This post is part one of the series: Improving Intimacy
Involved in almost any marriage advice is the word “comprise.” It’s such a key component in a happy marriage. However, there are many, many issues where it is almost impossible to compromise. For instance, when one of you wants a child and the other does not. You’re not King Solomon, you can’t exactly have a half child. Or when one of you wants to move and one of you does not. Pretty hard to do that half way as well.
Thankfully, the frequency with which you have sex is not one of those issues. It’s totally compromisable. And actually, I can think of very few issues where such a numerical compromise is possible. For instance, if you want sex everyday and your spouse wants it once a week, then you could both compromise and meet at 3.5 times a week (I’ll leave the definition of .5 up to you . . .).
Point being, communicate. Talk it out. If this is a problemed area, really try to come to a plan where you can both be happy.
And you may be surprised at what happens when you start to sacrifice for your spouse. The benefits of having a happy spouse could very well outweigh the personal sacrifice you had to make to reach the compromise. (and you might discover that you actually like having sex! more on this later this week . . .)
Anyway, about a month ago, I asked you all to address how you’ve worked out disagreements about the frequency with which you have sex. And your responses were SO great!! Thank you to each and every one of you who responded!! I knew you guys were much smarter than I. (So sorry if I didn’t include your response – this post was getting a little long and some of the answers were similar. Even if I didn’t include it- I appreciated it!)
So without further adieu, here are your responses to the question,
“How have you worked out any disagreements you have about how often you have sex?”
“We stayed abstinent until we got married, so after we said “I do” we made an agreement to have sex every.single.day. Well, unfortunately, life got in the way here and there, and some days we wouldn’t do it. We both started to feel like failures and like our sex life wasn’t what we had “agreed on” or “what it should be.” When we realized how much pressure that “deal” had put on us, we decided to just do it when we wanted to do it.
And guess what?… we started doing it everyday. We realized that the overarching expectation that we set up for ourselves was actually causing tension and a sense of duty, instead of a sense of natural intimacy. Almost three years later, though there are typical ebbs and flows, we have a pretty strong average. It sounds lame, but we actually started just making it a habit. Like brushing our teeth before bed, we also have sex before shutting out the lights.
Never again will we lay out some weird rule or expectation… instead, we realize there will be dry spells, and not so dry spells. The point (for us) is to make it a priority instead of an expectation… and I’d say sex is a pretty great priority!”
“As with all things in marriage there is a lot of compromising going on. Even when it comes to how often to have sex. As we get older it can be even more challenging as our sex drives are on two different levels. Mine us in overdrive while his is slowing down. So communication is the key. You have to talk about it. My husband and I are in our 40’s and been married for 18yrs. My husband and I at this point in our relationship have compromised to sex on the weekends. He is tired during the week and just wants to come home and relax. He feels he doesn’t have the physical or emotional energy after being at work all day to really want or enjoy sex. The weekends he feels he is able to channel his physical and emotional feelings towards me, since he doesn’t have the pressure of work on him. But this comes with the knowledge that we just don’t automatically get sex because its the weekend. We have to both “woo” each other. (Flirting) I need to make him feel wanted and he does the same for me. We even make a game of it and flirt all week long in anticipation of the weekend. Sometimes the flirting is overwhelming and we don’t stick to weekend only sex. 😉 But that’s just a bonus. Do we have sex most weekends yes, but there are times where life just gets in the way (3 kids) and it doesn’t happen or we just don’t feel like it.”
1. It’s not super sexy but I think it’s totally ok to schedule sex. Sundays and Wednesdays are sexy nights around here. It helps me get into the mindset if I know ahead of time and it helps my husband remember to back away from his work and come to bed at a decent hour. We don’t necessarily ONLY do it on Wednesdays and Sundays but it’s nice to know we will at LEAST be getting it in (ha) twice a week.
2. Try to figure out WHY you don’t want sex as often as your partner. Warning: novel ahead.
I think women often have lower sex drives and sometimes that’s a physical issue (see a doctor if it’s really low! Your hormones or thyroid could be wonky!) but more often than not it’s related to your mind. I have to remind my logical engineer husband often that I need emotional validation in order to feel that connection that makes me WANT to take my pants off. I need to be told that I’m beautiful and that he loves me. I need non-sexual contact throughout the day (a hug in the hall, hand-holding while we Netflix). I need him to sweep after dinner and manage the kids’ crazy a little at bedtime so I can mentally reset myself from mom-mode to wife-mode. It’s hard for him to remember because all he needs is some visible cleavage (or even the MENTION of cleavage) and he’s ready to roll but that’s why communication is so important. I also need to make sure I’m focusing on the things that he IS doing right (he gave me a back rub after dinner!) rather than dwelling on the things that he ISN’T doing the way I’d like (he forgot to take out the garbage! AGAIN!).
In my talks with other women, some aren’t as excited about having sex more frequently because it’s not super enjoyable for them. For LDS women in particular our husbands aren’t exactly experienced in the bedroom and neither are we, so it’s not like we have the ability to teach them. Years go by and we have meh sex and then we wonder why we aren’t really into it. You deserve good sex! Have a conversation NOT in the heat of the moment about the fact that you need more foreplay (been there!) or that you need to feel more loved OUTSIDE the bedroom in order to get that loving feeling INSIDE the bedroom (see above). Figure out what you need and then talk it out.
Relatedly, don’t be afraid to research how to make sex better. I think that “good girls” feel like they shouldn’t be Googling things like “how to have an orgasm” but you have this super valuable tool (online resources) at your finger tips- USE IT. The internet is 90% sex anyway, it might as well benefit your sex life. One of the best perks though is that reading about sexy things can do wonders for your libido and get you excited to get in there and start trying stuff.
3. Lastly, patience, kindness, and love are the most important things when working out disagreements about sex. Sometimes there are factors that just completely screw with your sex life- pregnancy and nursing, work and children that require ALL your energy, physiological factors. Hopefully these things are NOT forever though. Sometimes all you can do is shrug and say, “This too shall pass and then we will have more sex.” I think that’s totally fine, as long as when it actually DOES pass you don’t let inertia keep you in your current pattern. When you stop nursing, go buy new lingerie. When you finally get off that awful work shift come home with flowers, a bottle of something fancy, and some good lube to kick off your new sex life. When your doctor finally nails your medication and you start to feel the tingles again, give your spouse bedroom eyes and let them know they’re in for a fun night. Just because NOW isn’t a good time for sex doesn’t mean it will always be that way!”
“Husband here. I consider myself the luckiest man in the world. My wife and I get busy every other night. It makes me feel loved and appreciated. In turn, it makes me want to be a better husband, a better listener, more devoted, more thoughtful, quicker to serve. Once we figured out this virtuous cycle, high frequency was the obvious solution.”
“When we got married we were both virgins, and had stayed virgins long after most of our friends. It was a religious thing, but we were both also in full understanding of how sex had messed up our friends a time or two, so we waited for marriage. Everything the media, and friends told us was wrong. They said we’d have sex everyday, multiple times because we didn’t have kids. Well, he had severe ptsd from a deployment and needed to be alone A LOT, and my birth control starting making me sick, mimic menopause, and I had no libido. We had sex everyday on our honeymoon, but then slipped into a once or twice a week routine. However, that started to wean shortly after our marriage started, my mom got terminally ill and I sunk deep into depression. I didn’t notice when he would proposition me, so he stopped trying. When I finally would try, we’d fight because I was sure he was unhappy with me. He’d be busy or not in the mood. For 2 years we fought about it, eventually doing it a couple times a month on average, sometimes less, sometimes more. We both thought it sucked because we had EVERYTHING else figured out but we were failing at sex. We didn’t fight about anything but sex.
When I finally pulled out of my grief and depression, he admitted he had been wrong about himself… he wasn’t like stereotypical men on tv like he always had said he was. He said he actually wasn’t ALWAYS interested, and I said I wasn’t either. He admitted that when he’s had a bad day or super focused, he doesn’t want any sex. He wants to focus.
He said he loves me, and is happy with a less frequent sex life, because whenever we do it, it’s AMAZING, but it doesn’t happen everyday. I have really bad periods, so we tend to do it more frequently in the middle of the month, than during pms and period time. We both know that we want to have sex with each other, we just realized that while some people need it everyday, we just don’t. We just need to be open for each other’s needs, and make sure we are honest about our own. We also need to be respectful that we both withdraw sexually during times of hardship. Some couples bang like rabbits when they’re depressed, others withdraw. We are the latter.
However, we do need time together often, time to cuddle, laugh, discuss life, and we make time for that every single day. We are best friends, a team, and we’ll figure this sex thing out. We have a lifetime to work on it together. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does in their relationship, or what they think about ours. We are finally on the same page about it after 3 years, and it shows me that it only matters about how you both feel, not what anyone else says you should.”
“Honesty. Talking openly and without judgment. Communication makes the experience better.”
“To be honest we haven’t really had that disagreement. Not because we have sex like teenagers, but because my husband knows when it’s a bad time (he’s about 90% accurate). Because of this I hardly turn him down.”
“This is an ongoing discussion as it always seems to change, but I have found that just being open and honest is the best method. I think it is important that when you might be saying no to sex now does not mean you are rejecting the person. That actually leads me to another point – there is a difference between intimacy and sex. Having intimate moments does not require having sex. Intimacy can be created in many ways and substituting those in place of sex can be rewarding.
Overall, though, communicate and don’t be hurt. Also, I have occasionally told my husband that when I’m ready/in the mood, I’ll initiate it.”
“When I’m not in the mood for sex, I stimulate my husband in other ways. He does the same for me.”
“So one day we had an in depth conversation about my needs in our marriage and his needs, I need to get out of the house with other woman, he is totally ok with this, his needs are sex at least once a week, while we don’t keep a tally or anything, I always remember(now) when I go out, are my husbands needs met? So I don’t go out weekly but I try to think about him also, especially when I get out of the house twice in one week!”
“First, generally, if we have sex once a week, we avoid a lot of disagreements in this department. Yes. My husband would like sex several times a week (every day if we could). But, we both readily seem to have fallen into the groove that AT LEAST once a week makes for a healthy relationship in the bedroom.
The disagreement comes when I don’t initiate it… like ever, or it’s been a LONG time since I have.”
“My spouse and I don’t necessarily have disagreements about frequency of sex. More like. . . differences in needs.
So first things first: we always try to be open and loving while clearly stating our own needs (or inquiring after theirs). Then we find our own balance for whatever our current circumstances are. Usually if I’m trying to meet his needs and he’s trying to meet mine, we find a really good balance. And if we can’t, we compromise a little, get creative, or readdress things later.
Also, life is crazy. Needs and circumstances change a lot, so we discuss this aspect of our relationship semi frequently. In the end, clear and loving communication has been the best thing for us.”
“Men just seem hard-wired to want sex 24/7 (or at least that’s the case with mine!) So, whenever I’m feeling less than in the mood, I remember a very random interview from Gabby Reece (of all people) wherein she talked about how sex (and food) are the best ways to show love/caring for your man. And then she said — it doesn’t take long! If you think about how much time you spend doing stupid, mundane stuff during just one day and how really a 20-30 minute investment in your relationship is really nothing. It doesn’t take long, and it does SO much for the happiness of our relationship and therefore our home. Sometimes they approach it like exercise, where you don’t really want to at the onset, but then you do it and you feel great and you never regret it. Gabby and her husband have a goal of doing it at least once every 48 hours! (Which is admittedly probably more than I can aspire to). BUT, their general outlook on it has helped me to be more willing. I can see a huge difference in the happiness and quality of my marriage versus other couples I know that tend to have less-frequent sex or worse, withhold it as some sort of leverage.
If there are times where less sex is “unavoidable” (like early pregnancy or especially post-partum), communication is key! And going out of your way to show affection in other ways …
Here’s a link to that interview with Gabby Reece if you want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.”
“It seemed to happen more when we were first married (for what that’s worth), but after a few tearful nights after built-up frustration, we finally agreed to this: if he wanted to but I didn’t, we did something else (what the “something else” was has changed a few times over the last 10 years and probably would vary from couple to couple, so I’ll leave that open). I don’t know what we’ll do if I want it and he doesn’t, maybe the same thing. I imagine that will happen sometime as we get older (since I guess a woman’s sex drive peaks much later?), but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Honestly, the best thing we’ve done for situations like this as well as just about every other awkward or potentially tense sexual experience/disagreement we’ve had is just to trust each other and do our best to be kind.”
“Communication is key. You have to tell you partner what you like/enjoy. That makes the experience better, for both of you. You also have to be able to say what you don’t like.
We have found that if the above lines of communication are open, the disagreement line is also open. Go into the conversation with the idea that it is a compromise, no one gets all they want (or don’t want).”
“I’m the one in the relationship that wants sex more often than my husband does. My perception that it is usually the other way around in most marriages has caused me to feel a lot of things (i.e., unfeminine, undesirable, etc). But what has helped us is recognizing how we each feel loved through different ways and helping fill those needs even when we may feel like our own need is more pressing or important. When we both focus on helping the other, then both of our needs get met without making the other person feel put-upon or used.”
“My husband developed some health issues that made sex difficult for him. These issues gradually got worse until we were only having sex twice a month at the most. Not realizing he was having so much trouble, I wrongly assumed he wasn’t attracted to me anymore. I felt so hurt and worried that I wasn’t able to have a calm conversation about it. I finally broke down and sobbed out my worries to him. He reassured me that the problem was only his health issue, and that he had been too embarrassed to talk to me about it. Once I felt reassured, it was easy to find other intimate ways to feel close. Taking about it also motivated him to work on his health, so even though he still has physical issues, he no longer struggles with sex. Now we have great sex at least twice a week and our communication continues to improve.”
“Creating a schedule. Making it fun. Mixing it up. Putting in the effort to make it special and make me feel good makes me want to more.”
In our marriage, we do not equate sex as a “need” rather we view it as a “want”.
Sex is an amazing part of life and we both love it, and want it at nearly equal rates. Often we have had times in our marriage where it was a daily thing, for months in a row. We have also had times where thing get really slow in the sex department, whether because of a new baby or a busy job.
We recognize that life has a lot of moving parts to it and when you add one more need to the list, things can turn sour for one or both of you. The one needing may be resentful of the one who currently isn’t needing at the same pace. The one who is not needing will feel guilt, failure, and sorrow for not being able to respond to their lover’s need.
When you both look at sex as a want it is easier on both sides because we already understand that there are many wants in life as an adult that do not get fulfilled and are that much sweeter if they do get fulfilled!”
“Always say yes. We probably average once per day with this method and it keeps us feeling sexy/desirable and offers a chance to connect physically and emotionally. Why not?”
“This might not work for other people, but my husband and I (early on in our marriage,) just decided on the frequency. For us, that is every other day. I know that some people might feel like having sex scheduled takes some of the romance or spontaneity out of it, but let’s face it, marriage (and especially when you have kids) isn’t always going to feel romantic or spontaneous. And it especially won’t offer those firey moments often enough for a healthy sex life to survive and thrive.
Sex is super important to a happy marriage. Especially (but not exclusively) for the husband. I know that it is common for some women to feel like they are just being used by their husbands or that men are “animals” and only want sex. That is definitely not true. I like to think of it like this… Sex is an important way for husbands to connect with their wives, just like talking and spending quality time together is an important way for wives to connect with their husbands. We wouldn’t want our husbands to deprive us of time to communicate and connect with them. So why do we feel that it is ok for us to deprive them of connection with us through sex?
Before I got married, my mom gave me some really great advice. She encouraged me to never (or at least very rarely) reject my husband when he wanted to have sex. She told me that she wished that she had been given that advice at the beginning of her marriage because she knows that it would have saved her (and my dad) a lot of heartache if she had just understood how important sex is to husbands. It is one of the best ways to show our husbands that we truly love them. So, I took this advice to heart and decided to follow it. 7 years into marriage now, and I can say that I have never regretted this. I fully believe that following this advice has been one of the greatest blessings in our marriage. Our sex life is very fulfilling for both me, and my husband. It is something that we have never argued about. It is something that truly brings us closer and strengthens our marriage.
I will say that yes, there are times when I don’t necessarily “feel” like having sex. Maybe I’m tired or something. But I will also say that during those times, I have never regretted having sex anyway. I always come away from it feeling closer to my husband and feeling like I was able to show him that I love him. I will also say that because I try to never reject my husband, he is also super understanding when there is a time that he would like to have sex (or that is already a designated “on night”) but I’m really not feeling good or I’m super tired or something. He understands that I’m not saying no because I don’t want to have sex and connect with him, but because I just don’t have the energy. I try to keep these times where I say no to a super minimum. I also like to throw in some surprises sometimes and initiate sex even when it’s not an “on night.”
One more thought… I honestly believe that our healthy and very fulfilling sex life is one of the main things that has kept our marriage so strong. It’s pretty hard to stay mad at each other for long when you’re having sex all the time. Haha.
So there you have it. I know that things work differently for other couples, but this is working beautifully for us. :)”
“I read the book, “365 Nights: a memoir of intimacy” by Charla Muller this past summer. (Saw it on the library shelf while looking for another book) My husband had expressed dissatisfaction about our sex frequency some time before that and, at the time, I’d reacted defensively – too much to do around the house, but not enough help, he should make my life easier if he wanted me to have time for sex, etc. The book was an eye opener – helped me see what message I was sending by putting him off (and even by making him be the instigator all the time), and helping me see the importance of sex. We don’t have sex every day; that would require a level of time coordination neither of us feel you to (plus a lot of ‘quickies’ that neither of us are interested in), but I definitely initiate sex more frequently and try to respond to his overtures more readily even if it doesn’t fit in my ‘schedule’. We used to have sex prob once every 2 weeks (embarrassing to admit now). My goal was originally 3 times/week, but it’s prob more realistically 2 times/week. At the very least, I try to make it a priority in my schedule now.”