How much sex do you need?

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.

12 Comments on “How much sex do you need?

  1. 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.

    • @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.

  2. 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.

    • @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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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

    • @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.

      • I can’t find how to be a fun wife.
        Would like to read it.
        I have been very fun and eager and open to anything my husband would like to try.
        I love making love. I’m a very sexual loving wife. My husband is asexual. No matter what i do he is just indifferent.
        I have tried many of your suggestions I have read, but it doesn’t work. To me we have had some pretty great sex and I always expect him to be still thinking about it the next day. I wish it made him want more. It is not the same for him, so it is of no significants. I will now, usually not be physical with him the days following even though I want to, because I think he is thinking I hope she is not wanting it again so soon. I try to just think how nice it was and prepare for a long dry season I know is coming. He try’s to do better, he will commit to once a week, but it never last more than a month or maybe two.
        It’s been about a month now and I feel he resents me for wanting sex. He think he feels bad its been so long for me because he knows how much I need him. He screamed a whole paragraph at me the other day and it felt like I was getting kicked while I was down. He was making such a mean face too. I just stood there quietly looking into his eyes. Our freezer had kicked a breaker. I pushed the little reset button and it came back on. I told him about it and he went out to our 3car garage and started to struggle to make a path to get over to the panel, I knew he was tired and it was ok now and back on. So I went and said hey don’t worry about it, it’s on, you don’t have to do anything. He came unglued on me. Yelling a whole paragraph you don’t tell me what to do and what not to do or where to go or not to go etc..,,I have never told him not to go anywhere. What he said doesn’t make sense.
        He has really apologized since. He insisted on rubbing my feet till I went to sleep.
        He is a very good man, even though that’s not good to be yelling at your wife of course. I have said I think it would be good to read your site, it may help him be more aware and also thankful of having a wife that loves sex and open minded. He says it makes him feel bad, and doesn’t like reading it, since that’s not how he feels .
        I’ve suggested keeping a calendar on his nightstand to remind him of how long it’s been. When we make love to make notes on that day. Of how we made love and if we both climaxed . These were suggestions when he was talking and asking for my advice. I think these actions would help you think of sex, if you weren’t already. He just doesn’t do them. I am so frustrated. I don’t care about doing much away from home. I feel like we are broken.
        Married 29 years. We waited to have sex till after marriage. I just took a trip with my mom to Europe for a month. I was so looking forward to seeing my husband and making love when I got back. It didn’t happen for weeks. It is so strange. He did do a lot of chores around the house and other things for me. He can get an errection and orgasm no problem. He is not cheating does not care about porn.
        It seems unbearable at times. But I have no choice. I try not to think about him sexually, knowing he doesn’t care for it makes sexual thoughts seem so selfish. I try not masterbating to diminish the desire, it of course doesn’t work. I wish I knew what to do. At this point I know he isn’t going to change. I just have to learn to live with it. He gets aggravated when I tell him how it makes me feel so rejected. He shows me in other ways he loves me. I know he is and has always been an asexual romantic. He loves me, he loves to hug and snuggle. Not kiss, he likes little pecks. He likes spending his time with me, he doesn’t care about hanging with the guys, although he has great life long friends. He is an awesome father and grandfather any child would love to have.
        None but one counselor of about 4 visits know his secret. Everyone loves and respects him. I would not want to change that. Just wish I knew how to except this and how to deal with my sexual and intimacy desires and needs alone and to somehow find joy again. I’m a very happy person by nature, I love to laugh.
        I find myself repeating the serenity prayer.
        God help me accept the things I can not change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
        Being married to an asexual is a very lonely road, you can feel alone even when your spouse is there. Nothing I do or say or wear or vacations will change it. It’s his sexual orientation.
        May God give me wisdom.

        • @Frustrated wife – I don’t have anything to offer you. He holds all the cards. We know one couple where the wife is asexual and has made a concerted effort to provide her husband with what she understands he needs. They both report she does a good job of it, but it must be an ongoing struggle for her and she is the exception.
          You have our prayers.

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