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The marriage question we're all asking...

I’m a marriage counselor, and it’s rare to meet couples that agree on one of the most common questions I get asked by married people: How often should we be having sex?

I don’t know if it’s God’s cosmic joke, but I’ve often wondered why the less-is-more people don’t pair up with other less-is-morites, and why the more-the-merrier people don’t pair up with other more-the-merriers. I haven’t met one couple in 19 years of counseling that is in 100% agreement.

Truth #1: Your marriage is normal if you and your spouse don’t agree on sexual frequency. If you two do agree, then clearly your marriage has a super power and both of you should wear capes.

Truth #2: Healthy couples do not have a how-much-is-enough perspective of sex. Instead, they prioritize a kind of intimacy that is a way of life, filled with everyday encounters like:

  • sharing the sink in the morning
  • getting the kids ready for school
  • kissing before leaving for work
  • texting in the middle of the day
  • eating family dinner at the table
  • tag-teaming family chores
  • having conversations about nothing on the back patio
  • throwing parties with friends and all their crazy kids
  • singing in the minivan
  • holding hands during worship
  • kissing the way they did before they had kids
  • snuggling while watching TV
  • catching him looking at her that way he looks at her
  • making mistakes along the way
  • forgiving quickly and moving on
  • dancing in the kitchen
  • laughing together
  • crying together
  • dreaming together
  • praying together
  • serving together
  • growing old together

Sex without a lifestyle of intimacy can begin to feel dutiful for many couples.

How often are healthy couples having sex? I’m not convinced this is the right question. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what the national average is for couples. What matters is what works for your marriage. Some couples need to have sex every day, while others need it once a week. The goal is to establish a lifestyle of intimacy in your marriage . . . whatever that looks like.

I will say, sexless marriages do not appear to be as happy and healthy as marriages that enjoy sex more regularly. This is especially true in my online counseling practice . I’ve noticed when my sexless couples are intimate, they return to counseling with an extra spring in their step. Sex is good, y’all!

How can you and your husband get on the same page?

  1.  Talk about it. Make space to talk about your sexual and non-sexual needs. There is no such thing as, “If he really loves me then he should just know.” True love mindreading only exists in the movies . . . because there’s a script!
  2. Customize your needs. Healthy couples know how to express their needs in ways their spouse can understand. For example, it’s not helpful to say, “I need more romance.” If you need more romance, then describe specific romantic behaviors that are a custom fit for you, “I like it when you text me in the middle of the day,” or “I need more kisses that don’t necessarily lead to sex.”
  3. Adopt a lifestyle of intimate moments. Feeling stuck in this area? You probably did this when you two were dating (that’s why you wanted sex more back then). If it worked then, it will work now.
  4. Don’t wait until you feel like having sex to have sex. Sometimes we forget sex is a good idea. Going from a day of responsibility to a night of mind-blowing sex can be a difficult mental shift for many women. This reality also applies to some men as they transition from a stressful day at the office to family life. However, going from a day of responsibility mixed in with a lifestyle of intimate moments makes ending the day with a great night of sex more feasible.
  5. What if we don’t agree? If you and your spouse can’t agree on frequency, then you may want to consider seeing a counselor. A good marriage counselor can help you unpack the barriers impacting your marriage and help you discover solutions for your relationship.

How often should couples be having sex? The answer is: as often as they want!

Intimacy cannot be quantified. There is an exact number of times a year you should change your air conditioning filters, fertilize your shrubs, de-clutter your closets, and wash your windows, but there is not an exact number for intimacy.

Marriage is a journey, so love generously, kiss wastefully, live boldly, and make lots of love and memories along the way.

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Showing 5 comments
  • rachel

    this was sent to me at the perfect time. I really needed to hear this.

  • Samuel Matthews

    Honestly I thought Marriage was about the Husband and the Wife (as well as Christ and the Church), but more and more I’m seeing it quite the opposite. Many things are driven from the perspective of the woman, yet not for the man. This way is prominent in the world (look at Family Law and Society as a whole) and It’s creeping into the Church as well. God didn’t do things this way, So Why are We? This article started well until I read the question “How can you and your husband get on the same page?” This statement leads me to believe this whole article is written by a woman for women. How Biased is That? Marriage is about Husband and wife and no one-sided perspective alone is valid; the perspectives from the husband as well as the wife are equally important (especially one of this topic) and articles should be written that way. Tell me why so many wives look at husbands as sex addicts, just because they want their wives? Since when has that ever been a bad thing? My wife and I talk about this frequently and we are fine. A house divided cannot stand.

    • Becky Hodges

      Hi Samuel, I want to start off by saying that I am glad that you desire to be a man who loves the Lord and is committed to your marriage. I am in an unequally yoked marriage, as are a large majority of the women I interact with are. It’s a challenge for me, and one I will get to live with for my life. As the spiritual leader in the family and a woman, I identify with women who are working towards getting on the same page in marriage.

    • Beth Price-Almeida

      Samuel, if that one question was enough to make you decide this article was ‘biased’, I would think that it’s possible this is a touchy subject for you. I don’t mean that in an argumentative way, I just can’t think of a better way to put it. When I read your comment, that was my immediate thought.
      There are a few reasons she could’ve passed that question the way she did. The first and most obvious reason being that she is a woman and, while I admit to being new to the site, I have been cruising around it all day and have noticed that a LOT (I won’t say the majority because that would take more than a walk through of the site to prove) of the responses are made by women, so she’s probably also used to writing in a way that is directed primarily toward women.
      This post was, hands down, one of the most balanced posts I’ve read on the subject. Most go to one of two extremes; either than mean it’s an over-sexed Neanderthal or the woman is a prude. This post put it snack in the middle. The husband should not expect his wife to be a cheerful ‘giver’ every single day but the wife should not expect her husband to be happy with once a month.
      I’m sure she didn’t mean for any of her readers to get the idea that she was being biased in any way.
      My husband has asked me the same question you asked above ‘Since when did a husband wanting his wife become a bad thing?’ I think I speak for a lot of women when I say that it is never a bad thing for a husband to want his wife, but that husband needs to express that want in other ways as well as in the sexual sense.
      A big part of the problem my husband and I have (I commented below yours) is that he can’t seem to think past that. It’s almost a constant source of tension between us because he doesn’t take an interest in anything else when it comes to our relationship, or at least he didn’t show it. Because this issue had become such a battle for us, I came up with the every other day idea, even though sex is physically painful for me more often than not. No, doctor’s can’t pinpoint a cause. He knows, because I’ve told him bluntly that I am trying what I need to do to keep him from going elsewhere.
      Now, being a woman, I would think he would give a little knowing that it causes physical pain and that I’m doing it because I’m willing to deal with that pain in order to keep our marriage in a semi-happy state, however, he rarely sees it that way.
      Even on the days that aren’t “his days”, he is continually talking about it; things like”tomorrow is my day”, like I need reminding.
      Sometimes, the wife’s lack of enthusiasm isn’t simply a matter of not being in the mood. Like me, it could be painful and, if she’s tried to talk with her husband and he just won’t hear her, it may also be causing her some resentment toward him.

  • Beth Price-Almeida

    My husband and I have a wonderful relationship in all areas EXCEPT this one! I’m more of a once a week kind of a girl and he is in the every day, at least once camp.
    I have a two and a half year old and a homemaker. I rarely have time alone to read my Bible and pray (unless it’s in the middle of the night) and I feel like that’s a major contributing factor to my once a week mentality.
    I’ve tried explaining that I need about one day a month, maybe two, to spend on my own and then I would probably feel more like ‘giving’ in this area. So far, my training is falling on deaf ears and we are in a pattern of every other day unless we’re both worn completely out.
    I would like to point out that a woman’s sex drive and reproductive system is much more complicated than a man’s. That is why there are little blue pills for men and not for women. My GP and my GYN both explained to me that the female reproductive system is still not completely understood so it’s much harder to address the under active libido in women.
    Or sex drives are about 99% mental, so when we are having a particularly rough patch with the kids or with issues at church or or jobs outside the home or whatever, sometimes w we simply can’t flip that switch. There is a blogger that I absolutely adore, Sheila Wray Gregoire of To Love, Honor & Vacuum, who has become known as “the sex lady” because she discussed this subject quite often from the perspective of the husband AND the wife. She has also created an e-course for women called Boost Your Libido that helps women understand how their sex drive differs from their husband’s and ways they can try to give a lading sex drive an energy boost.
    I am in the process of working through the course and I have found it to be informative and funny and comprehensive. She doesn’t just say “You’re married now, so deal with it!” She discusses how a man’s sex drive works versus a woman’s, how to do with past sexual trauma/abuse, and how, if a husband and wife don’t have a meaningful relationship OUTSIDE the bedroom, they won’t have a good time INSIDE the bedroom.
    I saw that you mentioned needing a marriage counselor and I am certain this would be a wonderful and very useful resource. It is helping me address physical abuse from my first marriage that has, without me knowing it, hindered my relationship with my husband now in many different areas, not just or sexual relationship.
    If you do decide to purchase the e-course to check it out, would you mind giving her my name & email? I just signed up to be an affiliate for her courses, but don’t have links yet & with a 2 year -old, I could use all the help I can get! Here is the link to the course and, of course, you can check out her other materials and posts from here as well.

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