Marriage and Sex – Balancing Frequency and Quality

Framing the issues:

Frequency, of course, references the number of times we make love during a period of time (weekly, monthly, etc.). There is, of course, the common concern of whether or not we’re ‘doing it’ regularly enough. The national average for married couple having sex weekly is about 1.9 to 2.6 by most polls. That’s about twice a week.

However, even if you’re doing twice per week, this may be too much for one of you and not enough for the other. So the challenge is to find a balance that satisfies mismatched sex drives

Quality, of course, is the perceived level of satisfaction achieved on average from what is shared prior, during, and after sexual intimacy. Again, there is a common concern…how do I get what I need while providing my spouse with what they need. National polls routinely prove that married couples are more satisfied with the quality of their lovemaking by a substantial margin. Length of time married and the overall health of the relationship seem to be critical factors among those polled.

However, many marriages see quality sacrificed for quantity or experience a lack of effort on the part of one or both spouses. So the challenge is to find a level of investment each can make that will create an acceptable level of satisfaction. What to do…what to do?

Approaching Issue Resolution:

Our recommendation are often to have us re-evaluate our assumptions of what frequency and quality are and how they relate to our situations. If we are having sex every night, over time, we may become dulled to the essential parts of quality sexual intercourse…anticipation and unpredictability. Arousal only gets us so far. Vaginal wetness and penile erection are physical responses to mental stimuli (for the most part). However, as with your favorite meal, one may tire of it eventually. The desire will return but it may be good to take breaks in between to re-establish appreciation. This is frequency negatively impacting quality.

If we are expecting 30 minutes of foreplay each time we make love OR if it takes a substantial amount of time to become ‘prepared’ for lovemaking, the events can be perceived as a chore for either spouse. Moreover, spouses may internalize the need for so much preparation (efforts to get the other aroused or ready) as being a lack of attraction. Men are susceptible to seeing their wives not being able to get ‘wet’ easily as not ‘wanting’ them. This may create a vicious cycle wherein husbands turn to an active fantasy life to ‘stroke’ their own egos and sustain sexual arousal. This also works in the reverse where wives see their husband’s lack of initiation as a rejection of them and shutdown emotionally and become guarded making it more difficult to accept their initiation of sex when offered. This may be the pursuit of quality impacting frequency.

In between the above scenarios, there are a number of different situations that most closely resemble our individual situations. Here are some questions to ponder for the purpose of discussing how to deal with issues of frequency (wanting it more or less often) and quality (wanting to emotionally connect better and share more deeply and creatively prior, during, and after sex):

1. How often would you prefer sex?

2. Whose frequency is not being satisfied? Why do you think that’s the case?

3. What is quality sex for you? What (sexual behavior or activity) do you want to happen more often than not?

4. How long should lovemaking last? How long does it last?

5. What are some of the barriers to you getting what you want or need?

6. What are some strategies for getting what you want or need that you’ve tried?

These are just a few of many questions we can ask each other and ourselves. Then, think of what our spouses might say if asked them.

How do we bridge the differences? How do we work toward mutual satisfaction? We talk. We negotiate. Ultimately, each sacrifices for the other. And we do these things from an abiding place of love, respect and a mutual desire to see the other pleased!

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