There is no normal when it comes to the frequency of sex in marriage. While some couples have romped sessions every day, others have dwindled but satisfactory sex lives.
If you are struggling with your sex life, this statement probably won’t make you feel any better. You are likely looking for a reference point to draw parallels with to determine the state of your sex life.
Well, an average couple has sex 68.5 times a year. Which means 5-6 times a month and once or twice a week. Doesn’t seem like a lot? Or does it?
“Sex is not only the basis of life, it is the reason for life.” — Norman Lindsay
Believe it or not, sex is the bond that keeps couples together, besides being the only reason why life exists on earth. But, Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of igniteyourpleasure.com, stated that “a healthy sex drive is different for each person”.
Let see – Do you have a higher libido than your partner? Or are you frustrated by repeated rejections of your sexual advances?
If the answer to one or both the questions is yes, then you must have wondered whether you have a higher sex drive than others, or does your partner have a lack of libido. If you are the one with a comparatively lower sex drive, you must have found yourself surrounded by similar questions.
All these talks about sex in marriage boils down to just two questions-
- How often do married couples have sex, normally?
- Is it significantly different from the number of times you have sex with your partner?
If yes is the answer to the last question, then who is the one with an excessive or deficient sex drive?
However, Ian Kerner, Ph.D., always responded that there’s no one right answer when confronted with similar questions.
Helpful statistics and insights
There are plenty of different polls out there that lay out different statistics to answer the question – How often do married couples have intercourse?
Here are some of their findings:
- Newsweek magazine found in its poll that married couples have sex about 68.5 times a year, or a little more than on an average. The magazine also found out that as compared to unmarried people, married couples have 6.9 times more sex per year.
- According to a University of Chicago Study called “The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States,” about 32 percent of married couples have sex two or three times a week, 80 percent of married couples have sex a few times a month or more, and 47 percent say they have sex a few times a month.
- In another study, this time by David Schnarch, PhD, who studied more than 20,000 couples, 26% of couples have sex once a week, more likely once or twice a month.
There is no “Normal”
As you may have noticed from the large variance of these statistics, it’s easy to see that there is no “normal”. In many studies, researchers and therapists said it really depends on the couple.
Each person’s sex drive is different, each couple’s marriage is different, and their daily lives are different. Since there are so many factors at play, it’s really hard to know what is “normal.”
The better question to ask is, what is normal for you and your spouse? Or what would each of you like your “normal” to be?
If both of you are happy with once a week, or once a month, then it really doesn’t matter what other couples are doing. But if one or both of you aren’t happy, then perhaps you can negotiate a new normal.
In most couples, one person always wants sex more, and the other will want less sex.
Also, your sex drive will not be uniform and the same always. Factors like stress, medication, mood, body image, and a million other things can affect your sex drive. There is practically no reason for you to get freaked out if your sex drive is dipping down for a while. There is probably a good explanation for this.
It’s how you handle it which will make the difference.
How much sex to be happy?
One interesting study actually found out that happiness is related to sex.
While it may seem that the more sex the better it is, and there was actually a point where happiness leveled off. The study was published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and surveyed 30,000 couples in the U.S. for 40 years.
So how much sex in marriage should you have to level off with happiness?
Once a week, according to researchers. In general, more sex does help increase happiness, but daily isn’t necessary. Anything above once a week didn’t show a significant rise in happiness.
Of course, don’t let that be an excuse not to have more sex; perhaps you and your spouse love doing it more or less often. The important thing is to communicate and figure out is what works for you both.
Sex can be a great stress reliever, and it can bring you closer as a couple.
Guess what? There is a proper scientific explanation behind the above statement. Sex is responsible for an increase in the levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, to help us bond and build trust.
“Oxytocin allows us to feel the urge to nurture and to bond. Higher oxytocin has also been linked with a feeling of generosity.” –Patti Britton, PhD
So if you both want more, then go for it!
Low libido and other factors
What if sex isn’t even on your mind?
Unfortunately, many people and sometimes even both people in the marriage either have no sex drive or something else is inhibiting them. According to Newsweek magazine, 15-20 percent of couples are in a “sexless” marriage, which equates to having sex less than 10 times per year.
Other polls show that about 2 percent of couples have zero sex. Of course, the reasons weren’t always stated—this could be due to a number of factors, of which low libido is just one.
A low sex drive can happen to both genders, though women report it more.
According to USA Today, 20 to 30 percent of men have little or no sex drive, and 30 to 50 percent of women say they have little or no sex drive. Researchers do say that the more sex you have, the more you feel like doing it.
Sex drive is an interesting thing.
It seems some people are born with high or low libido, but there are many other factors that can contribute to it. How well your relationship is going can definitely be a factor, but past sexual abuse or other issues with sex over the years can be a factor as well.
How to improve our numbers?
If you are wondering how much sex other people have, then it could be because you aren’t where you want to be sex-wise in your marriage. It happens. We all go through ups and downs. Times of stress, like moving, or a new baby, or illness, can all get in the way temporarily.
Also, couples tend to experience a steady decline in sex urge post-marriage than what they enjoyed before saying ‘I do’. A survey conducted by Cosmopolitan.com revealed that the drop in the frequency of sex in marriage is ubiquitous, irrespective of the age of the spouses and the duration of the marriage.
But if you and your partner have been on the downside for a while, and there doesn’t seem to be any major reason then talking to a sex therapist is definitely a good option.
A good marriage therapist can help you both get to the root of why sex is an issue, and offer help to bring you together again.
Beyond therapy, there are many great books about sex and marriage you and your spouse could read together to get ideas. If you are both on board and want to reconnect, why not plan a weekend getaway to jump start things?
Quality vs. quantity
One thing to consider is the quality vs. quantity of sex that you and your spouse are having.
If both of you love sex when you do have it, then great! Many researchers suggest to simply schedule it in. It seems robotic, but once you get started it’s anything but robotic.
Scheduling sex simply means it becomes a higher priority
Scheduling sex is not unheard of. Newlywed couples often plan their sex before actually indulging in the act. Megan Fleming, PhD and a New York City-based sex and relationship therapist, encourages couples to schedule their intimate moments together.
However, the only problem with scheduling sex, as stated by Fleming, is “you don’t know how you’ll both feel at that time and we can’t command ourselves to feel aroused”, but you can “create conditions that make sex more likely to happen”,
If your quality of sex is low, then that could be a reason why the quantity is low as well. In a marriage, sex is the tie that binds. If you experience a dip in your sexual desire, analyze whether that is due to negative feelings about your marriage, your spouse or yourself.
Whatever you discover, make sure you spend time doing something constructive about it. Stop the blame game and take accountability for making things better. Also, bear in mind that a good marriage therapist can also help you figure out how to improve things on all accounts.
There are lots of statistics out there that seem to tell us what is a “normal” amount of sex for married couples. But really, there is no set definition of normal.
Each couple is different, so it’s up to you to determine what is normal for you!