"My husband and I have a loving, supportive marriage, but I’m worried about how often we have sex. It’s always good when we have it, but neither of us feel the need to have it very often. My best guess is once a month? (Although I know that sometimes it’s less!) I have this latent fear that this isn’t enough, and that every married person I know is having sex more often. Am I worried over nothing? Or should we be making a greater effort to do the deed more?”
We live in a crazy new world, and there’s no denying that, across America, there’s a serious sexual decline. So what are we doing these days instead of having sex? Easy! We’re putzing around on our phones or tuning in (and zoning out) to HBO, Netflix, Hulu and Prime.
We are also marrying later in life, and as the average age of first marriage creeps up, the average person comes to a marriage with many of years of inconsistent sexual activity. In short: We get used to doing other things and not having sex.
According to the General Social Survey, research suggests that the average married person has sex roughly once a week. But there’s reason to believe this reported stat isn’t accurate. Specifically, because people are self-conscious about their sex lives, they often fudge the truth. For instance, the amount of condom sales do not match the amount of sexual acts in which people report using a condom. By a whole lot.
Here’s the truth: It’s really common to worry about whether or not you’re having enough sex, especially in a culture that’s so concerned with it. But I want to emphasize one of my core beliefs: Whatever amount of sex you’re having is “normal,” as long as you and your spouse are OK with the frequency.
If you are in a super-happy marriage, and you are both satisfied having sex just once a month and connecting in other ways, you are completely normal. There are many other people just like you! But you need to ask yourself this question:
Do I really want to have more sex, or am I concerned that my relationship isn’t sexual enough even though I’m happy?
If deep down you want to have more sex, and you feel you’re not sexually satisfied, then you need to bring it up with your husband outside the bedroom. Say, “Hey, I was wondering if we could try this new position I read about?” Or, “I would like to up our sexual frequency; should we start putting sex on the calendar?” Then, DO that. Put sex on the calendar. It’s amazing how easily you can up sexual frequency by preparing mentally and physically, early in the day.
If you are sexually satisfied, but concerned that your husband isn’t, ask that question directly. “Babe, are you satisfied with the type of sex we’re having and the frequency? I don’t have a problem with it, but I just want to make sure you feel good about our sex life.” Maybe there’s stuff he’d like to change. Maybe he’d like you to initiate more or be more dominant. Maybe he’d like to try new acts or positions. Maybe bringing this up will open the door to a great, open conversation. It sounds like you have a wonderful husband, who would be open to figuring this out together.
But maybe he is satisfied, and your worries are the same ones shared by millions of people—everyone else probably has a super-wild sex life, and we do not. In this case, I want you to breathe and remember that there’s a whole spectrum of sexual normalcy. What you’re telling me sounds very par for the course.
That said, if you are never interested in sex at all and you want to be, you can talk to your doctor. Sometimes, certain health conditions and medications can hinder your libido. And good news: There are fixes for this!
Bottom line: Our sex lives are not about “keeping up with the Joneses.” Check in with your partner. If he’s happy and you’re happy, I’m happy. End of story.
Jenna Birch is the author of The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love, a dating and relationship-building guide for modern women. To ask her a question, which she may answer in a forthcoming PureWow column, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.