Expert Speak

How frequently should a couple have sex?

How frequently should a couple, married or unmarried, be having sex ideally? When should you worry about the frequency of your lovemaking?
happy couple in bed

The joke is about a couple confiding separately to the therapist, the wife bemoaning her husband’s never-ending demands for sex. “Can you believe we do it 3 times a week?” The husband lamenting his wife’s lack of desire. “Do you know we barely make it 3 times a week?”

How many times?

A Newsweek poll reported frequency at around 68 times per year, with married couples getting more action than unmarried ones.

There are lots of studies clocking the frequency of sex in couples, unmarried, happily married or in committed relationships.

Another study in married couples found only one fourth having sex once a week, with the rest of the population doing it one or two times a month.

This is assuming that you are physically healthy and staying together with no external factor limiting your time together in bed. (Like arranging conjugal visits in jail. You just had twins would be another good reason for less frequent sex.)

Related reading: Our marriage wasn’t loveless, just sexless

No magic number

There can’t be fixed numbers, of course. If only this was as easy as measuring your height and looking up the appropriate number for weight.

There are no averages based on your age, gender or number of years of relationship or sexual experience.

Moreover there is no direct proportionality to the happiness you feel in your relationship, though there is a weak link somewhere.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

When should you worry?

Too much or too little sex?

If your numbers are too low, less than 12 a year, you should be worried. There is some correlation of happiness in a relationship with very low frequency of sex. That would have an almost circular cause-effect relationship on the quality of your marriage. A failing relationship can take its toll on sex and less sex can lead to anger, disappointment, frustration, feelings of inadequacy and depression.

If you think your numbers are high and you sometimes wonder if it’s bordering on addiction or ‘normal’, you need to talk to your partner. Partners of those who suffer from sexual addiction often complain of lack of intimacy and love that’s contingent on sex, in addition to physical complaints. Such cases are better handled professionally if you find yourself on either end of this problem.

Is it all one-way?

Mismatch in sexual frequency can be frustrating

If you can’t match your frequency with your partner, then it’s time for some introspection. There are times when your desires are synchronised, but there are times when one initiates but the other is in no mood. These are the testing times. Is one person always/mostly initiating and one never/rarely in mood? Who gets his/her way and who’s left to channelise their desire another way? Eventually how these situations play out will decide the strength of your relationship and also the numbers on your sexual frequency chart.

If both of you think your numbers are down, maybe you need to sit down and find out why. Maybe you can’t match up times, one is an early riser, the other sleeps late and wakes up late. Or maybe you have kids or other family members staying with you. Maybe both of you are too tired at night and hitting the couch with the TV remote seems easier.

Make time for love

Intimacy is important too

These are minor issues that can easily be solved with some planning. Yes, sex is ideally spontaneous, culminating from desire to foreplay and intercourse. But sometimes scheduling can actually get you some badly missed action. Morning quickies or short afternoon sessions do as much for you as a long nightcap. You may sometimes value quantity over quality. Remember, perfection is hugely overrated.

Recommended reading: Scheduled intimacy can be just as fulfilling, say expert Counsellors Rajan and Minu Bhonsle

If you think it’s neither ‘too high’ nor ‘too low’ but yet there is scope for improvement, then you are doing well. Just keep your eyes open for all the opportunities that you may be missing. Soon, you will have a number that you are proud of.

How do you talk about lack of sex in a relationship and help bring intimacy back?

5 women share when they find their man the sexiest

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