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. Looks like I am in the same boat as others. We have been married for 20 years and always had wonderful sex until about a year ago. Now I hear “you just had some last week” or “somthing is wrong with you I have been putting up with you for 20 years” or “what about the other things I do? They dont count? I feel my marrage is doomed.

  2. Last time I had sex was over 40 years ago. Married almost 50 years and I won’t talk, listen, or even be near her. I’ve lived my whole married life in our basement. She is so boring and lifeless when it came to intimacy and sex.

      1. Tasha, This may be so unfair, but I don’t really care! She could have left anytime she wanted. The only thing that would stop her is the door. I’m not gay nor do I chase other women, that’s not me. I prefer to just be alone and be with my own thoughts. Been retired for about 10 years and I like working in my wood shop and restoring cars. This is my married life and I will never change, really too old to change now.

  3. I have been with my husband for ten years. Initially in my 20’s I didn’t enjoy or really want sex until I hit 30! I want more sex but he doesn’t want to as much as I do; instead he sees it as a chore. I hate having to initiate it. I wish it were as a priority as him going to the gym. We have no children so I don’t understand it. Not sure if I should just let it go. I don’t want to cheat, just to stay in marriage where I’m not sexually fulfilled. It’s getting old. He’s a sweet guy but the sex and affection feels forced. I go to the gym regularly as well so I see it as no excuse to be tired.

    1. Same things happen to me as well. It’s 7 years of our marriage, but from beginning only situation is like this. Ours is an arranged marriage so initially I was thinking it will take time to understand each other. We have a baby boy of 2 years old. Its still the same. If i want to have sex, I have to initiate it. Its like one time every 2 or 3 months. He is not that happy to have sex as well, it feels to me like I am forcing him to do so and also my soul feels bad. I feel like why do I have to do this? As hindu marriages couples are made in heaven and God decides all couples, but mine is like God has made some mistake.

  4. Hi I think my 15 year old boyfriend has aids but I’m not sure if I have it what should I do?

    1. Jemma, Please find a doctor or a counselor who can help you get an HIV test. This is no “romantic” disease in any way. It’s serious, and getting help sooner than later can make a BIG difference on the quality of your life and the longevity, for sure. Also, quit having sex with your boyfriend. At least one of you needs to be sensible in this. If you don’t have AIDS, you could pick up other diseases. Please use the brain God gave you. I hope you will, and pray you will make better choices on what you do with your body in the future.

  5. My husband doesn’t like sex with me. He likes sex with other females. Why…..what can I do for my married life?

    1. If you are a mother remember you are a wife too. You know better what type of women your man likes. Try to improve your appearance and create extra decent attractions. You will be Astonished. Remember no reactions, bad moods your target is to catch his desire

      1. Don’t do it. This is very sexist advice. Groveling and licking the feet of a bully will just get you kicked. Look at Michelle Wiener-Davis’s 180 description. Act like your worth having. A wife is a lot more than a “hot piece.” He better start earning you back, and you don’t need him. Get support elsewhere and fake it around him if need be.

        There’s another good page on how to do this on the Marriage Builder website. If the wife is dependent she may need to take time and get herself independent before she can pull this off. That could mean going back to school, going to individual counseling to build yourself up, doing other things to make your life enjoyable and worth while and build your self esteem, and getting economically independent. Once you’re ready and can do it on your own, this page tells you how to separate, while trying to fix the marriage. It’s worth reading.

        1. This is the worst advice ever. Only if she wants a divorce should she listen to you. Men respect women who better themselves for him according to his taste. You suggest something that will only encourage his cheating.

          Not everyone is interested in that “proud, sassy” woman trope besides cat shelters looking to unload their animals.

  6. My husband has always used withholding sex from me for whatever reason he feels at the time. Either he thinks I look like a prostitute (if I’m in shape and attractive), or he thinks I’m being a witch, or I’m too fat and he says he told me he’s not attracted to fat people and even hugging me grosses me out ( when I’m 10-20 pounds over weight). I’ve been with him 20 years, since I was 19. I feel like a fool, and that I’ve wasted the prime of my life with someone who will never truly love me. I asked him if I had a terrible accident he give me love if I became deformed? He said, “fat is disgusting, its gross”. I feel like I put on weight because I’m so sex deprived that I eat to comfort me. I wear a size 6 or 8 and have large breasts, so I’m not obese just overweight.

    Should I leave him before I turn 40 so I have a chance at happiness? I feel like no matter what I do he will never be happy with me. I tell him he wants a stepford wife and he says yes. The house is never clean enough for him and the kids are never behaved enough for him. He has been fired from jobs because they call him a primadonna. Nothing is ever good enough for him. He makes us move every year or two because he’s not content at work, constantly threathens to quit his job. I feel like a fool that I have stayed with him over all the bad things he’s done to me (physically, mentally, and inmorally) What should I do. I love him and he says he loves me just not attracted to me when I’m fat. I’m so depressed I find it hard to lose the weight.

    1. This not true love; people are not prefect. Find a good friend that will support you. Someone who does not judge. You are not prefect, you should first work on yourself, try and find things that make you happy (not your children – you love them that’s different happiness). Long walks, hobbies – best of all, help others or someone. True happiness, is knowing you are loved, know that God loves you. I hope that your husband will see women God has placed in life and give thanks! A sex toy may help till he comes around to our needs.

    2. There is a high chance he is addicted to porn and or masterbating. My Husband used to treat me similarly. I was never good enough. He finally decided to read the scriptures for the first time in his life. Then about 5 years ago admitted to me that he had been masterbating 3-4 times a day. Also at the beginning of our marriage he was addicted to porn. No wonder he was not interested in me. He has since been working on the problem and making other changes. We are doing much better now. We have been married 20 years and it is truly a mirracle we have lasted this long.

    3. Do you really think you will find another man who doesn’t have problems? You are fixed in your ways now, not like young newly weds. It can be very hard to find someone who is compatible because the good ones are usually already in a committed relationship. 2nd marriages don’t have a good success rate and children get caught up in all the drama of your dating and having to accept potential step parents they don’t want or like. They would have to live with or visit whoever he hangs out with, so you lose control of their safety and associations. Unless he would agree to get completely out of your lives, it would be better to focus on yourself and your children and forget about finding someone new until they are grown. They are the innocent priority in this mess. Real life isn’t a Hallmark movie. Those great guys who just adore your kids are extremely hard to find.

    4. I did and found a wonderful man. Life is short; don’t waste it on someone who doesn’t deserve you.

    5. I know you’re troubles. Remember the oath we took when we got married; for better or worse, through sickness and health. We did that in front of God. His commandments I have failed as much if not more than any of you remember; we are tested daily. We have to pray for our loved ones, even the ones that hate us. Remember communication is hard; you have to tell them how you feel and forgive them. Most of all pray for them. Love you all. God bless you all.

  7. I’m a 78 year old male my wife is 65 . we have sex once a week. She has never said no. We have been married for 27 years. I still work 84 hour’s a week. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones.

    1. Prove it. I’ll take your word on the sex part but prove you are 78 and show a pay stub showing you work 84 hrs a week. Oherwise I say lie.

  8. My wife and I have been together for 20 years and married 19 of them. 3-4 times a week because it’s every other day. She can’t handle much more than that and for me it gets tedious if we do it every day. I’m 50 and I’ve heard from friends that their libido dropped off in their 30’s. I have zero idea of what they are talking about.

  9. Well I am attractive but almost 70 and I have severe arthritis in my spine and an autoimmune personal area skin problem that no doctor knows how to treat, so I can’t have sex anymore, which means my husband doesn’t either. Sometimes things are the way they are and you just have to live with it. It is called growing old gracefully. And if it wasn’t for the sex-obsessed media it would be much easier to accept.

  10. My husband forced me to give him oral sex that lasted an hour every evening and then he would have intercourse, which seemed to go on for another hour because he would also force me to have sex every morning and this made it more difficult for him to reach orgasm more quickly. I negotiated to four times a week and oral sex one night a week but I was so traumatized by his use of threats and such before I finally submitted to the every night and morning routine that I feel like I was raped and I can no longer truly enjoy sex with him.

    He still demands we keep the current schedule even when I’m totally exhausted or sick and even when I lost people I loved and was grieving. He is a counselor and states he believes in Jesus Christ but I believe he is a narcissist. I can’t keep living this way and my relationship with God and my children has suffered because he is so controlling with my time and limits my activities. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m getting up there in age and am tired.

    1. You must put you’re foot down! tell him how you feel when he treats you like an object and not as a wife. Have you’re ducks lined up and in a row. Have a place to go and friends to support you because you may need to kick him out, or you may need to leave. It will never get better if you don’t demand it to stop.

  11. Hi everyone, I have just realized am not alone. My husband and I have wonderful sex, but the problem is he wants it everday. It feels like a routine and it takes time for me to be aroused thus sometimes we end up having dry sex which hurts me most times. He just can’t skip a day. I only rest when am on my periods and he is very upset and trying to get some. I wish someone could tell me how to handle him.

    1. Just be thankful he desires you! I have only been married 3 years and my husband does not want me like that. The biggest argument in our marriage, I feel so unwanted and sad inside. Try a lubricant, coconut oil or something to reduce the pain and be thankful!!

  12. We’re a very happy & sensual couple we generally have sex twice a day. We’ll take a hot shower or bubble bath together & wash as well as groom (shave) each other silky smooth if needed in the evenings & then shower again in the mornings & play as well. We simply can’t get enough of each other! ;-) Needless to say we sleep au natural & he can take me anytime / anyplace his heart desires & the same holds true for me, I can have him anytime the mood strikes. :-)

      1. …or bragging, for whatever reason; I would question why, if the above scenario is true (which I highly doubt-I smell troll). They are on a forum for people with marital sexual issues. If you want to brag, maybe Penthouse Forum is more your speed.

        1. So many trolls on these sites. I wonder, if there was a way to find out who is genuine and who is not, even on Christian blogs, and the troll comments removed, just how many comments would be left. The internet would be a lot lighter, I think.

          1. We try as best we can to get rid of the obvious troll comments (and we get A LOT of them). But who knows if a comment or two gets through. I really don’t think hers is a troll comment. There are a lot of negative commenters out there, as well. And there are others that just want to irk people. It’s possible that Tanya’s comment is one of those. At least she didn’t try to personally attack anyone. It also IS possible that she’s genuine. That’s why we posted it.

  13. I have been married for almost 10 years. My wife has been avoiding sex for the entirety of the marriage starting with turning me down on our wedding night and most of our honeymoon. My patience and tolerance are nearly gone. I have begged, written letters, bought marriage books, and nothing gets through to her. If nothing changes by the end of our next vacation, I will be shopping for a divorce lawyer. I can’t keep going on with this miserable depression and loneliness.

  14. Please don’t apply that verse into your lives physically; its spiritual. So don’t preach heresy to us. The Bible preaches only about Christ. We should come out with Christ in every chapter and verse in the Bible.

    1. That verse is absolutely not only spiritual my friend. I encourage you to research legitimate biblical interpretation methods that have been passed on and approved by solid biblical teachers and interpreters for thousands of years. All of the bible leads to Jesus but not every verse and passage ties directly to him. There is a balanced holistic approach to all of life that the bible spells out. This includes all of you including the way you honor God in sexuality within marraige.

    2. Wow. Are you really taking the words of God and saying “Well, I guess they don’t apply to me.” ???

      How on earth can you take this a “spiritual” when it gives complete instruction on the earthly plane on what to do about intimacy issues. Woman gives herself, man gives himself, and separation only in prayer so that temptation does not drive the marriage (which our LORD created) apart.

      Where can you possibly insert such wiggle room for your “spiritual” interpretation? What on earth could that “spiritual” interpretation be? Who says you are so privileged that you can ignore the Old Testament, which is a part of our Holy Bible? Christ says He comes not to destroy but to fulfill and He followed the Old Testament as well!

      It is people who think in poems and prose such as yourself that cause fissures in the faith and Satan to take advantage of the chaos. Sex was made for us to enjoy with our husbands, and the the fallen Angel of Light will not take away our glorification of God’s word in the form of one flesh.

  15. I have been married for over 30 years. My wife, Heidi, has cheated on me two times that I know of but I love her very much so we are working through it. She has given me a “hall pass” (so I can cheat, too) that I probably won’t use I feel that two wrongs don’t make a right.

    1. Tom, good for you guys to try to work it out. Interesting on the hall pass; if you use it, it may give her the OK to cheat again, be sure to do your ‘homework.’