Frequency – facts, figures, distortions and lies

Surely, you have seen reports saying something like “the average married couple has sex X numbers of times a year”. If you and your bride are doing it more often, you feel good, if you are doing it less you feel bad, right? If you are under the average and want more, the report is “proof” you should be having more. If you are over the average and want, more you probably ignore the report. If you want less sex, or want no more than you are having, and the report says you rate is normal or high, then it is “proof” your spouse should back off, right?

Marraige warning gauge  © Fabian Schmidt |

Personally, I find the entire concept deeply flawed. Does the average of what people do mean anything useful? Does it somehow tell us what we should be doing?

Imagine if you decided to determine the number of calories needed to be healthy by taking a survey on how many calories people ate! If you took the survey in the USofA you would come up with an answer sure to make you fat. If you took that survey in some poor countries, your average would be barely enough calories to avoid dying of starvation. Even if you took the average of people who are their ideal weight, the average would not be useful as we all have different caloric needs. A large man who works heavy manual labour eight hours a day needs two or three times the calories of a much smaller man who sits at a desk.

Sex is the same way. Many couples have very little to no sex, and a few have a great deal of sex. There are also differences of desire/need – some men struggle to do more than twice a week, while others are miserable if they do not have sex twice as often.

On the issue of too little sex, the surveys say for married couples under 60 about 5% have no sex at all, 15% have sex 1-10 times a year, and 15% have sex 11-20 times a year. That means 35% of married couples are having sex less than twice a month! Imagine how that third of the population is lowering the average frequency numbers.

The high-end is less dramatic. For married couples age 25-39 just less than 6% have sex more than three times a week. In the 18-24 year old category, it’s 20%, while for older couples it’s more like 1%.

If you eliminate the low and high frequency couples, the average for a couple in their 30’s is 102 times a year – about twice a week – and almost 50% higher than the average for all couples in their age range. If you want a reasonable average, there you have it. Frankly, I still think it is a useless number. Aside from the number of men who want more sex (at least half of married men) and the number of married women who want more sex (15% to 30% depending on the study) several studies of couples have found that in some marriages both husband and wife want more sex.

My conclusion is we live in an oversexed society full of undersexed marriages. Sexual frustration is high for men and women for a growing number of reasons. I cannot give you a magic frequency number, but I do know all other things being equal, the more sex a couple has the happier they both are, the stronger their marriage is, and the less likely they are to end up divorced.

If you or your spouse is sexually dissatisfied, it should be a loud warning bell something is wrong in your marriage. I realise sex is sometimes a symptom rather than the actual problem, but a lack of sex is an indication something is wrong. Couples, or spouses, who ignore this, are ignoring a warning their marriage is in trouble.

Bottom line: It’s not just sex, it’s an indication of the overall health of your marriage. Ignore it at your own peril.

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Joe Beam’s Blog Husband Not Interested In Making Love
The Kinsey Institute – Sexuality Information Links: Frequency of sex
Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study PDF
When Baby Makes Three

4 Comments on “Frequency – facts, figures, distortions and lies

  1. Those stats at the Kinsey sight were interesting. For a long time, my husband and I were with the majority with only having sex about once a week (or less) and honestly, we did have a good marriage. We just never made an effort during the week because of having to get up early in the morning. So, I can see why so many couples are only engaging once a week or so. A while ago though, I ran across an article that claimed that men have a physical need for release every 3 days. I decided to start making that happen. Now we have sex 3-4 times a week (3 is a slow week) and sex has never been better. Even our marriage seems better.. we are much more patient with each other, laugh more, communicate better, and are more in sync with our parenting. Who knew that such a simple change would make such an impact on our marriage!? I don’t think couples really know the positive effects of frequent lovemaking. I know I didn’t.

    • workinprogress – Good sex seems to act like a lubricant for the relationship in general – it helps with the natural friction and keeps things from overheating. In some marriages that means far fewer fights, while in others it means fewer minor irritations. Both of those are good things.

      And then there are the health benefits – longer life, healthier life, and looking younger!

  2. James says, “Faith without works is dead.”

    I say, “Marriage without sex is dead.”

    I realize that sometimes sex is not possible such as if one partner is a quadriplegic but generally it’s true.

    Now, I’m going to raise the bar. Should we be talking about sex or should we be talking about making love? If we had sex every day but my wife’s brain is AWOL, it still wouldn’t be satisfying.

    You think you are going on a trip to San Francisco and in the middle of it your wife says, “You go on. I’ll just get off of the train here at Omaha.” That’s not a fun vacation.

    Now say you haven’t had sex for six weeks and you’ve suffered all of the related discomfort cycle two or three times and then she pulls that stunt. That’s an order of magnitude less satisfying.

    There is way more to the problem than frequency.

    Ask all those women who are holding out on their husbands how they like being married to a grumpy old bear. And that’s beside the fact that they are defrauding their mates according to the Bible. They have what they want (a poor sap who pays the bills and they don’t have to put out). I wonder how it’s working out for them.

    Do you really think they don’t know why there’s no joy and love around the house?

  3. Ol’ Will – I have also said that marriage without sex is dead, or at least headed for dead.

    And, I agree with you that frequency of “sex” is not the real issue. However it is often the battle point, and sometimes if the couple starts to have more it also becomes better. Not always, but often.

    I agree with you on her needing to be involved. The potential problem is when the husband defines what her being involved should look like without having any understanding of who she is or how she functions. Sometimes, for some women, enjoying his enjoying sex is they best they have. If she offers that and he rejects it, he is the problem, not her.

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