Good Question: How Much Sex Is Enough?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It can be one of the biggest issues in a marriage: how much sex is enough to keep everyone happy?

A woman in France actually won a legal case, arguing that her husband of 21 years wasn’t giving her the sex she deserved as part of a marriage. In the end, they got divorced and he had to pay about $13,000.

“I think couples are concerned about this all the time,” said Eli Coleman, Ph.D., MED, who is the director of the human sexuality program at the University of Minnesota. “Are we having sex enough? If we’re not having sex enough, how often should we be having it?”

The gold standard for this kind of research is the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey. One of the questions is about frequency of sex.

On average, married people have sex with their spouse 58 times a year, that’s a little more than once a week.

“Some people have wild fantasies of what it’s supposed to be. They think it’s supposed to be every day,” said Coleman.

In fact, Coleman said that research indicates what most married couples already know.

“There’s a drop-off after the first child. There’s a drop-off after the second child — and some couples never recover,” he said.

Young couples under 30 are the most frisky, according to the GSS, having sex with their spouse 109 times a year, which is about two or three times a week.

“There’s wide variation of that norm, wide variation,” said Coleman, pointing out that each couple has their own idea as to what’s enough. “There is absolutely no magic number.”

In general, men have a stronger sex drive and want sex more frequently than women, according to Coleman.

“Most couples have a different level of desire,” he said, calling it “desire discrepancy.”

It’s often a factor in marriages falling apart, Coleman said, “most couples are not able to talk about it. And that’s absolutely essential.”

“While talking about sexual behavior is still quite taboo and uncomfortable for many couples, it is absolutely crucial that couples find a way, time and the motivation to articulate their specific perceptions of and experiences with sexuality in their marriage,” said Carol Bruess, director of the marriage and family program at the University of St. Thomas.

Bruess said the number doesn’t matter, “as long as both members are satisfied with the amount/frequency, the couple talks explicitly about it, they continue to talk about changing needs/aging/desires over time and at various life stages, and they seek outside assistance if they are struggling with this very important part of their relationship.”

According to the GSS, 15 percent of all marriages are essentially sex-less, with no sex over the past six months to a year.

“It does not mean they are doomed or destined for failure/divorce. It is more likely to mean they are either experiencing a set of challenges, which they will want and need to address or that both members of the couple are satisfied with other kinds of intimacy: conversation, spending time together, or non-sexual touching/closeness,” said Bruess.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Mike

    Their were times when daily was good.
    Today, it’s about once a week………..
    Time will do that to a person.
    Maybe I should trade her in?
    Just kidding…………..

    • Ellen

      Careful Mike! I heard about a guy who traded in his 40year old for two 20’s!
      Then he found out he wasn’t wired for 220!

      • Justin

        There are a lot of men that can’t handle a 220…
        and it’s not physically

  • ;-)

    Maybe she’s already traded you in Mike? Just kidding…….

  • Wildman

    Never enough in a committed relationship. It’s healthy, great cardio.

  • Zing

    So in France it costs you money if you don’t have sex with your wife enough? Why do we hate them again?

  • mommawithfour

    I suggest that every married couple should read the book “sheet music” by dr.kevin leman (AWESOME book)…it was a huge blessing to our marriage…after 4 kiddos in less than 5 years my libido was less than good, at best it was lame. My poor husband. Things are amazingly better now! But that took us going through some hard, hard stuff (porn addiction and masturbation because of the frustruation…he claims complete responsiblity for his actions but I know I had a part in it too, forgiveness and healing are hard but beautiful additions to our marriage.)

    I think understanding eachothers needs and desires helps a ton and also for me understanding the sexual need a man has really helped…I just thought he was a sex addict, but he is not…he has a created desire for me, and I can now see that as a sweet blessing in our marriage. It is a joy now to be mitually eager in bed. Even when I am not super eager or too pooped to whoop I have found for the sake of my marriage, relationship with my husband, my husbands perfomance elsewhere in life, and my children (they know when things are not good with momma and poppa) there really is no reason to say “no” (unless sickness or that time of month)…plus in the end I really enjoy it too. And I always sleep better. A helthy se* life in marriage makes for a better life in general for the both of us. I have one amazing man.

    • H Orndog

      You wrote [i]A helthy se* life in marriage makes for a better life in general for the both of us. I have one amazing man.[/i]

      Congratulations on your healthy sex life.

      I’m kinda puzzled as to why you can tell us how many times you do it etc etc but then end up putting a * at the end of the word “sex”

      Why the sudden shyness?? LOL

      • mommawithfour

        I have had that word blocked before so I did not want to get blocked…that is all, not shy.

    • Cassie

      Whatever. How much are you getting paid to plug the book?

      • mommawithfour

        how about you read it? The PAYOFF is how much my husband and I have been blessed and have benefited from the material.

    • mommawithfour

      just another note…he is not the only one activly asking. :) I would say it is a good week it we get in 4 or 5 times. It is a really good week if we get it in 7 or more. And I am not kidding. I love making love to my man and I am not a young sping chicken here! ;-)

      • red

        gag WE really did not need to know this garbage

        • Wildman

          Then don’t read the comments half wit.

        • mommawithforu

          Red could you please tell me what is garbage about a healthy vibrant and loving marriage?

  • TMI

    Eww…so, how ’bout them Twins?

  • Billy

    I make love to my hand one a day.

    • booyah


  • gily

    Would like it two or three times a week but it ends up being about once a week.

  • Jennifer

    Sex cements a marriage. You really do need that intimacy, and whatever amount is right for a couple is right for them, whether it’s once a month or once a day. (We try to keep on the more frequent side– at 53 & 65 years old.)

    By the way, I don’t know why Red posted “we don’t need this garbage” on mommawithfour’s comment. Sounds like she has a healthy, loving relationship! I have a wonderful husband, too, and it’s all about communication. Sex is a beautiful thing, and it should not be treated as something dirty.

    • Deep Thinker

      You are naughty….

    • mommawithfour

      thank you. sounds like it is good for you to. blessings

  • H Orndog

    What was SHE doing to entice him…. c’mon… lets be real…. don’t walk around the house frumpy and tired; yawning and saying how its been a long day and then except the man to love you up when you get to the bedroom.

    She needs to have made an effort too. When a woman is not into it, it not easily apparent, but when a man is not into it, the results can be “seen” immediately.

    Men are visual animals – if you don’t help, the next few dates for him will be with Miss Rosie Palms and her 5 friends/sisters

  • Icecream

    I want sex with my man everyday. We love and respect each other and sex is fantastic with him. I guess it helps to be in good shape and beautiful too as the comment ahead of me imply s. We are completely fatally attracted to one another and I love it. It makes our marriage.

  • Realist

    My bf and I fk like rabbits. We switch positions and do each other all the time. It’s crazy. Prostate pressure is nice!

    • Switcheroo

      Hope you and Joe are happy Frank

      • I've got a wild streak...


  • No hope

    Is once every 20 years to much

  • I've got a wild streak...

    It’s taboo to talk about sexual behavior with your significant other? I suppose it depends on how the relationship is going. I talk about it with my fiance. We don’t have any problems with that.

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