How much sex does your relationship need?

Frequency of sex is a usual cause of conflict that arises in almost all relationships that last more than two years. It causes tension, fights, and hurt feelings. Often, both partners feel misunderstood and frustrated.

Regardless of their level of satisfaction, most couples will end up having some conflict regarding sex. Research shows that one of the most common questions among couples revolves around sexual frequency or how often the couple is involved in sexual intimacy. In a stereotyped manner, this involves a male partner seeking more frequency than his female counterpart, but this is not always the case. Regardless, unmet expectations in the bedroom can advance and cause communication problems, generate a lack of emotional connection and general instability in the relationship.

So, how can you combat this negative effect? What is the right amount of sex? Here are some general thoughts to help couples make sure that this problem is not harming the other parts of their relationship.

What should be the sexual frequency of a couple?

The correct answer to this question is that there is no “right amount”. Each couple is different and, more importantly, each one may have their life circumstances changed due to illness, careers and children (among many other things) that will interfere with their sexual desire and availability. There may be times in a couple’s life when sexual intimacy is perfectly possible every day, and at other times a logistical impossibility.

Research shows that an “average” couple usually has sex about 2 to 3 times a week. However, if you are concerned about being average, you would be encouraged to think about your intimacy over the course of several weeks or even several months. Each couple will have good and bad weeks in terms of intimate attendance, as there is no magic number that couples need to reach in order to be “healthy”.

How to avoid conflict over sexual intimacy?

For the partner who wants more:

Understand that intimacy is a two-way street. Sex obviously involves two people. It is very clear that sex is more rewarding, enjoyable and satisfying if both partners desire intimacy. If you are the partner who wants to have sex more regularly, realize that having sex every day may not be the pleasant experience that you think it will be if your partner’s desire does not match yours. Accept willingly to postpone intimacy if your spouse is not in a good mood and avoid taking it as a personal rejection.

For the partner wanting less:

Understand that your better half is probably looking for closeness and not just physical gratification. Often, the person who wants less sex sees his partner as obsessed and overly focused on the physical element of the relationship and that this is all the other person is concerned about. It is important for the person who wants less sex to realize that attempts at sexual involvement are good signs of a healthy relationship and often come from a desire for both physical and emotional connection. In our modern world there are plenty of alternatives that people can turn to (online or not) if they are just looking for personal gratification. Your partner’s attempts at intimate closeness probably stem from the love and desire for closeness to you.

For both partners:

Talk without holding back. Even among couples who have had sexual intimacy for many years, this can be a taboo topic. In order to engage in healthy communication, it is vital for each couple to address related issues openly. If one partner wants more intimacy and the other does not, try to postpone it to a more opportune moment and let your partner who is not in the mood clearly explain why.

While it may not seem romantic, scheduling intimacy can be a very practical and useful thing for many couples (especially those with children). Schedule for the next day and then spend the day flirting and teasing each other. Make sex something the other wants to have too. Another option may be to take turns in the “burden” of planning and initiating intimacy. Above all, talk about intimacy and sex.

These tips can help many couples avoid conflict over sexual frequency, but it is unlikely to help with bigger and more conflicting issues that some couples may be experiencing. If you are concerned that problems of sexual intimacy have created more chronic or long-term problems in your relationship, you can see a psychologist or reach out to us. 

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