Sexual frequency

(I really tried to make this post shorter, but just couldn’t do it.  I’m channeling Ayn Rand tonight!)

A BFF of mine has been married 20 + years and they are childless by choice.  They are having sex 4 to 5 times a week, and have been doing so their entire married life.   My BFFs and I were talking about this and we said, well, yeah, that’s great for you, you guys don’t have any kids.  The childless BFF agreed that it was easier for them to have so much sex, but they still had to make it a priority.  I agree, sex needs to be a priority for it to get done, just like anything else.  However, the other things going on in our lives impact our bedroom lives considerably.

So what’s the right amount?  Two times a week?  Three or four?   Of course it depends on the couple.   There are some extremes that I think should be avoided, though.  First is little to no sex because one person in the marriage doesn’t put as much importance on sex.  Then there’s the person who feels that if the urge is there, it must be acted upon, every day, twice a day, whatever it is, with no regard for  the other person’s schedule or feelings on the matter.

Example 1:  (This is a real guy, by the way)  Job feels the need for sex every single day.  He says he just can’t go without it for even  one day.  If his wife is on her period she will accommodate him in different ways.  They have many children (Quiverful).  Job ran into problems at first, when they had lots of small children to care for and Sarah was very, very busy.  He just was not getting his daily dose of sex.  So he started calendaring it.  Big red X on the days he didn’t get it.  Shame on you, Sarah!  You are not meeting my needs!  He also started quoting scripture at her to make her understand that her body was not her own anymore, it was his.   So they devised a plan.   In the evenings, while she was nursing her baby, she would lie on her side, they would spoon in bed and he would have sex with her.  Problem solved!  Sarah was pretty much immobilized, couldn’t really do anything else, now, could she?  And Job got his daily dose of sex.   I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!!!!!  I find this utterly despicable.   Where is the man’s self control?  His compassion?  His understanding?  Oh, yeah, HE DOESN’T HAVE ANY.  He has no blood going to his brain and so he can only think with the part of his body where all the blood is.

Example 2:  (Also real people.)  Jim knows his wife’s love language.  So he does all he can to give her love the way she wants it.  He writes poetry for his wife.  He sings her songs.  He frequently gives her hour long backrubs.   He takes her out to nice restaurants and tries to make their date nights special and memorable.  He helps out around the house.  He does the dishes.  He does his own laundry.  He helps with the kids.  He makes sure she has “me time”.    He works very hard so she can be a stay-at-home mom.   He thinks his wife is beautiful.  Now, Sue is a very nice person.  She is sweet and caring.  She is a wonderful mother and a wonderful friend.  She loves and appreciates Jim very much.  She loves to cuddle, hold hands, whisper sweet nothings, take romantic walks, play footsie under the table, give him sexy looks, rip open the shower curtain and show off her body to him, and fall asleep every night in front of the TV.   To Sue, having sex at the end of a perfect, romantic date just ruins the romance.  She does not think sex is romantic.  If she and Jim have sex once every month or two, she feels that is enough.  While I don’t find this behavior despicable, I do find it extremely selfish.

I would venture to guess that most couples have different need levels in any marriage.  It is probably more common for the man to need sex more frequently than the woman, but there are plenty of women who are not having their needs met by their husbands, too.

So what’s the right amount?    I personally think that the person with the least sexual desire should NOT be the one determining how much and how often.  For me and my marriage, I had to step it up.  Back when sex was not on the list for me,  Conan would remind me how long it had been every 15 minutes, it seemed to me,  ha ha!  (see my post on why is my husband always, always asking for sex, sex and more sex?)   and then I’d  acquiesce when I couldn’t hold him off any longer .   Without Conan reminding me,  I wouldn’t think about it again for weeks.   This was very, very hard on Conan.  Which I completely didn’t understand!  Nobody was telling me or had ever told me about any of this kind of stuff.   So I shouldn’t have been the one determining frequency of sex in our marriage.

Now, if Conan wanted it every day, which he doesn’t, as I discovered after I stopped saying no all the time, I feel that would be unreasonable if I had lots of demands on my time already, especially little kids.    It shouldn’t become an ironclad law that sex must be had every day or else you’ll get a big red X on the calendar!   But I did have to make sex a priority in my life for the health of my marriage.

I’ve learned, after 24 years, that marriage is a lot of compromise and negotiation.  And negotiating sexual frequency requires compromise!  Oh, and communication.   If Conan hadn’t made me crazy with his asking for sex all the time, it wouldn’t have become a priority for me to learn about why this was happening and what I should do about it.   If he hadn’t said anything I would have gone about my merry way, perfectly content with the way things were.   And I would be missing out on the benefits of a happy sex life.   On the flip side, I think that if one spouse wants it every day and the other one doesn’t, then maybe that higher frequency spouse can scale it down just a bit, out of consideration.   And they will still benefit from a happy sex life.

So I think that, like a lot of things in marriage, that meeting in the middle somewhere is good.  The spouse who wants it every day can say, okay, honey, how about 3-4 times a week?  The spouse who doesn’t have much of a sex drive can say, okay, I’ll commit to 2-3 times a week and see how that goes and maybe add one more time if it works out.

So communicate what you want and need and negotiate and compromise about it.  I hope and pray for happy, healthy marriages!

11 thoughts on “Sexual frequency

  1. I agree 100% that the first guy is a jerk and I am sure his wife feels quite used. If I were her, I know I would.

    The second guy’s story hits close to the mark with me. Jim’s halo sounds like it is a bit bigger than mine and my dear wife is more accomodating than every month or two. But your point is well taken.

    Zookie – your post is good for me in that I am about to have a real heart-to-heart with my wife telling her more firm than before that our differences – and especially her lack of wanting to work on those in the least – is placing a strain on our marriage that is greatly increasing the risk that we eventually have a parallel marriage or even worse (not that I want that at all!) I am going to tell her that I keep hearing of stories like yours where you have more intimacy and surprisingly you like it better!

    And Zookie – pace yourself! This blog is GREAT! Lots of great topics. I just worry that you are going to burn yourself out or run out of topics.

    • Thanks so much, Guy! Run out of topics? Isn’t the subject of sex nearly endless? ha ha!
      I hope things work out well when you talk to your wife. I’m sure I’m not the only one sending up a little prayer to heaven for you.

  2. I agree with Guy: great blog but don’t burn yourself out…

    I think that in most cases “compromise” ends up being whatever the low-desire spouse wants. Even a spouse who agrees to have sex more often than they would like to will soon start finding excuses to cut back and eventually will get the frequency all the way back to the level they are comfortable with.

    Recently I asked my wife if we could go from once a week to twice a week. Without skipping a beat, she instantly gave me three obviously pre-prepared reasons why we just couldn’t do that. I figured she’d say no, but I was surprised that she already had her reasons standing by and all ready to go!

    • Thanks Norm!
      You’re exactly right. The low desire spouse doesn’t want to increase frequency, and often will say they will but never do. They need to step it up, whether they want to or not. But the low desire spouse has to have something of a change of heart for her/him to ever do that. And I believe that the person being refused needs to keep pushing (gently but firmly) if they are ever going to get what they want or need.

      I wish I could talk to your wife and ask her if she thinks the way she’s doing it is working out for her.

      • Well, Zookie, if you did ask her she’d probably say that it IS working out just fine. I’m still showing up after 40 years and she still doesn’t have to have sex more than once-a-week! Of course, once a month would be more to her liking, so I shouldn’t really complain about once a week.

  3. As I have gotten older, I have found that frequency is not what I have been craving, but the emotional attachment and oneness with my wife. I don’t readily get that from more frequent “being available sex”. I urn for her participatory presence in the experience and her showing that she is a sexual being and subject to the rightful and rightous passion that should be found in marriage. This has been a bit of an obsticle, since she has a hard time seeking her own pleasure, either by her own actions or her requests. It is a detraction to the whole experience when I try pushing different buttons to see what might work on a give day, without any feed back, other than “don’t worry about me” or “I don’t think I am going to get there”; knowing that she really could “get there”, with her being willing to contribute with more open participation and willingness to be more engaged mentally. My experience is exponentially improved with the more pleasure my wife gets out of the experience. Her arousal, and passion when shown, heightens my experience and increases the feeling of oneness with her.

    • Chet, you are always so right! Frequency is a good place to start, and then a couple can really get closer when they are both getting and giving pleasure. I’m sure there’s something scientific about the brain and endorphins and hormones and stuff. But it does bring husband and wife closer together to give and get and seek pleasure together.

    • I would have to agree with Chet. I can say that having sex with my wife with her saying, “hurry up – I am falling asleep” sure does not leave me feeling all that wonderful. But I do think women need to understand that for most men, without enough sex – it is hard to feel the expressions of love.

  4. I recently heard a radio discussion with a sex therapist on the topic of problems in marriage because of the different sexual desire levels between spouses. BTW this goes both ways. There are woman with the high desire level who have spouses with the lower desire level and they have the same issues. The therapist said that this problem is very common and can be worked out. However the spouse with the low level of desire has to learn lessons of generosity and (not or) the higher level spouse has to learn lessons of patience. Both spouses have to learn to give and take. That is what a healthy marriage is about. Both partners working to make sure both partners needs and desires are met. Both can be happy and satisfied if both work at it! I wish I had learned this earlier in my marriage.

    Oh – and I have found out that “the more you do it the more you want it” saying really does work – IF you have a generous attitude about it to start with! And also – use it or lose it is also true especially as we got older. So women (and men) my advice – do it more cause you don’t want to risk losing it! Trust me – I know!!! lol

  5. I recently found your blog & read the entire thing. Thank you for doing it. My wife & I have been married 27 years. I’m 49 & she’s 64 & we have 4 children. We married when I was fresh off my mission after baptizing her & her then 2 children. We then had 2 of our own. She had been married several times before & was very sexually active prior to meeting me & joining the church. She was always the higher desiring partner & even divorced a couple of guys who couldn’t keep up with her. Since our marriage she has compensated for her past by developing the Good Girl Syndrome to the 10th degree. I was a virgin on our wedding night & we only did it once the entire first week. Since then it has been 3 or 4 times a year. She had cancer (all is good now) & is on anti-depression meds that killed any sliver of desire on her part. She is very young looking & very desirable to me & I tell her that all the time. She just responds by saying that she is too old to think about sex any more & that we’ll just have to wait for the hereafter ! Then she’ll say she loves me but would understand if I left her. I’m stuck because I’m not going any where. I give her complete massages every night & am fanatical with helping out around the house. I’m an attorney & have tried to spoil her with temporal matters as well. However, the Good Girl Syndrome kicks in & I am told we need to give all extra money to the kids or the church (of which I have always been generous). I won’t pleasure myself so my only outlet is my work, church callings, cycling & a monthly wet dream which I never have the pleasure to recall LOL. Just posting this has been therapeutic. I’ll keep following your blog & living through you guys!

    • You have quite a story. I have some opinions (of course!) and will get into that a bit later. For now, welcome David! And thank you for reading my blog!

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