How Much Sex Does Your Relationship Need?

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couple in bed after sex

It’s a conflict that comes up in almost every relationship that has managed to last for a year or two (or maybe even just a few months).  It causes tension, fights, and hurt feelings.  Often both partners feel misunderstood and frustrated.  Regardless of their satisfaction level, most couples will eventually have some conflict regarding sex.  Research shows that one of the most common fights couples have centers around sexual frequency or how often the couple is engaging in sexual intimacy.  Stereotypically this involves a male partner seeking higher frequency than his female counterpart but this is not always the case.  Regardless, unmet expectations in the bedroom can trickle over and cause communication problems, a lack of emotional connection, and general instability in the relationship.  So how do you counter such negativity?  What is the right amount of sex?  Here are some general thoughts to help make sure this issue doesn’t undermine the other parts of your relationship.


How much sex should a couple have?


The right answer to this question is that there is no “right amount.”  Every couple is different and, more importantly, every person encounters changing life circumstances due to illness, careers, and children (among many other things) that will interact with sexual desire and availability.  There may be times in a couple’s life where having sex every day would be perfectly possible while at other times it would be a logistical impossibility.  Research shows that an “average” couple generally has sex about 2-3 times per week.  However, if you’re worried that you’re under this average I would encourage you to think about your intimacy over the course of several weeks or even several months. Again, every couple will have good and bad weeks in terms of intimacy frequency and there is no magic number that couples need to hit to be “healthy”.


How do you avoid negative conflict about sexual intimacy?


For the partner wanting more:

Understand intimacy is a two-way street.  Sex obviously involves two people.  It is very clear from research that sex is more fulfilling, enjoyable, and satisfying if both partners have a desire for that intimacy.  If you are the partner who wants to have sex more regularly, realize that having sex every day may not be the enjoyable experience you think it will be if your partner’s desire does not match your own.  Be okay with delaying intimacy if your partner isn’t in the mood and avoid taking this as a personal rejection.


For the partner wanting less:

Understand that your partner is likely seeking connection, not physical gratification.  Often the person who wants less sex views their partner as sex crazed and overly focused on the physical element of the relationship.  It can feel like this is all your partner cares about.  It is important for the person desiring less sex to realize that attempts to engage in sex are one of the best signs of a healthy relationship and are often coming from a desire for both physical and emotional connection.  In our modern world there are plenty of places that people can turn to (online or otherwise) if they are only seeking personal gratification.  Your partner’s attempts to be intimate are likely coming from a loving place and a desire to be intimate with you.  Treat such attempts as such and be careful about how your reaction might be overly negative or feel rejecting to your partner.


For both partners:

Talk about the taboo.  Even among married couples who have been sexually intimate for many years, sex can be a taboo topic.  In order to engage in healthy communication it is vital that such couples bring issues related to sex out in the open.  If one partner wants to become intimate and the other doesn’t, talk about a “rain check” and have the partner who isn’t in the mood explain clearly why.  While it may not sound romantic, scheduling intimacy can be a very practical and useful thing for many couples (especially those with children).  Schedule that rain check for the next day and then spend the day flirting and teasing each other.  Make it something you both look forward too.  Another option may be to take turns being in “charge” of planning and initiating intimacy.  Above all else, talk about intimacy and sex.


While these things may help many couples avoid conflict regarding the frequency of sex, it is unlikely to help larger and more conflictual issues some couples may be experiencing.  If you’re worried that sexual intimacy problems have created more long-term or chronic issues in your relationship, take the RELATE assessment and get a complete picture of the health of your relationship.

Written by:  Dr. Brian Willoughby

13 Responses to “How Much Sex Does Your Relationship Need?”

  1. Tony

    I have been married for over 18 yrs and in that course I would venture to say that my spouse and I have had sex 200 times during this duration. I have had extra marital relations and since then have contemplated divorce on numerous occasions. I am very frustrated and tired and pretty much at my wits end, do you have any advice?

    • support

      Tony, that sounds like a really painful experience for you to go through. Have you been able to communicate your frustration with your sex life to your spouse? It sounds like they don’t know the extent of your feelings, or, if they do, feel that there is something in your marriage that is worth fighting for. Perhaps if they knew you have contemplated divorce they would be able to work with you to make sure your needs are being met.
      We would really encourage you to find a Marriage and Family therapist to reach out to. Even if you and your spouse decide that a divorce is what you want to aim for rather than a reconciliation, a therapist can act as a mediator to help you both get to that place with as little pain as possible.
      Best of luck to you!

  2. James

    Me and my wife argue A lot about sex, she always say that’s all you want… Sometimes we go without having sex for months I’m getting to the point when I want a divorce. We only 33 years old we in or prime time for sex, I just don’t understand or situation. We travel went to pr, Jamica this year just to try to make things work out.. Still no sex how I would like … Three times out a week would be find… What can I do to fix it?

    • support

      James, I’m really sorry that you and your wife are struggling in this area. Sometimes it seems that the more effort and pressure we put on sexual intimacy, the less intimate and less enjoyable it becomes. I wonder if that has started to happen in your marriage. When was a time in your relationship with your wife that you were most happy with your physical relationship? For many people it’s the beginning of the relationship when everything is new and exciting. To try and get back to that place, put sex completely off the table and see what else you can do to stimulate each other. Perhaps that means passionate kissing sessions, or romantic massages. By deciding as a couple to no longer worry about sex, and find ways to otherwise be intimate, that stress that has built up around trying to that get spark back can go away. Hopefully as you focus on foreplay-like activities, sex will soon follow without any forethought. Best of luck to you.

    • Londongal

      Maybe your wife is not sexually attracted to you but married you for love, personality, lifestyle match etc

  3. Albert

    Hello Ive been married six years and i can say that my wife and i have decent sex.sometimes 2or 3or four times a week,but it seems like her needs or satisfacción isnt enough its like every time when im done its like cam you go another round and im like ok well that was great sex.what the hell.i think her problem is that shw wants me to last ahours sometimes i have to take the pill to give her more but that is not to gratifying beacuse the se sensación is not all there just a hard on and sometimes after im exausted ill say something like ok im tired beacuse i dont feel like im going to ejaculate anymore…and she sems to get it,not sure if shes reaching her clímax but i trully belive so.i meen i had my share of women and not all have the same way of expressing an orgasm etc…im 46 years old so i know.and sometimes i feel like maybe buying a toy can be helpfull but then again it can be negative i just would like her to umderstand that i dont want to feel presure and feel like sex sex sex all the time and frustración is starting to set in were im about to say lets just divorce and find what it is your looking for beacuse im not sure if shes happy or just ot beeing true to herself and her feelings..thanks you any comment can help..

    • Tania

      You need to make her orgasm n make sure…..theres no “way” to express one unique to everyone…..she either had one or not….also you need to talk n communicate all this to her….and fulfill her emotionally as this is MOST important…if u can make her feel loved, confortable, listened to, then u go for the sex act….she will respond better….and Never skip or Rush foreplay….like 15-20 minutes of kissing/gentle foreplay….and hear her out how she feels….then u can go for trying to make her orgasm….n make sure she has one EVERY TIME….if she doesn’t she will be frustrated n upset…or still wanting more. Hope this helps, and u can pick up a bunch of books to help u better stimulate her emotionally n physically n then she could be ok n not wanting u to perform for so much time. Blessings and remember a couples sex life is ever-changing, talk and pray together have patience and be calm n honest even if times get hard.

  4. Natalie

    Im so frustrated at my situation…my partner and i have been together over 2 years and the subject involving sex always turns into a fight..I am at a level 12 where he is a 1 on the need scale…I agree my appetite is large and his is not so I turned my frequency down to 1x a week and am finding myself having to fight for that…it is so hurtful to constantly be rejected and left feeling undesired, unloved and unwanted…I love this man but this is taking a serious toll on our relationship and leaving me wondering if we should even continue to be together any longer as I feel this will never be resolved

  5. B5ghyt5

    Im a female in the position of wanting more! My partner is so lazy.
    I went tgrough a very bad patch being very depressed and never wanted sex now i love sex and he never wants it more than once a fortnight twice if im lucky! Then the time of the month comes round n we cant but he wants to!
    All we ever argue about is sex! So frustrating

  6. Shakira

    Me and my husband been together for 2 1/2 years now and have a babygirl together. Somehow we manage to always have this argument about me not wanting to have sex some days and end up in bad terms. We can have sex multiple times a day or a week. Even with that he still constantly always asking for more which makes it an everyday thing. Its gotten to the point where it always leads to a big argument. Its not that im not attracted to him because he’s the love of my life and is amazingly sexy but sometimes im just not in the mood. Im a stay at home mom and its a lot of pressure put on me for everything. But he considers it me not being attracted to him. Any help in how i can fix this ?

  7. Stephanie

    Im 33. My hisband is 34. We used to have sex every day…before kids before marraige. I have a very high sex drive I would like sex every day but realize he can’t keep up. We have sex once a week if im lucky…but its the same almost every time…i always go down on him everytime..then i have to be on top because he has a bad back already and hurts it when he tries to be on top…weve done it in the shower and laundry room but it’s hard to spice things up when living with kids and other members of my family. We both work bit he usually uses the excuse that he is too tired or his back hurts…or worse he needs a shower and is too lazy to take one. I’m the type of person that needs intimate relations to feel connected to my partner…so the less sex we have the more we fight over nothing. Im also pregnant with my 2nd and his 5th child (he was married before me)…so i feel less desirable but am even more needy and horny than usual. He says he is even more attracted to me when im pregnant but it really doesnt show lately. I love him but i dont know how to feel secure without the sex he isnt giving me.

  8. Michael Jr

    Hi my name’s Mike
    I have a kid he is 16 months old
    I currently live and and I’m with my son’s Mother
    We are having communication issues in our relationship I feel like I’m just a piece of meat to her…..he have been thru some much and neither of us are perfect at all …. Know on is to blame for anything the root of our latest arguments have been Sex and spending time together …….we live together ……. But on the weekend we barely see each other we don’t go to each other family function very often our son sorta had weeks with me and weeks with her I believe our biggest problem is actually being involved in each other’s life thru a 7 day week ……..her current issue with me is not having a high sexually drive and rejection from me at times when she wants something I don’t want and sometimes I give in but I feel like she generally knows when in really up for it and I’m not but I believe sex is more valuable when your married I’m not married yet I went to church and I know I’m commiting a sin Everytime she doesn’t t understand thou she really wants me to be nasty all the time or when she wants me to be that way and I’m supposed to be that way when she wants I’m so scared for our relationship …..I’ve tried to talk to her she just shuts down and says I’m rejecting her and that’s all she looks as it as ….I just keep saying I a peiece of meat ….that my sexual presence can be replaced by anyone and if that’s all she wants she will eventually leave me someone please help me.

  9. Scatlett

    Me and my husband, both have high sex drive. We have about 5 times a week. Is this normar? Or is this good ot bad for us? We have a strong and healthy relationship l.


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