How Much Sex Is Normal?

sex normal - Dollar Photo unhappy woman lying in bed stressedSo, you haven’t had much sex with your spouse lately, huh? How much sex is normal? Well, one in five couples are living in “sexless” marriages, sex experts say, meaning having sex fewer than 10 times a year. And one-third of married couples struggle with the problem of mismatched sexual desire. It’s the main reason couples seek counseling. And in Silicon Valley, [California] where couples are working long hours to pay high mortgages or are desperately searching for jobs during a recession, fatigue and stress only make matters worse.

“I’ve been married 10 years. There were times when once in three months was a good thing,” said a 33-year-old Santa Clara County employee who didn’t want her name used. “It’s feeding the kids, getting them to bed, all after putting in a full day and commuting. I have a ‘no-sex-after-8 o’clock’ rule. When I crawl into bed, I want to go to sleep.”

Low Sex Drive

Low sex drive is such a problem,” said Al Cooper of the San Jose Marital and Sexuality Centre. It’s considered the “common cold of sexual issues of the new millennium.”

Whether sex drives are lower in general now than in years past is uncertain. But one thing is sure, Cooper said: “Women are complaining more.” When it comes to seeking counseling, it’s the women who are dragging the men into sex therapy offices. And in these instances, contrary to popular belief, it’s the husbands with low desire. “In our society, it’s more culturally acceptable for the woman to have no sex drive,” Cooper said. “When the man has no sex drive, it’s more upsetting to both of them.”

Sexless marriages seem to be the constant talk these days. You hear it from Oprah and Dr. Phil (who calls it an “undeniable epidemic”) to numerous books climbing the bestseller charts, including “The Sex-Starved Marriage” by Michele Weiner Davis. New York Magazine wrote a recent story about “Generation Sexless.” Young New Yorkers are so busy with their careers and demanding toddlers they have little time or desire for sex.

How Much is Normal?

So, how much sex is “normal?” Sex experts are reluctant to quantify how much sex is enough sex. (It could make some couples feel wholly inadequate, and some couples get along just fine without much sex.) But while fewer than 10 times a year is considered sexless, having sex once or twice a week is considered average.

“Unlike vitamins, there are no daily minimum requirements,” said Weiner Davis, who wrote The Sex-Starved Marriage. “If both spouses are satisfied with having a sex-lite marriage, that’s great. However, it’s much more often the case that couples are polarized. It’s normal that one person is unhappy with the quality and quantity of their sex life and the other is saying, ‘What’s the big deal? Get a life.'”

Only 40% of married couples say they’re very satisfied with their sex lives, Weiner Davis said. While medical problems and some medications can cause loss of desire —including some antidepressants and some birth control pills —most problems revolve around differing and unfulfilled expectations.

Heather and Jarad, who have been married for 5 years and have a 6-month-old daughter, say it’s hard to squeeze in time for sex, or to even work up the desire, in their hectic lives. The couple, who commute to San Jose from Hollister each day, say they’re lucky to have sex twice, maybe three times, a month. “It’s the game of trying to slip it in when the baby’s sleeping,” Jarad said. “It’s a fight for time.” “There are times when I may want to. Perhaps he may not want to,” Heather added. “It’s important for me to have that time to remember I’m not just a mother, I’m his wife.”

Changes in What is Normal

Dramatic changes in men’s and women’s roles over the past decades also have altered expectations of marriage —and corresponding feelings about sex.

“I look back to my parents’ generation. They had it a little easier. Their roles were carved out,” Weiner Davis said. “Now in relationships, although we have a lot more freedom, it’s hard, because everything is up for grabs. Who takes the garbage out? Who gets up with the baby? In a sense we have to invent our marriages. And with that freedom comes conflict.”

In addition to stress and exhaustion, experts say, anger and resentment can build to the point where sex stops. Other factors in sexless marriages include subverting one’s sex drive to, say, pornographic Internet sites or affairs with other people. “I saw a doctor last week who wasn’t having sex with his wife but was looking at pictures of big-breasted women on the Internet,” Cooper said. “We see this a lot in the valley.”

Negotiate the Times

In general, however, a couple’s problems are often less about sex, per se, than getting to the sex, Cooper said. No couple’s willingness for sex at any given time lines up perfectly, he said. The key is how well a couple negotiates the times when one initiates and the other refuses.

“If it becomes a major battle every time, the person with the lower sex drive feels constantly barraged and harassed about sex. The one with the high sex drive feels constantly deprived, and the fights get more intense each time,” Cooper said. “We see there that the sex just drops away.” And when the sex stops, often the casual affection stops. The hand-holding, the laughing at each other’s jokes, the sitting next to each other on the couch all stop. When relationships become that icy, they risk infidelity and, ultimately, divorce.

About half the population needs to make a real effort to feel desire, Weiner Davis said. A reluctant spouse must make a “decision for desire,” she said. “If you wait for the feeling to sort of wash over you, when the dogs are out of the house, the phones are not ringing, the kids are in bed, you’re never going to have sex.”

Couples need to put as much energy into their sex lives as their job and children, she said. Set the mood early in the day with simple flirtations around the house, a patting on the rear end, complimenting the spouse’s appearance. And of course, avoid bickering before bedtime. Couples with more deep-seated problems should seek counseling.

Is it Normal for you Not to Be in the Mood?

“I wish I had a dollar for everyone who said ‘I wasn’t in the mood when I started, but I really got into it,'” she said. “One of the best ways to make it happen is to be receptive to your spouse’s advances.”

It’s advice that the 33-year-old woman with the “no-sex-after-8” rule didn’t take. She and her husband are separating. “The world is just very busy,” she said. “You need to have a two-income household. You pay a price for it.”

This article came from The Mercury News— Feb. 14, 2003. It was titled, Is it the New Epidemic? written by Julia Prodis Sulek. It’s not written from a Christ-follower’s view point but we think it’s very sound advice.

We, at Marriage Missions, don’t feel that God would have us “pay the price” of sacrificing our marriages because we’re too “busy” to have sex. Scripturally we feel that God wants us to work with each other. That is as long as it doesn’t go against scriptural grounds, to accommodate each other’s sexual needs.

Scriptures Concerning Sex

The scriptural basis we see for this can be found in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 where it says,

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone, but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

Below is an additional article on what is normal in how often you and your spouse make love. It also addresses some of the issues mentioned above, and gives suggestions to help you in the ways you may need it:

Sexual Frequency in Marriage: 3 Common Questions

You can also read about other specifics on this matter in the SEXUAL ISSUES topic. Just take your pick of what you want to read.

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Filed under: Sexual Issues

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668 responses to “How Much Sex Is Normal?

  1. I have been married 47 yrs this year. Over the last 9 yrs, we have no sex at all – ZERO! She is no longer interested at all!! Our sex life has always been mismatched from the very start. It is very diffcult for me and now I do not even dream about sex nor have erections any more, anytime.

    My parents where divorced when I was going through high school. I did not want my marriage to fail, but now I feel there is really no marriage at all. I’m one of last of the romantics and really miss romance, love, and intimacy. There is not even hand holding now. The relationship is making me feel very depressed and worthless over the past 9 years and I feel I can not go on any further. Should I stay or leave?

    1. You should tell her about it. My marriage isn’t sexless, but wife is content with once a week; I’d like 2 to 3…and a bit more flavor. We compromise on things. She tries to be more in the mood and more adventurous, and I try not to pressure. We also are both open about desires, fantasies, porn use and masturbation. Neither of us has an issue with the other using porn/ masturbation as a crutch during times when our drives are mismatched.

      If you can’t talk to her openly about sex, then you have a much bigger issue. Lack of open communication.

      1. So 3 times a year and 48 times since 2011 with a new wife is not average sex in a relationship.

      2. Great comment! I was just going to say – you’ve got to open up and be honest with your wife about how you feel… She’s not a mind reader…. Also she could be feeling the exact same way… You’ll never know until you ask… I’d love to hear how this went and how your relationship is going now. Hopefully it’s going strong 😁

    2. If you have been married 47 years, doing the math, you are in your late 60’s? Leave?? NO!! Do you think other women in their 60’s will be more interested in sex? No. Unless you look like George Clooney, the women you will date will be your age too. Plus your current wife is entitled to 50% of your retirement fund.

      Encourage her to go to OBGYN and consider hormone replacement therapy, including testosterone. That usually gets women really going. You may not be able to keep up…

  2. Is paying for sex cheating in marriage if the wife not having sex with you? This way I solve the problem.

    1. We certainly don’t want to be harsh with you. We realize that this situation puts you in a difficult position. I don’t know why your wife is not having sex with you. There could be so many reasons. But to answer your question about whether or not paying for sex is cheating on your wife… the answer is yes. Sex outside of the marriage is cheating, even if your wife is not having sex with you. Cheating is cheating. When you have sex with someone who is not your spouse (whether it is virtual, on line, or in person), it is cheating. That’s what God tells us. Please… don’t allow yourself to believe the lie that because you hurt so badly, solutions to cheat and do that which you should not, are acceptable. They are not. Again, cheating is cheating.