The last blog entry I wrote was about the topic of communication in relationships, which came up during a talk I gave for a local group of mothers. The other theme that came up at this talk was sex. Half of the questions the women had were about how to get the spark back, what to do when you’re too tired to have sex, and how much sex is normal to have when you’re married with kids.
A common theme was that of the amount of sex you should have in a marriage. Do we have to have sex once per week? More often? It is okay if we only have sex once per month? Can a marriage survive if you only have sex every few months? How much sex is enough?
As a relationship and sex therapist, the question of how often couples should have sex is one I hear often. In our society where couples on television seem to manage steamy sex even after a long work week and women’s magazines bombard us with sex tips to keep him interested, we get the message that in order to have a good relationship couples should be having sex multiple times per week using multiple positions and techniques. Yet in my work I’ve seen that how often a couple has sex is not the most important factor in a satisfying relationship.
Couples tend to have sex more frequently at the start of their relationship. The excitement of dating a new partner, combined with the hormones released at the start of a relationship, can lead to more frequent sex. Once they are in a long-term relationship and the complexities of day to day life creep up, the sex may become less frequent.
Sometimes the frequency of sex declines due to a busy life stage, such as in the case of new parents. Even though both partners may wish they were having sex more often, it simply may not be realistic to do so at certain times. Give yourself a break and recognize that there is a lot going on; it’s okay to let sex slide for a while. Stay connected in other ways, and when things slow down a bit you can bring more frequent sex back.
In other cases the reduction in frequency of sex isn’t related to a particularly busy time, but rather to the fact that once the new relationship hormones have waned neither partner has a very high sex drive. If this is the case for you, you can find other ways to feel connected and close.
The bottom line is: If both partners are satisfied with the amount and quality of sex they are having, then they are having enough sex.