How much sex do you need?

July 31, 2010

in Communication, Sexuality

As I have been going through the “What I need from my wife” poll, I’ve seen a number of guys say something like “More sex – at least xx per xx.” The following may help some of you get a better handle on “enough”, and that might help you discuss the issue with your bride. Or, you might just send her this – if it says what you feel and you really want her to hear the whole thing.

I contend that you really can’t know how much is enough unless you have had an amount that felt like enough, and that happened in your current relationship, and fairly recently. I think we can really only feel three things about how much sex we are having – it’s enough, it’s not enough, or it’s too much. How can we know where the dividing line is between any enough and not enough if we have not experienced it? And what does “experience it” mean? Can we base “enough” on how often we masturbated 15 years ago? I don’t think so. Can we base it on the amount of sex we had when we first married? Again, I would say no.

“Enough” is not just about quantity. Granted, if quantity is too low, it’s virtually impossible to think about anything else. However, we really do want far more than just “as much as I can get”. We want, and we need, sex that is emotionally and relationally significant and satisfying. The problem is we have a hard time even experiencing those when we are sex starved. For most men a certain level of “frequency” is necessary before anything else can register. We don’t like that we are that way, but we are. I’ve looked deeply into the biology, and it’s clear to me this is how God made us – it’s how we are.

Enough is a moving target. Sex is not just about releasing the pressure we feel when we don’t have it; sex does so many things for us. Sex makes us feel loved, it makes us want to be intimate, and it causes us to want to bless and protect our bride. Sex also effects our bodies, releasing stress, helping us sleep, and making us feel more balanced. Since sex does so many things for us, the “enough” amount will vary as our life changes. Some guys want more sex when they are in high stress situations, while others want less. If a couple is separated for a time, a man will want more sex to reconnect and feel close again. Sex can be a reassurance after a fight. Sex can also be a desire born out of deeper intimacy – so spending time together may result in a man wanting more because he feels closer and more in love.

Not all sex is the same. A while back, I saw a wife commenting on a secular blog. She had learned that her husband would masturbate nightly if they were not having sex, but did not masturbate at all if she had sex with him two or three times a week. This probably seems odd to most women, but we guys get it. Both acts result in physical release, but intercourse is so much better in so many ways. Sex with our bride satisfies parts of us that can’t be satisfied by masturbation. Masturbation leaves us hungry, and we may try to fill that with more masturbation, but it never works. Similarly, for most men intercourse is better than any other way a wife might give him sexual pleasure. It may or may not be more physically pleasurable, but it does satisfy and reduce our sex drive more deeply.  This is why a man may struggle to “last” when they have intercourse once week and she does something else for him the most other days, but the same man can last as long as he likes when they have intercourse every other day and that’s all he gets. Even though he is climaxing more often in the first situation, it’s not as satisfying, and does not give him as great a release from his sexual tension.

How much do you need? You probably don’t know. You probably also don’t know what you need – how much intercourse verses other forms of sex you need to be really satisfied. It’s okay not to know, and it’s okay to tell your bride you don’t know. Be honest with her. Tell her what you think and feel. Tell her you don’t know how to get from sexually frustrated to sexually satisfied, and then be open to working with her to find what works for you.

10 comments
michael
michael

I'm curious about the too much sex feeling you mentioned. I didn't think there was such a thing.

Mike
Mike

Ivan, I really appreciate what you said about desire vs. drive. It takes guts to admit it, and it's a relief to know I'm not the only one affected that way. I don't think my wife will ever understand or accept this.

Evan
Evan

That has to be closer to the truth of the matter than anything I have ever heard; and explained so well too! Thank you Paul; you did very good.

Brian
Brian

Thanks for the post. My wife saw me begin reading this and before I could read further she asked if she could read it with me. I didn't want to because I feared it might suggest that we men don't "need" sex as much as we think. We read it together and then had a great conversation about fulfilling each other's emotional needs! We talked, shared ideas, hugged and cried together. Sure we men need the physical release more than women, but we also need great, emotionally connecting sex. That's why things like intercourse are more satisfying. And for me, I can get that deep satisfaction other ways too, like when she gives me a great strip tease like what's described on your website and finishes me with or without intercourse, like maybe with oral sex. We then talked about how women feel so connected through conversation, understanding and support. We came away with this thought: She needs deep, emotionally connecting, supporting conversations where she feels like I'm her best friend, I understand her, I admire her and support her; like I need strip teases, intercourse and oral sex - things that show she understands me, admires me and supports me. Thanks for a great post and the great conversation it provoked!

Ivan
Ivan

Awesome post. I especially appreciate the quality vs quantity debate. It helps me to not feel crazy when some one else understands what it is like when the minimum quantity isn't being met. And how having the quality be poor and/or masturbating really don't keep you satisfied for more than 12 hours. Would you speak more on continuing to be loving even when you are not getting enough? My desire to be a good husband doesn't change with whether or not I'm getting enough sex. But it sure does change me motivation. :-( I really hate having my drive to be a good husband and father hinge on whether I'm getting enough. I just know that it does.

Bill
Bill

Very good. When I first saw the title, I thought, "If a guy isn't getting 'enough' he doesn't know what he 'needs' because that's all he's thinking about. Bingo! That's just what you said plus some other good stuff. There used to be two articles on The Marriage Bed (they may still be there) called "Love Me, Love My Sexuality" and "How to Turn On a Sexually Indifferent Husband" (Which I retitled in my mind, "How to be a Fun Wife"). If a woman understood and operated toward her husband according to the first article and regularly did only 20% of the things suggested in the second, sex will go to a very satisfying 24/7 proposition. The husband will go from thinking, "I'd be satisfied if we had sex XX per XX" or wondering why he got married to thinking "I'm the luckiest man in the world!" (Dr. Leman says the same thing in his book, "Sheet Music"). And 'frequency' ceases to be an issue in his mind. I know all of this is true from personal experience. God bless and thanks for a good article. Bill

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@michael - A lot of guys would agree. Thing is they are kind of like someone in a poverty stricken country who has NEVER had a full stomach. If you have never been, full, if you were always hungry, how could you imagine not being hungry? Of course a food analogy does not fully work here, since our stomach becomes too full to comfortably eat more, while there is no part of our body that becomes too full for more sex. However, for men there is a relationship between how often they climax and how good the climax feels. The more often a man climaxes, the weaker it is. This is why it's so powerful when it's been a long time - and why it's very difficult to last very long. On the other side, if sex occurs "too often" climaxes become weak, and reaching climax can become difficult. How much is "too much" varies a great deal from man to man. Age is a factor, but it's not the only factor, and not the primary one as far as I can tell from what I have read and heard. Some twenty five year old guys find anything more than daily a bit much, while some fifty year old guys are good to go twice a day, every day.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Ivan - I understand what you are saying, but I don't have an easy answer. It's kind of like asking how you can care about how clean the house is when you have not eaten in a week! Good topic for a future post.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Mike - I don;'t know about “Love Me, Love My Sexuality” - it was never a main TMB site article, but it does sound like something I'd write. Might be a TGH from before I moved here, or it could have been on the message boards.

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