Normal. Geeze. I was recently talking to a 90-plus-year-old woman and she was literally crying as she was sharing with me how crazy the world is to her now. In the midst of her thoughts, she even said, "And I was born before the Civil Rights movement." Shoot, I've only been on the planet less than half of the amount of time that she has and I feel the same way. What even is "normal" anymore? Whew.
This is a part of the reason why I think it's interesting that sometimes I'll be working with a married couple who will ask me if their sex life is "normal" or not. Off the rip, it already lets me know that there is probably less sex in the relationship than there should be. It also confirms that sexual patterns, in marital unions, aren't discussed, nearly as much as they probably should be.
So today, let's dig in. When it comes to the standard, what is common and considered natural about marriage and sex, what does it mean to have a so-called normal sex life?
First Up: Sex Needs to Be a Top Priority
I believe I've shared before that a huge flag in counseling sessions that I notice is when a person (it's usually the wife, I'm gonna be real) shares a long speech about how sex shouldn't be a main focus in a marital relationship; that once you've been together for more than a couple of years, it's not that big of a deal. What in the world? WHAT. IN. THE. WORLD? I will say it until the end of time (because that's just about how much I believe it)—one of the main things that should set your marital relationship apart from all others is the fact that you have sex with your spouse. The Bible backs it (I Corinthians 7:5, for starters). Research reveals it (many studies state that married sex is much more fulfilling). It's kinda irrefutable.
So, before getting into if your sex life is normal or not, I have to say that if you're currently not having sex—and you're physically capable of doing so—then that is already pretty problematic. The first thing to do is accept that fact. The next move is to ask yourself—and your partner—why that is your current reality. Because, what is abnormal, is not having sex with your spouse at all. It's not the standard. It's not a common thing (15-20 percent of people are in sexless marriages). It's not considered natural. And again, it's because, if there's any relational dynamic where sex is supposed to be a very top priority, marriage would be it.
How Often Do Married Couples Have Sex (on Average)?
OK, with that out of the way, let's get into how often married folks, on average, actually have sex. Well, according to a particular survey that happened to get a lot of media traction, 25 percent of couples copulate once a week. 16 percent say they do it 2-3 times a week. 17 percent said once a month. 7 percent said 1-2 times in the past year (geeze). 5 percent said more than five times each week (by the way, if you think this is all about "young folks", another survey revealed that 25 percent of women over the age of 70 actually "engage" in sexual activity a whopping four times a week). So clearly, it appears that far more couples are out here doing it and doing it well (hopefully) about once a week. And guess what? The ones who are, they tend to have a pretty fulfilling sex life and are happier in their relationship than those who have sex less than that.
You know what all of this means, right? If you're wondering how "normal" your sex life is, if you're having sex once a week, for the most part, you're all good. In fact, you're doing better than A LOT of folks out here.
What Are Some Red Flags That Your Sex Life Has Gone Awry?
And what if you're not having sex that much? Is it a cause for concern? Yes. And no. The reason why that answer is a bit of a mixed bag is because, as we all know, there are factors that play a role in how this all plays out. Work. Kids. Hectic schedules. Things like these are what can cause marital sex to have seasons, for sure. However, if it's been months of the same and not one thing has changed, that isn't something to just shrug off. It is definitely a red flag.
Let's explore a few others:
You have no interest in sex. If you didn't have any interest in eating or sleeping, we would say that's a problem, right? Along these same lines, sex needs to be treated as a staple in a marital union. So, if you suddenly have no interest in engaging in it, that isn't something that you should simply shrug off. See your doctor first. Be open to seeing a therapist after. Sexual disinterest doesn't typically "just happen". There is usually an underlying cause. Be intentional about discovering what they may be.
You keep making excuses to not have sex. George Washington Carver once said, "Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses." That said, please believe that a lack of physical intimacy continues to be a leading cause of divorce. Typically, we make up excuses either because we don't want to take any personal accountability or we're looking for a way to distract and "buy more time". When it comes to sex specifically, it's not long before our partner either gets super frustrated or feels extremely rejected because of our excuses—neither is healthy or beneficial. So, if you're making excuses to not have sex, what are you skirting around? What is it that you're trying your hardest to not address? Don't excuse it. Get to the root of it.
You constantly fantasize about other people during sex. There are some things in life that none of us want to admit and yet, most of us actually do or have done at some point. Fantasizing about another person during sex is on this list. Am I a fan of it? Not really. I just get that it sometimes naturally transpires. Still, if you are at a point where you've got to rely on the image of another individual—whether you personally know them or not—don't take this lightly either. Sex is supposed to connect your mind, body, and spirit to your partner. That's hard to do when your mind is wandering off…elsewhere.
You find sex with your partner boring. I'll tell you what—a word that folks underestimate as being a top cause of a relationship's demise is "boring". Something that is boring is dull. Something that is boring is tedious and repetitious. Something that is boring is unwelcome. And yes, sex can most certainly become boring, even if you find your spouse to be attractive, even if you love them to pieces. So, if you've been dodging sex more and more, being bored is another thing to consider.
Could it possibly be because Black Twitter and Hulu seem a whole lot more exciting than going into your bedroom? If so, what are you trying to do to change that (check out "This Is How To Create The Best Kind Of 'Sex Bucket List'", "8 'Kinds of Sex' All Married Couples Should Put Into Rotation", "15 Sex Hacks To Take Your Bedroom Action To The Next Level", "10 Married Couples Share The Keys To Their Totally Off-The-Chain Sex Life" and "10 Things Couples Who (Consistently) Have Great Sex Do")? Sexual boredom doesn't just…go away. Creativity must be cultivated in order to reignite sexual sparks.
Your partner is the only one who initiates. There are some spouses I know who are fine with having sex, so long as their spouse is the one who initiates it all of the time. Otherwise, they can easily go weeks and months without it. Not only is this unfair to their partner, but it's also a red flag because having a desire for sex—yes, to the point of sometimes wanting to initiate it yourself—is a very natural thing. If you can't remember the last time you came on to your husband, what's up with that? Whether it's ego, habit, or something else, your man deserves to feel wanted and desired, just as much as you do. Your lack of initiating is producing the opposite effect. That is nothing to feel good—or flippant—about.
5 Tips to Get Your Sex Life Back on Track
Figure out where things went "wrong". Believe you me, I know more than a few couples whose sex lives derailed from the wedding night on (one day, we'll explore that). However, they are actually the exception and not the rule. A huge part of a healthy relationship is having good sexual chemistry, so if you consider your marriage to be thriving overall, this means that your boudoir at least used to be too. What happened? Not in general—specifically? What caused you to have a lot less sex than you used to—whether that's several times a week, once a week, or even a few times a month? You can't fix anything until you know exactly what is wrong. Sex journaling may help you to get down to the core issues. You can learn more about what that is by checking out "The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)".
Talk to your partner. When a married couple signs up to be with each other for the rest of their lives, for better or for worse, their sex life was certainly not exempt. Your spouse should be the first person you can go to, especially if you are sexually dissatisfied, distressed, or disconnected. Whether it's something that has absolutely nothing to do with the bedroom itself (which isn't uncommon) or there is a sexual concern that is brewing within you (check out "Are You A Good Sexual Communicator? You Sure?"), you're not going to be able to make sex better all by yourself. Take your concerns to your partner. Preferably not during sex or even when he's trying to initiate it (no one likes rejection or constant critiquing). Choose a time when you're both calm and relaxed and able to have an open and honest discussion.
Bring some seduction into your relationship. How good are you at seducing your partner? The art of seduction is all about attracting, enticing, and even persuading. When you've been caught up in the routine of marriage for a while, you can find yourself not wanting to create ambiance, be romantic or come up with ways to make the thousandth time feel like the first one. Yet I don't know one husband on this planet who doesn't do a double-take when his wife meets him at the door with barely anything on in a room that is filled with nothing but candles. When's the last time that happened in your house? Hmm.
Make time for sex. Any time a husband or wife tries to tell me that they don't have time for sex, I promise you that I give them the biggest eye roll. You have time to go to work. You have time to eat. You have time to talk on the phone to your friends and scroll through your social media pages. Know why? Because these things are priorities to you. Know why else? Because each of these activities is able to offer up some sort of a payoff in your mind. It takes men, on average, five minutes to climax and us, on average, 25. There are 168 hours every week. You've got 30 minutes each week to make something happen. It's all about if sex is a priority to you—or not. If it's not, it most definitely should be.
See intimacy, not as a want but as a relational need. Sex is an essential part of marriage. I'm thinking that we all can agree on that, right? Well, if it's a part of what makes a marriage, a marriage, shouldn't sex be seen as a need more than "a want"? If that sounds ridiculous to you, there are actually some states that will grant a divorce based on a lack of sex due to it being seen as the alienation of affection and/or constructive abandonment. Why? Because, in most instances, when two people decide to marry one another, it is understood that sex is a part of the relationship—that sex is needed in order for the relationship to flourish.
When we actually stop seeing sex as just "a fun thing to do" and rather it as a foundational element for a marriage to thrive, it tends to shift from being just a want to a bona fide need. And what we need, we figure out how to get it. We strive to cultivate some sense of sexual "normalcy" in our lives. And our marriage is all the better, directly so, for it.
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