Relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist, Leandie Buys, weighs in on the “what is normal” debate. How often should couples be having sex, and does a lack of sex mean that there’s an issue in the relationship?
When it comes to sex, there is no “normal” and “abnormal”. Something only becomes a problem when it starts affecting your daily life and the quality of your relationships.
When it comes to the fabled “three-times-a-week” rule, this is absolutely a relationship-killer. Firstly, sex does not follow rules and secondly, every relationship is different. Couples who put pressure on themselves to “perform” will only find themselves feeling frustrated and unfulfilled in their relationship.
On average, 45% of South Africans in a relationship have sex two to three times per week. This is according to the Sunday Times Lifestyle Sex Survey in 2018.
However, this is the AVERAGE. Some couples are happy with once a week and some couples have sex five times a week. Some have sex once a month. It is very important to understand that all relationships are different, and couples should never compare their relationship with someone else’s.
The only thing a couple can compare their relationship to is itself
Is it better or worse than it was? Are you living up to your expectations of your relationship? If a couple starts comparing their relationship with others, they will only end up finding all the faults.
The number of times a couple has sex per week is entirely up to them, and the only time it should become an issue is when one person in the relationship wants sex a lot more than the other, and it starts to cause conflict, tension and resentment in the relationship.
When this happens, it is called Desire Discrepancy, and the couple should seek professional counselling before the relationship is damaged. A therapist will help the couple to understand each other’s libido’s and might uncover hidden reasons why the one person’s libido is lower than the other’s.
Sex drive, or libido describes a person’s desire to have sex
It can be affected by many different things including:
- stress and fatigue
- acute or chronic illness
- drug or alcohol use or abuse
- medication use (including certain contraceptive pills, antidepressants and beta blockers)
- pregnancy and the postpartum period
- surgical changes and gynaecological infections
- hormonal changes (due to menopause, illness or medication)
- relationship problems
- previous sexual trauma
- religious beliefs
What happens when sex causes conflict in a relationship?
Couples often end up in conflict about sex, without understanding where each other is coming from. An unhappy, stressed out woman will not want to initiate sex, and certainly will not reach orgasm.
Age also plays a huge role in libido and sexual desire. The average man reaches his sexual peak between the ages of 15 and 20 years. The average woman reaches her sexual peak between the ages of 35 and 40. Menopause, which occurs in women most often between the ages of 45 and 55 is also known to negatively affect a woman’s libido.
Desire discrepancy can be overcome
Conflict over sex results in couples withdrawing from each other emotionally and physically. They talk less and become less affectionate. Partners develop bad feelings towards each other and may even end up sleeping in separate beds.
If your relationship has reached the stage where communication has broken down, and the relationship is no longer fulfilling, loving and a positive influence on your life, you and your partner need the intervention of a relationship counsellor. To save your relationship, you need perspective, information and reassurance from an outside source.
A counsellor will have the tools, knowledge and understanding to help you repair your relationship.
Leandie Buys is offering online relationship counselling or tele-therapy. Find out more HERE.