How Often Does Your Marriage Need Sex?

June 26, 2015

in Uncategorized

You knew this one was coming, right? 

First, let me acknowledge many of you are more interested in sex than your husband. Statistics put it at 20%-25% of marriages, and I suspect it’s higher among reads of this blog. The good news is this post is still for you. (Also for you is our new survey – Husbands Saying No to Sex)

Sex Education © Marek | dollarphotoclub.com

The title of this post says How Often Does YOUR MARRIAGE Need Sex. This isn’t about what either you or your husband wants; it’s about what is necessary for a healthy, happy marriage. 

I’ve studied this issue for a very long time. I’ve read research and surveys, and dug into the Bible. I’ve talked to experts and a great many husbands and wives. Based on all that, here’s my minimum “sex prescription” for marriages:

Sexual intercourse every other day, with female orgasm as often as she wants but at least half the time.

Let’s break that down a bit.

Sexual Intercourse

It turns out not all sex is the same. For example, studies find an orgasm during intercourse results in five times a much prolactin being released into the body as an orgasm from masturbation. This is true for both men and women. Other studies have shown intercourse affects our bodies and minds differently than all other sex acts. What’s more, some of the benefits of sex (which include better health, longer life, and looking younger) occur more strongly with intercourse, or only occur with intercourse. 

Any sex that does not harm your body is good, but intercourse is the best. As most sex related benefits max out or start to level off at 3 to 4 times a week, it seems wise to include intercourse at least this often. If you have sex more often, do whatever you both like.

And yes, this means him wanting oral every time is a problem!

Every Other Day

Three or four times a week would probably be just as good, as long as it’s not a one day marathon. Feast and famine sex isn’t good, especially for him. As with food, the best approach is regular sane amounts. However, if your schedule means you manage every Friday and Saturday, most Sundays, and one other day a week, you’re doing well.

Female Orgasm

If you want several every time, I think your hubby needs to do whatever it takes for you to have them. However, some women say they’re happy to have sex without orgasm. I’m not going to say they’re wrong, but while some of the benefits of sex come from just having intercourse, others are tied to orgasm. If you don’t want it every time, or find every time difficult, don’t stress. If you’re happy going a week or more between orgasms, I urge you to work on doing so more often.

Beyond the Body

Sex has great benefits for our bodies and physical health, but it also does great things for our marriage relationships. Women who have sex more often are happier with their marriages, and couples who have sex more often are less likely to get divorced. I’m sure some of this is more sex in good marriages, but several studies have found just having more sex improves most marriages. At the very least, sex is a good barometer of the general health of a marriage.

Reality

All of this is nice, but we have jobs, and kids, and lives to live! If we lived on an island with plenty of food and few neighbours, we’d all be having sex daily, right?

What I’ve shared here is what I see in the data. It’s what is best for our physical, emotional, and marital health. How you apply it to your marriage is between you, your husband, and God.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I’m all about making my marriage better!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

IntimacySeeker June 26, 2015 at 3:12 am

Paul, can you comment on the benefits for women that result only from orgasm? I heard recently that women receive more oxytocin during foreplay than during orgasm, hence their take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Apparently there is more than the oxytocin release to consider.

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Paul Byerly June 26, 2015 at 11:38 am

@IntimacySeeker – Everything I’ve seen says levels of oxytocin are highest at orgasm (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3782434). It seems high levels of oxytocin are necessary for orgasm, at least in women, which is why foreplay is so important. There are also a couple of studies showing giving oxytocin results in stronger orgasms. It’s an interesting feedback loop.
Additionally orgasm results in a release of prolactin. The theory is prolactin reverses the effects of arousal on the body and mind. In men more prolactin means greater loss of sexual interest. There is some speculation repeated arousal not followed by a release of prolactin may be detrimental. It leaves the body, and/or mind in a place it should not stay for long periods.
Paul Byerly recently posted…How Often Does Your Marriage Need Non-Sexual Touch?My Profile

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IntimacySeeker June 26, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Listen to Dr. Jessica McCleese on episode 36 (June 4) at delightyourmarriage.com. – minutes 22-26. It makes sense that the levels are highest AT orgasm if women are receiving oxytocin throughout foreplay. She clearly states that we receive more oxytocin during foreplay than during orgasm. She also mentions that when surveyed, most women do not name orgasm as the favorite part of their most recent sexual encounter.

I found all this interesting and wondered if it could take some pressure off some folks who struggle with this. You have posted before about men being so frustrated over their inability to “satisfy” their wives. This would indicate that lots of foreplay is often the very satisfaction those wives long for.

Reply

Paul Byerly June 26, 2015 at 3:31 pm

@IntimacySeeker – I’d love to know her source for that as it conflicts with several studies I’ve seen. That said this is a moving target and there is new information all the time.
I do understand the issue of feeling pressure, and I know some men want more for their wife than she wants or needs. I can see how that would put a woman off the whole thing!
Paul Byerly recently posted…How Often Does Your Marriage Need Non-Sexual Touch?My Profile

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John June 26, 2015 at 4:59 am

Any pastor that tries to bring this up in a sermon on sex, would be immediately drummed out of the church by the women.

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Paul Byerly June 26, 2015 at 11:40 am

@John – Some pastors have done it and survived. One Dallas pastor suggested his married parishioners should have sex every day for a week. Got a lot of press back in 2012.
Things are changing.
Paul Byerly recently posted…How Often Does Your Marriage Need Non-Sexual Touch?My Profile

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libl June 27, 2015 at 8:13 am

My previous pastor did and I was cheering and challenged every wife there who did complain. When it comes to sex, I often wind up in the unhappy husband’s camp even though I am a wife. I say my husband has a great marriage and sex life. Wish I could say the same.

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Paul Byerly June 27, 2015 at 1:05 pm

@libl – Good for you! Peer pressure can work both ways. I actually think the anti-sex crowd are now a minority in a majority of churches, but they have tradition and momentum on their side.
Paul Byerly recently posted…How Often Does Your Marriage Need Sex?My Profile

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T July 2, 2015 at 12:00 pm

@Paul, regarding your comments-

Just because a woman doesn’t want to have sex every day doesn’t make her “anti-sex.” You do such a great job on your blog of not getting preachy or divisive, and that’s one of the reasons I read your blog. But often the comments areas, and especially the TMB forum, foster an “Us against Them” attitude. This will only serve to further frustrate or alienate the marriages having the most trouble.

IMO a pastor should preach about the role of sex in marriage, but never about specific frequency. (Not saying you were doing this, referring to the pastor you mentioned. You gave a personal opinion, based in research, not from a position of teaching God’s Word. Totally appropriate.) But from the pulpit – the Bible doesn’t address this quantitatively. It is appropriate for a pastor to *challenge* his congregation to try 7 days of sex, but not for him to say “You Should…” because that is an extra-Biblical opinion. A specific frequency is not a matter of “right and wrong.” We are not to add to the words of God as if it’s Truth. I hope that was just a problem with word choice in your comment.

Regarding your post – there are weaknesses in sex research. Sometimes cause and effect can be misrepresented. “Women who have sex more often are happier with their marriages, and couples who have sex more often are less likely to get divorced.” Couples with healthier marriages who are less likely to get divorced, probably want to have sex more often. Women who are happier with their marriages probably want to have sex more often.

“I’m sure some of this is more sex in good marriages, but several studies have found just having more sex improves most marriages. At the very least, sex is a good barometer of the general health of a marriage.” I’m glad you made this disclaimer.

Research probably cannot adequately distinguish between the effects of sex and making love. I doubt prostitutes and rape victims get health benefits or feel more connected to their sex partners. It probably has a lot more to do with what the act means to the participants, than the act itself. “Just do it” – because you ought to, because it’s good for you, because it will help your marriage, etc. is no panacea. I have been sexually generous for over a year, but without *desire* there is no benefit.

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Paul Byerly July 3, 2015 at 10:45 am

@T – I think you have connected some dots I was not connecting. I don’t think not wanting sex daily makes anyone anti-sex. But there are folks who are anti-sex, or at least against any mention of sex at chruch.
I agree there are problems with all research, and sexual research is particularly difficult. As to frequency and happiness or marital health it serves as a barometer if nothing else.
You touch on one huge problem with sex research – much of it is done with unmarried folks. I don’t think a college age person having sex with several people in a year is anything like a commited married couple. That said a few well done recent studies were done on married couples, and the findings were significant. For women in particular happiness, marital satisfaction, and freqnet sex all go together.
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T July 2, 2015 at 11:29 am

“I say my husband has a great marriage and sex life.” Well, what does HE say about his marriage and sex life? Maybe he says YOU have a great marriage and sex life. Just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true.

I hope your negativity in these comments is like mine; you are complaining here because you are frustrated and don’t have an outlet. I can understand that, and I’m guilty too. But if you are this negative with him, it could be why he doesn’t want to have sex with you. You come across like he’s not good enough for you. If he senses this, it would surely diminish desire.

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DC June 26, 2015 at 5:44 am

Would you mind posting some links to the different research mentioned? That sounds interesting to read up on!

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Paul Byerly June 26, 2015 at 11:45 am

@DC – The article at http://healyourselfathome.com/HOW/NEWSTARTS/9_SEX/sex_surprising_health_benefits.aspx gives a good many links. Most of what’s been done on this is in journals and abstracts are all one can get without paying or having access to a university library.
The science on this is spotty and not always well done. It’s getting better, but we have a long way to go. One big problem is the fact collecting data is intrusive, which means the results may not hold true in a non-lab setting. Longevity studies are far better, assuming one controls well for confounding factors.
Paul Byerly recently posted…How Often Does Your Marriage Need Non-Sexual Touch?My Profile

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