We Disagree on How Often We Should Have Sex

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Many, many couples face what’s known as a sexual desire discrepancy or a desire gap. One spouse wants sex more often than the other. Statistics seem to show that for couples that have a desire discrepancy for about 1/3 of them, the wife has the higher level of desire and for the other 2/3 of them the husband has the higher level. There are times when a gap like this can cause quite a bit of conflict in the couple. The couple may begin to argue more in general because they are connecting less often physically, or they may even begin fighting directly about sex. Luckily, there is hope! If you and your spouse have been arguing about sex, or if you just feel like the two of you disagree on how often you should have sex, watch this 6.5 minute video for some advice on lessening the gap or gaining some compromise.

Just in case you’re at work 😉 here’s the transcript, just cleaned up a bit for clarity.

Hi Dr. McCleese here from Better Than the Honeymoon and I had a question come in that I just want to share with you here on the blog.

So the question is this:
“This probably boils down to the age-old question ‘how much sex should we have.’ I’ve come to believe that individuals have their own comfort zone or a set point with respect to the role of sex in their lives and the challenge arises when the individuals that make up the marriage are at different places. There’s nothing wrong with having a low drive and nothing wrong with having a high drive but if these two people are married, they’ll always have this gap between them. So can you advise on actions or intentions that each should attend to to minimize conflict in the marriage.”

Is there really a gap?

First of all we want to see if there really is a gap between you or a discrepancy in sex drive. Sometimes couples believe that one exists because one will be thinking in their head “I’d like to have sex tonight” but they don’t approach their spouse for whatever reason. This makes them believe, “well my spouse doesn’t want to have sex as often as I do.”

But your spouse may be thinking the exact same thing –

Here’s a challenge for you and your spouse. Grab you a piece of paper and answer this question.

“If I could if I had the time how often would I have sex in any given week?”

Write your number down on paper don’t show it to your spouse yet because you each need to answer without influence from the other.

Now, once you’ve both written your number down show the numbers to one another. You might be surprised how closely those numbers actually align with each other. Oftentimes it does.

How often should we have sex?

However, if you happen to be in a relationship where there is a significant gap there are certainly some steps you can take to reduce that gap or at least work through the conflict that comes because of the gap.

So first of all because the age-old question is “how much sex should we have,” let’s start there.

How often you have sex really is unique to the two of you as a couple. How often to you want to be intimate?

If you’re looking for the average number, most research tells us that the average couple has sex somewhere between once and twice a week. If you’re aiming for average, that would be the number you’re looking for. But I would encourage you not to let average be your ideal. Instead decide on your own ideal.

So let’s say that we do have someone that has a significantly higher drive than their spouse; here are some ways you can handle that.

Understand One Another

The higher drive spouse:

First of all I want you to understand the viewpoint that each one of you has. Typically, the higher drive person is perceived by the lower drive person as only caring about sex; and thinking “all you want is sex. That’s not very intimate and I’m being used.”

So it can help sometimes to express to your spouse that sex goes far beyond just a physical desire. Let your spouse know that you’re not just looking for an orgasm but you really are trying to connect. Let your spouse know that you feel lonely when they’re not around are not available for intimacy. Let them know that it’s part of the way you feel more strongly bonded with them. Use your own words and your own feelings to express to them what sex means to you.

The lower drive spouse:

Now for the lower drive spouse there can be lots of reasons why a lower desire a lower drive exists. It could be because:

  • You’re tired or lacking energy
  • If the relationship itself is on the rocks it can be hard to feel like you want to have sex with one another
  • If your spouse has told you it hasn’t been enjoyable in the past it can be hard to want to make love

For both of you:

I encourage you to to sit down as a couple and talk about how often you would like to have sex and then if there’s a significant gap talk a little bit about what some compromise would look like.

I’ve seen it several times in blogs and an other advice where people will say, “well you never have to have sex with your spouse” and and that’s true you never have to do anything with your spouse really but we do know that it’s part of how God bonds us in marriage and it’s part of how intimacy grows.

Now a lot of times for the lower drive spouse what’s actually happening is there’s not a pursuit for sex. The lower drive spouse might be quite interested in sex if they are just pursued. And so oftentimes the person who is the pursuer naturally will feel like, “well if my spouse wanted sex they would pursue me.” In this case, they expect their spouse to come to intimacy the same way they would but that’s not necessarily going to work.

You might want to actually ask your spouse about that. “If I pursued the way you want me to, would you want to have sex more often?” Or for the lower drive spouse, you can offer that information: “If you’ll pursue me like this _____ I’ll be more ready and excited.”

If there is a sexual desire gap…

Now if there is a significant gap then I have advice for each of you.

For the higher drive spouse, I would encourage you, like I said earlier, be really open. Let your spouse know what sex means to you.

For the lower drive spouse allow yourself to engage with your spouse and see if that arousal level comes up while you’re actually beginning sexual activity. If you have more of a desire to be pursued as a lower drive spouse then what you may actually need is just to make out with your spouse a little more. You might find that cuddling up on the couch or turning turning off the TV and actually just talking to one another will raise that level of desire for you.

As a couple, one of the things that will be most helpful is for you guys to figure out what is it that kind of sets the mood for you. What can you do to pursue your spouse and how does your spouse like to be pursued? If you have a lot of problems in this area and you find that it causes a lot of conflict I would certainly encourage you to see somebody that can work with you on your marriage and if you’re looking for someone that’s a Christian sex therapist contact me here. I’d be more than happy to point you in the right direction and help you find someone in your area.

Until then blessings on you your marriage and your sex life!

Dr. J.

couple more resources:

I didn’t mention it in this video, but if you’re looking for some more tips for working on a fully connected sex life, check out my guide, Enhancing the Dance.

Check out the webinar I did with Bonny of OysterBed7 where we talk about reducing the desire gap in your marriage.

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