(Sex Re-Education)

How Much Sex Is Normal In A Relationship?

We get to the bottom of this age-old question.

by Alyssa Shelasky

Sex (Re-) Education is a sex and relationships advice column for women in their late 30s, 40s, and beyond. Got a question for Alyssa? Fill out this form.

Dear Alyssa,

I’ve been married to my husband for about 7 years. We have two young kids. Life is hectic, but happy. There’s only one real issue in my marriage: my husband doesn’t think we have enough sex.

I’d say we do it about once a month, sometimes more, sometimes less. I’m fine with that — the amount feels right to me! At the end of the day, I’m craving a new panini press, not a porno session, ya know? My husband, on the other hand, is convinced that most married-with-kids couples are having sex at least twice a week. The truth is, I have no idea what is normal. I have no clue how often my friends f*ck their husbands, and I don’t want to ask.

So instead, I come to you. How much sex should we be having? What is "normal?"

Undersexed But OK With It,


Dear T,

This is such a popular topic. And obviously I’m going to tell you that when it comes to how much sex you should be having, there is no “normal.” That’s not some throwaway line. It’s the truth. I’m sitting court-side to everyone’s real sex lives and there’s an epic range. I’ve also asked all my friends, not only on your behalf but because I’m naturally tacky like that, and there’s no consistent answer. Some couples have sex every two weeks and feel perfectly satisfied; some have sex on Christmas and birthdays and feel absolutely awesome about it.

But let’s dig deeper. Because this is the kind of issue that kind of spills into everything, with diminishing returns, if it goes unresolved for too long. Everyone gets resentful and low-key pissed-off, and sex becomes loaded and weaponized and weird and not enjoyable or organic at all — and I’m ready to close that loop.

First things first. I’m not so interested in your husband’s random sex statistics, but to his point, sure, I know a handful of married-with-kids couples who have sex twice a week, and to put it crudely: they are all crazy f*cking rich. They have nannies. They have housekeepers. They have cooks. They have expensive underwear that is ironed by laundry wizards and black lace bras that are architecturally designed to induce massive erections. Does this make their lives perfect? Hardly. But do they have the time and energy to make love in a bedroom that feels like the Montage Healdsburg in Sonoma County, while their kids are sound asleep in their Roller Rabbit pajama sets, and their dishes are sparkling as if Ms. Meyer herself was the house manager? Yes. Yes they do. So, I say this to your husband: Those couples live on a different planet, honey.

Maria Korneeva/Moment/Getty Images

Back to earth! Are you personally happy with your sex life? You say once a month works, but is this the sex pleasurable? I’m going to guess that it’s good-not-great, and you’re comfortable with that, and, honestly, you kinda don’t give a shit. Some (younger and child-free) readers might disagree, but I see no tragedy in any of that. You’re all good.

However, here’s what I’d like to pitch to help resolve the situation. Try to infuse your marriage with a little more flirtation and a slightly higher sexual vibration just to prevent the inertia of it all. Watch Netflix together while wearing a silky camisole set, instead of a full blown Aviator Nation sweatsuit (orgasmic in a whole other way). And let me reiterate, this advice is all for your sake, not his. Take a moment to kiss, on the lips, when you both come home from work. This one is completely insane but … maybe shave your legs? A beauty publicist sent me this Flamingo set, and I impulsively shaved in the bath for the first time in months, and I felt unusually sexy for days after. It was literally as if Giselle inhabited my dragging Mom Bod. Try a round of Do Tell! Couples Edition – it’s a card game that promises to ignite closeness and intimacy. Little things like this will disrupt his stupid sexless narrative, and create (at the very least) the illusion that you’re still a hot couple – without actually having to clock in sex sessions if you’re simply not DTF.

Don't let your husband’s frustrations turn into anything more than typical manchild whining. Laugh at yourselves. Tell him if he really wants to have sex with you at night, he has to wake up with the kids the next morning, and get it ALL done, while you lay in bed uninterrupted until 8 a.m. (I mean, can you imagine?)

My beautiful and energetic mother-in-law, who is in her mid-70’s, has a philosophy: Don’t let the old lady in. My spin on that is something like: don’t let the sexless frumpster in. Keep the fun alive. Keep the seduction on simmer. And tell him he wants any extra bumping ‘n grinding this month, he best deliver that panini press on Christmas morning. And he can buy me one for Hanukkah, too.

Happy Holidays,