The usual response from experts is something like: "It depends. Some couples are content with once a month while others desire that close contact several times a week. Whatever amount keeps you both satisfied is sufficient."
To which--being the opinionated gal I am--I say, "Balderdash."
Find me one couple who has sex once a month (for any reason other than an untreatable physical ailment or unavoidable distance) that is incredibly intimate in every other way and fully enjoys that once-a-monther and is well guarded against adultery, and I will eat that word--and let me tell you, "balderdash" is quite a mouthful. I don't know of any such marriages.
I'm not even sure people are really asking how frequently they should be having sex. Some spouses who ask that question are wanting to know one of the following:
- Are we normal? Whatever frequency you're having in your marriage, you wonder how it compares to whatever the norm is.
- How infrequently can I say "yes" to my spouse's demands for sex and still be fulfilling their "need"? You think you're husband/wife is a horn-dog, and you want to know how much sex you need to have to fulfill your spousal duty without having to fill their ridiculous level of demand.
- How much more can I get my spouse to have sex? You aren't getting enough sex, and you want to know what frequency would be good so you can insist on at least that much in your marriage.
I'm not overly impressed by such thinking if that's what is behind the question. However, I am not a question-dodger by any means.
While I generally agree that underlying principles are more important in making decisions about frequency of intercourse, and the goal is not how often you do it but how intimate your relationship becomes through sexual activity, I think this question can be specifically answered.
So I'm going to give an actual answer to the question "How often should you have sex?" At least once a week, and even more is better.
Why do I say that?
That frequency does square with the average. Now remember that averages are based on total numbers and include outliers, such as those couples who have sex once a year and those who do it everyday. Still about once a week is the "norm," if you will. (Sources: Psychology Today, The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University Center for Sexual Health Promotion.)
Husbands crave sexual release.* While it only takes approximately 15 minutes for seminal fluid to replenish and 2 days for sperm to replenish after orgasm, men typically report a sense of semen build-up after several days. (Note: This time may be shorter if the man is constantly masturbating.) Can hubbies go longer than a few weeks? Yes, of course. But many report testicular discomfort after about a week or two.
Wives need to retain flexibility. From the female perspective, sex can be uncomfortable if the vagina is too contracted or surrounding muscles have atrophied. Think of it like doing aerobics. If you want to be able to make it through a 30-minute class, you need to go at least once a week, or the next time you go, you will be very sore during and afterward. In the same way, your girly parts get sore if you have sex infrequently. You need to keep everything in shape down there, and the only way to do that is to have sex once a week or more.
You need to routinely reconnect to grow your relationship. If we only conversed once a month with our spouse, we would not consider that a close marriage. However, for some reason, there are people who believe that infrequent "physical conversation" can result in intimacy.
It seems that one of the worst concepts expert psychology has wrought in the last few decades is that of "quality time." Yes, of course, we want quality time, but studies of parenting and marriage have now overwhelmingly demonstrated that quantity time matters too. You can't make up for lost time by a great date now and then, nor can you be intimate with your spouse without being physically intimate with your spouse with some frequency.
Make the analogy of sex to sleep. In order to feel rested, you need quality sleep. But no one would claim that one hour of quality sleep per night is enough. You need both quality and quantity. True for sleep. True for married sex.
Why should you make love even more often?
- Because you want to be above average in your marriage.
- Because your spouse desires to be intimate with you.
- Because it's a relational need that cannot get met by any other person in your life.
- Because it protects your marriage from outside lust or adultery.
- Because you're good at it. (Go you!)
- Because it's something private that gives you a special connection to each other.
- Because the Bible says to have sex in marriage.
- Because if your kids knew what you were doing, they'd die of embarrassment.
- Because knocking boots is a way better activity than watching sitcom reruns on a Sunday afternoon.
- Because you want to.
The Bible is clear that if you take a breather, it isn't to be a long period of time (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Unless physical distance or health issues or other reasonable circumstances beyond your control are present, you need to engage with your spouse in sexual activity. (After I drafted this post, I read Sheila Gregoire's marvelous post on the 1 Corinthians verse: What Does Do Not Deprive Each Other Really Mean?)
What if you don't want to do it that often? Well, that's a topic for another day. But suffice it to say that I had covered low sex drive here, Pearl's Oyster Bed blog specifically deals with low female libido, Sheila Gregoire has great advice on her blog and in her book The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex about how to get your engines revving, and there are numerous other sources to help you out.
What I want to get across here is that frequent sex is important. Married couples should be connecting in many different ways throughout the week to maintain the health of their relationship, and physical intimacy is one of those ways.
Since I know I'll get feedback, how about I invite it? What do you think? How often should married couples make love? How often do you make love in your marriage? How often do you think is "maintenance" level versus "healthy sex life" level?
*Note for wives who are the higher drive spouse: Yes, it's less typical, but not uncommon. Check out my Help for Higher Drive Wives post.