Sex - how many times/month is typical for married couples?
May 27, 2009 8:36 PM   Subscribe

For couples married around 5 years - how many times a month do you have sex?

Our average is around 3 times a month, I'd like to see us increase that to 5. (Let's not focus on that part; there are health issues involved.) We don't have kids, we're 32 years old, married 7 years. My wife tells me that her work friends in similar situations say that sex 2-3 times a month is average / normal for them.

I'd like a larger sample set than a few work friends. For (satisfied) partners in a similar situation, how many times a month do you do it? (I'm concerned that my desire for 5/month is high.)

Thanks in advance.
posted by blahtsk to Human Relations (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
3 times a month is fairly normal, but 5 isn't exactly abnormal. When it comes to LTR's, you just go through seasons. What's most important is that you're communicating about it, and it sounds like you are.

If your wife knows there is a quota you'd like to fulfill, then I doubt that sounds very romantic to her. Think about it -- she knows that you are aiming for 5 times a month, so when you initiate sex, one of the first things that's going to flash through her mind, regardless of how into it she is, is "okay, that's three -- two more to go." Setting goals is reasonable, but by assigning a number, you've just added yourself to her list of chores.
posted by hermitosis at 8:46 PM on May 27, 2009 [11 favorites]

Oh, and to more directly answer your question, there have been seasons where 2x a month has kept us going, and others where 10x doesn't seem out of line. Sometimes when we talk about sex, we end up agreeing that we'd like to start having more of it for a while, for whatever reason. And then sometimes we follow through, and sometimes we don't.
posted by hermitosis at 8:49 PM on May 27, 2009

Add extra special nights focused around her without expecting sex.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:52 PM on May 27, 2009 [6 favorites]

This is kind of dangerous territory. Different answers to this question will vary GREATLY depending on many, many, many factors. I encourage you not to take any responses too seriously, and to remember that they have absolutely nothing to do with you or your marriage.
posted by so_gracefully at 8:56 PM on May 27, 2009 [7 favorites]

Arg, this is too personal, I long for anonymous comments, but married 20 years this August, and it's about 4 times a month, and our sex life is great, overall. I pretty sure he'd like it a bit more, I'd like it a bit more, but stuff gets in the way, YKWIM?

Quality is definitely more important for us than than quantity, as a bad time tends to make us avoid each other for a short while, while an especially good time makes us grin at each other when we think no one is looking.

I don't think your desire for 5x a month is high, but it seems weird to me to focus on the number. I want my partner to focus on me first when it comes to sex, not something outside the two of us, like the number. Maybe you could figure out what the two of you are doing right, together, and agree to try more of that, without too many expectations.
posted by zinfandel at 9:02 PM on May 27, 2009

Googling phrases like "average intercourse for married couples" pulls in a lot of results, some with footnotes, though all relying on self-reporting, which has its flaws for data collection. For example, according to this book, the average early in a marriage is about 3 times per week, and drops over time. (Remember, though, that these averages get expressed in fairly loose ways, with a lot open to interpretation -- e.g. Does oral count? And, do your averages take into account weeks off for menstruation, or busy travel schedules?)

The central question really shouldn't be how much sex other people are having -- it is about how much sex you and your partner want to have. There are a lot of ways to move towards having more sex in a relationship, but setting monthly quotas is not one of them.

And the real truth here is that the number is going to vary tremendously -- the statistical average of sexy times isn't going to tell you anything about the person sitting next to you on the bus. This link mentions a range in one study from one a month to forty-five a month, for example, and there are probably people for whom once/month is a distant dream, and others for whom 45/month is terribly inadequate. Different strokes, different folks, etc.

Finally, you'd want to be sure that, if you must make these comparisons, you are comparing yourself to people in similar situations. There's potentially a huge difference between a couple in their mid-twenties, rich, childless, and healthy, and another couple who are older, juggling four small children, grappling with unemployment and health issues.
posted by Forktine at 9:06 PM on May 27, 2009

Wow. 7 year relationship here, 52yo & 2-3 times a week. Often times (many) more, rarely less. I'd say discard all advice here & consult your doctor since "there are health issues involved."
posted by torquemaniac at 9:24 PM on May 27, 2009

If you're looking for statistical evidence for a research paper, etc, then go here.

If you're looking for ammunition to convince your spouse to sleep with you more often, you're asking all of the wrong people. How often I have sex, or your coworkers have sex, or billions of humans on the plant have sex is completely totally and impossibly irrelevant to you and your wife.

It sounds like you'd like to have it more often than she does. If that's the case you need to talk about this with her, and her with you. You need to talk about it openly, without accusations or evidence gleaned from the internet or your polled from your coworkers sex practices. (Ew.)

At least that's what most healthy couples who have been married for around five years do.

But I'm way off base and you're just looking for numbers, then hit that link up top.
posted by Ookseer at 9:34 PM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I do not recommend using "everybody else is doing it" as an argument to cajole your spouse into putting out more often. Instead, I'd tell your wife that you'd like to be more intimate with her, because you love her and want to be with her in that way. Talk about your own needs and desires rather than what works for other couples. Work with her to find arrangements that are right for both of you.

But if you really want numbers, googling "average marital sex frequency" reveals the following fun facts:

-American married couples in a 2001 survey had sex an average of 98 times per year
-Another study, conducted in 1994, indicated that American married couples averaged 7 times per month, about the same.
-A 1990 study indicated a sexual frequency for married couples of 2-3 times a week, also within the same range as later findings.
-Cohabitating people have more sex than married people
-Single people have the least sex
-The overall average, for all American adults, is 58 sexual encounters per year, or about one per week
-People have sex at fairly consistent frequency throughout their 20s and early 30s. The average drops about 20% per decade through age 64. Americans aged 65-74 experience another 60% drop, followed by another 50% for those over 75.
-Groups statistically correlated with a higher rate of sexual activity include, 25-year olds, the high-school educated, married people, extremely left- or right-leaning people, Catholics, jazz fans, people who earn $10,000 a year, and those who smoke and drink regularly.
posted by decathecting at 9:35 PM on May 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

keep in mind people who have more sex are going to feel more comfortable sharing that, since the general social judgment is that more is better, i.e., no one will feel ashamed that they have too much sex, but some people may feel embarrassed if they think they might have too little sex. So you might have trouble getting a solid sample.

The cliche is often once a week for married couples, but I know people who still have sex all the time, and others who rarely do at all. A lot depends on the libidos / mutual attraction of the involved parties, and also on schedules, how busy people are, and so on. SOme people find sex more important than others. Some people have quickie sex while others don't want to get into it unless it's gonna last. Some people like to cuddle a lot and just have sex now and then; for others, any cuddling is a lead-in to full intercourse.

Basically, as others have said, it isn't about where you guys stand relative to others; it's about how your needs match. If she is happy having sex 3 times a month (or even less? how often does she initiate? how into it does she seem?) but you are not satisfied, you have to try to work out how you can get her interested or excited in increasing intimacy.
posted by mdn at 9:45 PM on May 27, 2009

My wife and I have been very happily married 15+ years (16 in August). I'm 46, she's 40. We have two kids, ages 4 and 8. At the beginning of our marriage we made love around three times per week. Over the years the frequency has varied between one and three times per week, but it has been very consistent, and we've always made love at least once per week, with exceptions in the final trimester of her pregnancies and, obviously, following childbirth. Recently, we're back to three times per week, and we seem pretty happy with this frequency.

As others have said, there is no "right" answer here, except that whatever the number of times per week or per month, it has to work for both of you. Do keep an open channel of communications about this, and search for alternatives if one of you is tired or distracted. Some nights, my wife is "my lovely assistant," and other nights, I'm her helper. Happy naked time is happy naked time; it's all good.
posted by plowhand at 10:16 PM on May 27, 2009

It's already been said, I don't think any answer you'll get will help any plan you may have. normal is what normal does.
posted by wilful at 10:54 PM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Heck, we're young people not even married yet and we're looking at once/week or a bit less (depending on outside factors). 3-4 a month, I'd say. But of course there's cuddling and fun at other times, and it depends on what you count as "sex", and all that. I'm with plowhand on happy naked time being happy naked time, personally.
posted by Lady Li at 11:28 PM on May 27, 2009

If your wife wants to have sex x times a month and you want it x+y times a month, why not have sex x times with your wife and y times outside the marriage? That way everybody is happy.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:46 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

You also might want to think about the type of sex you're having, rather than just the frequency. There's a vast gap between a quickie or oral, on the one hand, and a lengthy tete-a-tete on the other, with lingerie, toys, extended foreplay, role-playing, light bondage and elaborate positions. The former might consume--what?--ten minutes at most. For the latter, several hours might be involved in prep time, the actual act and bathing together afterword (and cleaning and stowing the toys). So, I'd be willing to bet that most couples average less than once a week for the extended sessions, if that.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:42 AM on May 28, 2009

The best relationship decision i've ever made with a relationship partner was to have daily sex. Seriously. No biggie if logistics don't allow, but in our case logistics allowed the crushing majority of days.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 3:59 AM on May 28, 2009

We've been married 5 years, nearly. Before baby, it was about 5X/week. Since baby (well, since baby was 2 months old) it's been about 2X/week.
posted by gaspode at 4:04 AM on May 28, 2009

Your wife is saying that 'right now' you're being too sexually demanding for her. She's using the defense of "my friends do it as much as I want" as confirmation bias. Going to metafilter to find a different confirmation bias won't get you the sex you want.
posted by filmgeek at 5:27 AM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

If your wife wants to have sex x times a month and you want it x+y times a month, why not have sex x times with your wife and y times outside the marriage? That way everybody is happy.

I'm guessing his WIFE wouldn't be happy with this! And more than likely, he wouldn't either if he loves her and is committed to her. This is silly nonsense. Unless this is an open marriage (and I'm guessing it is not or he probably wouldn't be asking the question) this option is more than likely off the table.
posted by ejazen at 5:57 AM on May 28, 2009

This is silly nonsense.

Says you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:55 AM on May 28, 2009

Our average is around 3 times a month, I'd like to see us increase that to 5. (Let's not focus on that part; there are health issues involved.)

Why not focus on that part? It seems like health issues would be pretty significant.

But, yeah, a random sample of Mefites is not going to help you any. I can regurgitate the typical sex therapy advice: make date nights for sex, have sex at different times of the day, redefine sex so that it's not just penis-in-vagina intercourse. But i think that what's really important to figure out is why your wife doesn't want to have sex. If there are unresolved health issues, that's pretty significant, and surveying internet people isn't going to really get you anywhere.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:26 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

The best relationship decision i've ever made with a relationship partner was to have daily sex. Seriously. No biggie if logistics don't allow, but in our case logistics allowed the crushing majority of days.
We've been married 5 years, lived together for 2 before that, no kids. I'm 45, she's a bit younger.

If I was having sex 5 times a month, I'd be pretty miserable. 5 times a week is more the norm, and not just quickies, either; our "sessions" last an hour or so, with foreplay, often some sort of battery-powered device, and mutual enjoyment. The goal is every night, and why not? We both enjoy it, it makes us happy, we're sad when we don't have sex, so what's with this rationing of pleasure? Are you folks really that busy? I'd definitely rather miss another episode of So You Think You Can Dance with the Stars for one more orgasm in my life.
posted by pupsocket at 7:46 AM on May 28, 2009

This is silly nonsense.

Says you.

I mean that this is silly nonsense in the context of this question. I'm all for open relationships if both partners want that. But, in response to a question summed up as "I'm concerned that my desire for sex is too high", saying that he should start having sex with other people outside of his marriage and "That way everybody is happy" IS silly nonsense.
posted by ejazen at 8:17 AM on May 28, 2009

It sounds to me like each of you is attempting to use data from other relationships to argue the other into more (or present amounts of) sex.

Bad idea. You should just be asking HER. And if she mentions other people, stop her and say, "Yes, but how do YOU feel? Let's not discuss any relationships but ours."

There's nothing less sexy than arguing/guilting someone into fulfilling your desires.
posted by jefficator at 8:17 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

There's a key element here that everyone seems to be missing. Your wife thinks you're already having more sex than other people she knows, so an effort on your part to increase the frequency may feel like unfair pressure to her. You're also concerned you're being unreasonable. I think this is the real issue, beyond any actual numbers. Why do you feel unreasonable asking for more sex? Why does she feel put off by that? Does she feel unappreciated or caught off-guard by the request (as in, "haven't I been doing enough already?") If you've been having sex at the same frequency for awhile, why are you now asking for more? I'm not saying either of you are right or wrong, but in my opinion, these are the real questions you need to ask.

And for the record, anywhere from 3 - 12 times/month here, depending on a wide variety of factors such as health, work stress, family issues, etc.
posted by desjardins at 8:41 AM on May 28, 2009

Yeah, it's not about how often others do it; it's about how to have a sex life that is mutually agreed-on, mutually satisfying. Talk to the woman you love, tell her you love her and desire her, and want to have just a bit more sex than you currently have. Tell her how much she turns you on, how difficult it is to resist her, and how lovemaking deepens the love and passion you feel for her. In my experience, the best way to have more sex is to seduce the partner, and to have great sex. And let's hope "the woman you love" is your wife.
posted by theora55 at 9:50 AM on May 28, 2009

Quantity...varies. Quality..varies. What I'd like is more sex initiated by my wife. I'd take 2-3 times a month if 1-2 of those times were initiated by her. 10x/mo. would get boring for me if I had to start it every time.

posted by teg4rvn at 9:58 AM on May 28, 2009

Why Your Wife Won't Have Sex With You
I knew even before I got married that I wouldn't be able to keep up the "schedule" of sex my husband and I had established during our courtship, and once I even warned him that it was going to have to slow down. But I think that went in one ear and out the other at supersonic speed, touching nothing in between.

Sure enough, not long after we got married sex became a battleground for us, and we struggled with the problem like two fish flopping around next to each other in the bottom of an open boat: gasping for a natural breath and injuring ourselves with every pointless, ineffectual spasm.

To me it seemed simple: he wanted me to be his sexual appliance, a handy-dandy love machine that could be switched on and off at his command. I felt no desire, and I didn't want to "submit" to being handled and penetrated when I wasn't in the mood. If he really loved me, this sex thing, this "merely physical" part of our lives, wouldn't be such a big freakin' deal. And his pissy, furious responses to my refusals only made me more sure that he didn't really love me. He just wanted to use my vagina.

To him it seemed simple, too. If I loved him -- as I consistently claimed -- why didn't I want to make love?

These things always look absolutely nuts in retrospect. You wonder how you managed to get through that crazy period in your life, how you could have been so wrong, how you could have set yourselves up in such a no-win situation. It looked hopeless at the time, a total impasse. Yet we succeeded in overcoming it, and one of the things I discovered in the five or six years since I started talking about our sexual renaissance in public is that this kind of sexual recovery is not as rare as I imagined. Being a writer by trade and a blabbermouth by inclination, a blog like this was inevitable.
posted by heatherann at 10:46 AM on May 28, 2009

[few comments removed - this is getting a bit far afield and into sort of fighty territory, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:25 PM on May 28, 2009

Thanks for all the comments. My wife and I are dearest friends, and know everything about each other. She would laugh at me if I tried any sort of confirmation bias from the Internet on her (in an endearing way, not in a mean way). I more wanted to poll the hive mind and see if my desires were normal for my age / situation, and it sounds like there really is no average. However, I got a lot from reading about all your different experiences and feelings, so, thanks again. And thanks to those who wrote me in private. This site is one of my favorite and most treasured places on the Internet.
posted by blahtsk at 12:04 PM on May 30, 2009

You mean just with each other, right? 5 sounds about right.
posted by Lukenlogs at 10:15 PM on June 7, 2009

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