I was recently asked, “How much sex is the right amount?” The answer to this question is “it depends.” It is up to each couple to decide together what is the right amount of sex for them. There are many variables a couple needs to take into account. What is important is that couples talk about this. So often when I work with couples that are struggling sexually, I learn that they have never discussed sex in their marriage. This is understandable as many people are uncomfortable talking about sex. However, this conversation is needed.
One thing that couples must understand is that each person has their own unique sex drive. Some people enjoy a lot of sex and some are satisfied with little sex. Couples need to talk about this to determine the frequency of sex that is satisfying for both people. It’s important to not get caught up in society’s view of sex, especially as the media presents it. If we follow Hollywood’s messages about sex, one would think that couples need to be having sex three times a day. The fact is that most couples have sex about once or twice a week. Why? It’s because that’s all they need. They are satisfied and content.
The media also presents sex as a “need” that must be fulfilled. This can lead people to feel entitled to have sex whenever they desire it. This can result in spouses feeling used and exploited in marriages. The fact is that sex is related to appetite, and it’s not a “need.” Food and water is a need. If we don’t have it we will die. Sex is not a need. If a person were suddenly unable to have sex ever again, it might be a hard cross to bear, but it wouldn’t kill him. However, it is a unique and important part of the communion between spouses. Again, it is related to the appetites, and as such it needs to be fed properly.
There are many other variables that can affect the frequency of sex. When practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP) there will be times during the month when a couple cannot have sex. While children are a blessing, most couples that have infants and young children will confess that they don’t have a lot of sex. This is often because they are too tired and when they go to bed, they just want to sleep. In these cases it is advisable to have even more discussion, perhaps even setting “dates” together so that this important part of intimacy is attended to, because it is good for the marriage. Another place Hollywood lies about sex is that it must always be had in the “heat of the moment,” but the intentionality of coming together is a reasonable reflection of the intentionality of being apart for serious reasons.
There are times, when it is beneficial for couples to voluntarily have a period of abstinence from sex. For example, when I work with a couple dealing with pornography/sex addiction, I often recommend a 90-day period of sexual abstinence. This gives the addicted spouse time to “detox” from his addiction. It gives the offended spouse time to heal from the pain of betrayal. During this time the couple can learn about healthy intimacy and sexuality. This can help them heal and restore their marriage. Thus, when they are ready to be sexual again, they will have a healthy marriage and sex life.
Other circumstances, such as illness, medical conditions, family responsibilities, and business travel can also keep couples apart and put a cramp in their sex lives. These times of abstinence, however, don’t have to be heavy crosses to bear. Couples can use them as times to improve their relationships by working on their emotional intimacy. They can do this by going on dates, taking walks, and having deep conversations. Eventually they will be able to have sex more frequently.
Altogether, it’s important to understand that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes the frequency of sex in marriages. This is for couples to decide for themselves. What matters most is that they talk about it so they can create an enjoyable and satisfying sex life.