Sexual Frequency in Marriage: 3 Common Questions

At some point in every couple’s marriage—often in the early years—the question of sexual frequency comes up. They might find themselves wondering how often they “should” be having sex, how to agree on frequency, or whether they’re normal.

Today, we’re tackling three common questions about sexual frequency, and what you and your spouse can do to ensure the highest level of satisfaction and fulfillment for your marriage.

My spouse and I have very different sexual needs. How do we get on the same page?

Finding a healthy compromise between two different sex drives is a delicate, difficult subject for many couples. How do both of you meet each other’s needs and still get your needs met when the two of you are on such different pages?

Getting on the same page about sex requires give and take, and a generous spirit from both of you. It’s easy to fall into a rut of thinking, “I guess this is just the way it is; there’s nothing we can do about it.” There is absolutely something you can do for a more fulfilling sex life: start an ongoing dialogue about what you need from each other.

Don’t just have one conversation about sex and abandon the subject. Keep talking about it as often as you need to in order to meet each other’s needs, and get your own met. Neglecting this critical conversation can lead to one or both of you developing unhealthy sexual behaviors and attitudes surrounding sex.

We know of at least one couple that has a weekly sex talk to check in on their love life. They ask each other questions like, “Where are you at this week? What can we do to make sure sex is the best it can be?”

When you set aside time to talk about this, remember you’re both doing your best. You both have needs that may or may not be getting met at any given time, but it’s important not to make one another feel guilty about how things are going in your love life. This topic is already loaded and heavy; be careful not to add any unnecessary heaviness to the conversation.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet or particular solution that settles this issue, but if you keep that open dialogue, you’re much more likely to find fulfillment together. Simply talking to each other about it and being honest about your needs—and being willing to meet needs in your spouse that you may not share—is the key to reaching a happy medium.

We only have sex a few times a month, but it’s great! Are we normal?

We hear this question so often, especially from newlywed couples. No matter how often you have sex, what matters is whether you’re both satisfied and fulfilled. What’s “normal” isn’t the issue—it’s about what works for you!

Studies have shown that sexual frequency in married couples ranged from four times to 45 times per month after two years of marriage. That’s a wide range! And chances are, your frequency is impacted by the season of life you’re in. Do you have a baby or young kids at home? Does one of you work a shift that isn’t conducive to frequent lovemaking? Are you helping to care for elderly parents or in-laws?

One thing we’ve found with many of the couples we’ve worked with over the years is that often, life circumstances may lower the frequency of sex. BUT, even when quantity goes down, the quality goes up. These couples’ emotional intimacy and understanding of one another’s needs leads to a fulfilling sex life despite the lower frequency.

Every couple has their own individual set of intimacy needs. If you’re having sex a frequency that feels low to you, check in with each other. Are you both happy with your sex life? This is a great way to learn whether you’re in sync, and whether you need to work together to make adjustments.

The key is not to reach a certain level of “normalcy;” instead, the key is to be satisfied. That’s a much easier—and more enjoyable!—goal to work toward.

We used to make love all the time, but lately, my spouse isn’t as interested. What can I do?

It’s true that frequency of sex can be an indicator of how your relationship is doing, especially if your spouse has experienced a sudden drop in interest. And, it’s easy to feel rejected when they don’t show the same level of sexual desire as they did in the past. But desire depends on so many factors, and often, they have more to do with your spouse personally than they have to do with you as a couple.

Sleep deprivation, emotional distress, preoccupation, and underlying health problems are just a few of the issues that can impact your spouse’s desire. To get to the bottom of this, one of the most important things you can do is talk to your spouse. Find a time to talk when you can both feel emotionally safe. In other words, don’t bring up the issue during lovemaking—it’s much too vulnerable of a time to talk about the problems you’ve perceived in your sex life, and it won’t work.

Don’t accuse your spouse or make them feel bad; instead, communicate openly until you get to the bottom of what’s going on, and be honest about what you want—and what you miss in your relationship. Most of all, be patient and let your spouse know you love them and you’re there for them. Remember, like most seasons, this one will most likely run its course, and you’ll move into a healthier season of lovemaking soon.

Have you and your spouse been out-of-sync sexually? How did you handle the issue? We’d love for you to share your solutions in the comments section!

23 Comments

  • Stu Boyd says:

    Same situation here. We have been married 53 years and her libido is almost zero. She does not reject sex, just doesn’t care to initiate and in some cases to allow herself to participate. Talk about it for starters. We found a book on “older sex” and read it together. That provided me some ideas on how to increase our non-sexual intimacy. See a doctor. Her hormones were out of sync. I was struggling with ED issues. She is a busy lady. We calendar once a week when there are no pressures on her schedule. She is able to “get in the mood” after caring foreplay. So, some thoughts. Hope they help.

    • Laura says:

      This sounds like a much more mutual and healthy relationship than the one described above. You guys talked and are finding solutions together that let you both feel safe!

    • Durward Blanks says:

      Stu, many couples are in the same position. We have been married 42 years. My wife lost interest completely years ago. Not an easy answer with so many variables and personalities. Communication is always important and it looks like you have done well there. Unfortunately for some, it is difficult. When a wife is raised with a mother that stressed “we don’t talk about it” so much, it’s almost impossible to overcome.

  • Frustrated in California says:

    What do you do when your spouse only wants sex twice a month. When asked why there’s no interest the answer is “it’s not you but me”. When asked what they mean, I have yet to get an answer. Our marriage has virtually no romance and if I attemp romance or flirting then I usually get a response of “we’ll see or maybe”. That equals go pound sand. We have only been married for 5 years and have a 10 yr old daughter at home with us. I am frustrated and running out of ideas…..

    • V says:

      There could be many factors involved here. I suggest relationship counseling because it sounds like your wife has trouble opening up and communicating with you. Often when there’s a block that severe in communication on the wife’s end, there’s going to be a block in sexual intimacy also. It sounds like she doesn’t trust or feel comfortable telling you her thoughts or feelings, or maybe due to her upbringing, she just doesn’t know how to communicate in a healthy way. Either way, it sounds like relationship counseling is needed with a focus on communication. Also for women to open up to her partner, she has to trust him. Are there any areas she may not trust you in? Or again maybe it goes back to upbringing. In the mean time I suggest earning her trust, being available to help and listen, and find out what makes her happy and serving her in that area.

    • An interesting comment you made was any romance or flirting and she says “maybe”…so is the romance and flirting done simply to precede sex? It definitely sounds like some marriage counseling to get to the bottom of underlying issues would be helpful. Also, she might need some romance and flirting without ANY pressure for sex. Sometimes it can be off-putting if it seems like the romance is only given to get something in return. Going out of your way for this might be well worth it in the end, and you’ll be the bigger person for taking the lead!

  • saved by grace says:

    I would like to know why this is not an interactive blog where the owners respond to our comments? It seems like such a waste of time when we read these articles but never get responses to our comments or questions…

    • Durward Blanks says:

      I’m sure Les & Leslie would love to respond to all the questions/remarks. But I expect with their busy schedule it would consume all their time. And, if one question was answered, all others would get upset if theirs wasn’t.
      It would be great if they could respond, but this blog is to get others to discuss and seek help when needed.
      As a Relationship Coach, I have had to learn to limit myself or I would be spending all my time with free coaching. I do enough of that now! But, as my coaches have told me, the best way to help others is to make sure my needs are met as well.
      Blessings,

  • Whit says:

    What do you do when your husband is circumcised so the sex is painful and uncomfortable no matter how much lube, etc is used. So you find yourself not craving sex and sometimes outright avoiding sex due to the pain, discomfort, and general dissatisfaction involved? How do you cross that bridge?

    • Durward Blanks says:

      Whit, not sure you are referring to the husband or wife having pain. Regardless of who is having the pain, there is more than circumcision causing the problem. A visit to the doctor is in order.

    • V says:

      Circumcision shouldn’t cause that kind of pain unless he was circumcised recently. It sounds like he may have an infection? I agree he needs to see a doctor.

  • Maria says:

    I have found that how I am treated affected my libido. In my first marriage my then husband treated me as a sounding board for his anger and would lie to me while accusing me of lying. He would always criticize when ever we were intimate and would tell me I needed to see a doctor. Then he cheated. All of that combined b\put my desire to have sex at a zero. We divorced and later I remarried a man who cares about how I feel and my satisfaction complemented with his. Basically we have a mutual desire to make each other feel good about who we are and work together inside and outside the bedroom. That had a huge impact and change in my libido. My conclusion is libido is impacted also by how husbands and wives treat each other. The more loving, caring, and respectful we are to one another impacts our desire for intimacy with each other. To me sex is an extension of the love my husband and I have for each other. That is what I have learned in my many years. I hope this info is helpful. God bless!!

  • SJ says:

    Sex in my marriage has become a distortion to the point that it almost isn’t recognizable as any kind of normal sex life. Our sex troubles started from the day we were married and through the last 16 years have steadily gotten worse and worse. The biggest problem has been my wife’s embarrassment, shame, and disgust around anything sexual. I have been incredibly kind and encouraging to her since the day I met her and yet she is still embarrassed and disgusted by sex and sexuality. I have spent years trying everything I could, changing and bettering myself, but to no avail. What I have found is that until she decides to address the causes behind her shame and disgust, nothing will change.

    • CK says:

      Yes, I agree that she needs to work on those issues inside of herself. I don’t believe there’s much you can do to “fix” her. A book by Linda Dillow called Intimate Issues might be somewhat helpful if she is interested in addressing the issue. Have you asked her if she would be willing to see a therapist about the issue? Someone once described the difficulty that many Christian women have in this way: When we are young, we are consistently told that sex (albeit before marriage) is wrong and to be avoided. We are not specifically told that sex within the confines of marriage is bad, but neither is it described as wonderful and something to be enjoyed freely. Therefore, it becomes framed in a negative context. Then, we get married and we are supposed to embrace sex without any guilt or hesitation. For many women, that can be a very difficult transition. Add to that the possibility that some women may be dealing with shame over previous sexual encounters and it becomes quite a mess. I know that does not sound hopeful; but there IS always hope. Don’t give up and don’t stop asking God for healing in this area.

    • Belle says:

      Honestly, it sounds like she may have had a bad experience. If there was any sexual abuse or sin, counseling is needed. Keep on praying for her, and approach the subject very gently. It should be couple’s counseling first, as you both work on your marriage.

  • Aloneeventogether says:

    My husband and I had sex 4 times in 2016. We are in our early 30’s and both healthy. I am miserable as I feel unloved and undesired. In years past I had initiated, but he often was uninterested thus I no longer initiated. I don’t know how much more I can take. We have a great marriage other than this. I am considering moving out of our bedroom.

    • SJ says:

      That hurts a lot. I started keeping track one time and after three months without sex my wife just happened to make a comment about how she thought we were having sex often. I couldn’t stop myself and I corrected her, “No, we don’t have sex every week, it’s been three months.” She was honestly dumbfounded. The thing is she has a disillusioned view of our sex life. In her mind everything is fine. In reality, it is very broken. I’ve found that the only thing she needs is to be desired. She has no interest or desire to have sex. The only reason she ever allows me to engage in intercourse is to feed her ego. She doesn’t participate and wants it over as quickly as possible. The act of sex is simply proof to her that her husband still finds her attractive.

    • ponicide says:

      I wonder what else could be going on that is impacting the intimacy? Mental health issues? Stress? Pornography? Lack of self-esteem?

      How is the non-sexual affection? How is communication and respect for one another in other areas?

  • Charlie says:

    I’m so lost on this topic. I’m ready to give up. I feel I’m too pushy and she’s too scarred from her past. Add on to that health issues on her part, I never get fulfilled. She doesn’t like touch and I need it to feel loved. So… without counseling, not sure we’ll weather the storm too well.

  • Rick Mordoff says:

    We have been married over 30 years. We have more and better sex than ever before. I believe the biggest key is that I let my wife know that I am attracted to her 24/7. She used to say to me “Is sex all you think about?”. I would say no I think of food too. I would also tell her it was her fault because she was too sexy. The more I let her know I think she is beautiful and sexy the better it gets. I start when my feet hit the floor. I touch and snuggle throughout the day not just bedtime. Foreplay is an all day thing. The more I touch and hug the more comfortable she becomes releasing her inhibitions. This is not a short term endeavor but a lifestyle of loving. Don’t expect results tonite just because you remembered to kiss her good bye in the morning. Make your wife feel good about herself. DO NOT OGLE other women.
    Have fun playing all day. Use your imagination to let her know she is the only one you want.

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