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How Often Do Married Couples Have Sex?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 20, 2021

It may not be a good idea to compare your sex life to that of other couples. But it is interesting to look at what statistics say about this issue. You may think that you're having sex fewer times than your peers, but scientific studies may prove you wrong. For example, a recent study shows that American couples are having less sex than they did a decade ago. 

‌It’s also worth noting that there is no perfect answer to the question.

Average Number of Times Couples Have Sex Per Week

‌Research carried out by the General Social Survey shows the following:‌

  • 7% of American adults had sex once or twice in the last year
  • 10% did not have sex in the past year
  • 19% had sex twice or thrice per month
  • 17% had sex once a month
  • 5% had sex four or more times a week
  • 16% had sex twice or thrice per week
  • 25% had sex weekly

‌Another study published in 2019 found that about 47% of married couples have sex less than once a week.‌

‌The frequency of sex is said to be closely linked to ahappy marriage. But research shows that married people who have more sex weekly are no happier than those who have less of it. This is according to a study involving 30,000 people.‌

‌You’re probably within the normal range. If you’re happy with the number of times you have sex in your marriage, that’s the right amount of sex for you. Research shows that pushing sex frequency to more than once a week may decrease your desire for and enjoyment of sex. This is to say that quality is as vital as quantity.

Married Sex and Satisfaction

Satisfaction and interpersonal connection are more important in marriage than the frequency of sexual intimacy. There is also a strong connection between well-being, positive emotions, and sex. ‌

‌Mutual respect is a huge contributor to sexual satisfaction. Respondents in research studies reported that they are looking for the following for an improved sex life: ‌

  • More quality time with their partner
  • ‌More love and romance
  • ‌Less stress ‌‌

Strive to be a better communicator. The journey of making your sex life better begins with ensuring open communication with your partner. One study ties sexual communication with a better sexual experience and satisfaction. For example, you're less likely to fake an orgasm if you have open talks about sex with your partner.‌

Research also shows that the more you fake orgasms, the less likely you are to talk about sex with your partner. This is because you will feel embarrassed and choose not to talk about it. Some reasons for this include not wanting to hurt your partner's emotions or not feeling comfortable being explicit.

Is Your Marriage in Trouble?

‌When you stop having sex in marriage, your relationship becomes vulnerable to detachment, anger, infidelity, and ultimately, divorce. Lack of frequent sex in marriage can be due to many reasons, including the following:‌

  • Age
  • Natural libido levels
  • Each partner’s health status
  • The overall quality of the relationship

‌As such, there's no standard scale to determine how often you should have sex in your marriage. Having sex at least once a week is ideal to keep the marriage intact. But having sex less than ten times a year is enough reason to qualify a marriage as a sexless one. Over time, it may lead to divorce due to dissatisfaction.‌

It’s worth noting that lack of sex doesn’t always imply a failed or dysfunctional marriage. Sexual intimacy is how you express your love and desire for your partner. Not having sex doesn't necessarily end in divorce. All the same, it is something that you should strive to handle before things get out of hand. ‌‌

Sex can easily fall to the bottom of the to-do list for most people. Yet it is the glue that keeps them together. Without it, you might be headed to the "good friends" zone at best or "bickering housemates" at worst.

Syncing Your Sex Drives

‌Many factors must fall into place for sex to become something you desire and want to do often. For most couples, a difference of opinion is usually the main problem affecting the frequency of sex in their marriage. The problem is usually not about sex but about getting to the act itself.

Your willingness for sex at any given time may not always match up to your partner’s. The secret is to negotiate how many times per week works for both of you. Just like many other areas in marriage, sex and its frequency also require compromise. But studies show that a weekly frequency is good enough to keep your marriage happy.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Archives of Sexual Behavior: “Declines in Sexual Frequency among American Adults, 1989-2014,” “Women’s Sexual Satisfaction, Communication, and Reasons for (No Longer) Faking Orgasm: Findings from a U.S. Probability Sample.”

GSS Topical Report: “American Sexual Behavior: Trends, Socio-Demographic Differences, and Risk Behavior.”

Indian Journal of Psychiatry: “SEXUAL BEHAVIOR AND DYSFUNCTION IN DIVORCE SEEKING COUPLES.”

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization: “Does Increased Sexual Frequency Enhance Happiness?”

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships: “The associations of intimacy and sexuality in daily life: Temporal dynamics and gender effects within romantic relationships.”

Journal of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Bosnia and Herzegovina: “A Review of Affecting Factors on Sexual Satisfaction in Women.”

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin: “More Than Just Sex: Affection Mediates the Association Between Sexual Activity and Well-Being.”

Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences: “Inspecting the Relationship between Sexual Satisfaction and Marital Problems of Divorce-asking Women in Sanandaj City Family Courts.”

‌Social Psychological and Personality Science: “Sexual Frequency Predicts Greater Well-Being, But More is Not Always Better.”

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: How Often Should Married Couples Have Sex?”

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