How Often Do Men Need to Have Sex?

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Shaunti Feldhahn is an author and social researcher who specialises in marital relationships. In this article she responds to a question from a female reader about how often men need sex: “Even though I can go weeks or months and not miss it, he says he wants me to want it like he does.”

  | Edited extract, read the full article here


How would you feel if you told your husband, “I need to hear you say ‘I love you’,” and he heaved a big sigh and said, “Okay, I’ll try to say it.  But how often do you need to hear it?  Is once a week okay? Whatever it is, tell me, and I’ll plan on that.”

My guess is, you’d be really hurt. You’d be thinking, He supposedly loves me, but he has to force himself to dredge up the willpower to show me love?  Maybe he doesn’t really love me like he says he does.

You wouldn’t be hurt because he didn’t say “I love you” enough times.  You’d be hurt because of what it implied.  Maybe it means he doesn’t care about you. Maybe, you might think, it means you really aren’t even all that lovable.

Sex works the exact same way for most men. In the research, there seems to be no one standard amount of sex that men “need” to have; it is what sex signals to them that is important. Your sexual actions signal: I desire you; You are desirable; I want to be with you in that way; You make me feel amazing; I want to show you how much I care about you; and on and on.

We women think of sex as being primarily a physical need for a man: but it isn’t. One of a man’s deepest emotional needs is to feel that his wife desires him. And if he sees that his wife desires him, it gives him a sense of well-being in all the other areas of his life. But if she shows <big sigh> “Okay, fine, let’s get this over with,” then it is clear to him that she doesn’t desire him, he’s no good at trying to make her feel amazing, he must be completely undesirable… and that she doesn’t really care about him the way she says she does.

The I Love You Parallel

But let’s look at that “I love you” parallel for a moment. The research was just as clear that men love their wives but simply don’t think about saying words of love as often as a woman might want, either. Yet we rightly expect that men be purposeful about developing new habits of showing love. We rightly expect them to learn how to do that, and do it enthusiastically (rather than under compulsion), because it is so emotionally important to us as women.

The same thing can be said of sex. Now, yes, there are sometimes physical or emotional things that get in the way, and if that is true of you, please seek out professional help to address those issues.  But for many women, we just don’t realize how important it is to be purposeful about developing new habits of showing our husbands love in this way; of learning how to do it, and doing it enthusiastically because it is so emotionally important to our men.

Although the average appears to be a few times a week, there is no one “right amount” of sex that men need. Instead, the one constant is his emotional need to feel that you desire him.  Find ways to show that, and you’ll probably see more love coming from him to you, too!


This is an edited extract. Read the full article here

Watch video Desire Discrepancy from SmartLoving’s Marriage Kit – An Online course for marriage enrichment. This video is part of lesson 4 – Let’s talk – about sex!

To enrol in the course and see all lessons click here

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16 Comments

  1. James Bedu Kodjo Eric Graham on January 9, 2023 at 3:14 pm

    How do I have sex when at 40 I have never had intimacy with any woman out there.

    I am James Bedu Kodjo Graham and I am a Ghanaian Citizen.
    I hope that someone will write me back as soon as possible.
    This issue came about in the year 2003 the present.
    19 years of a love nightmare.

    • Francine & Byron Pirola on January 16, 2023 at 3:46 pm

      Hello James and thanks for reaching out.
      I don’t want to sound pretentious, but there is a better way to think about lovemaking. It’s not so much about ‘technique’ but about communication.
      Sex says with the body your total commitment to love and honour the woman you have married. When, and if, you marry, I think you will find that your desire to put the words of your wedding vows into the body language of sex will only be enhanced by your history of longing. Try to approach your virginity as a gift you are safeguarding for your future wife rather than a deprivation.

  2. Rob Redstone on January 6, 2023 at 3:53 am

    I tell my wife I love her every day and it’s heart fully said and she knows it. But when we have sex, she and I both know she’s doing me a favor.. no passion.. just an obligation… this article is spot on. I want to feel desired. I would suspect that women understand this concept, but don’t care no matter how good their husbands treat them. But if it involves taking the grandkids somewhere, she’s all in and always shows outright delight every time. Something is wrong with this picture. I’ve always considered my spouse the most important person in my life.. she obviously doesn’t feel that way.

    • Francine & Byron Pirola on January 6, 2023 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks for your honesty Rob – we hear your pain! Marriage can be one of the loneliest relationships and often made more so by the belief that everyone else is in perpetual honeymoon mode! We feel deeply for men and women in our age: both are being lied to by our popular culture and set up for heartache. We’ve made it our mission to try to address some of the myths so that couples can enjoy healthy, joyful, passionate and holy relationships. We hope you will find encouragement.

  3. Frank on December 21, 2022 at 8:52 am

    Ditto, Seth.
    Been too long (28 years 1 week and 2 days) without contact (but who’s counting?). Self pleasure doesn’t do it anymore–never really did–it merely scratches the itch. Getting harder to not go elsewhere. Only my religious beliefs are stopping me. Regular sex would fix her health issues (which are mostly stress induced) not to mention how it would improve the quality of our lives. Even at 70 sex is top of mind for me. Considering my last encounter was when I was 41 one shouldn’t be surprised it has occupied so much of my thoughts stifling my abilities to excel in other areas of life.

    • Francine & Byron Pirola on January 6, 2023 at 5:00 pm

      Thank you for your honesty and openness, Frank. We too often assume that older people lose interest in lovemaking, but our own parents have witnessed to us that it is still so very important.

      Your situation must be so painful for you. We pray that you will find strength and wisdom in your faith.

  4. Richard Stacey on December 14, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    Brilliant. This is exactly right.

  5. Karen R Berry on December 4, 2022 at 12:01 pm

    I had a very disappointed sexual life with my first husband. We were married and had four kids. Sex became boring for both of us. We divorced in 15 years. 16 years later after 5 years of dating. We safes sex until marriage. Neither of us could imagine not having a wonderful sex life. We were married 31 years when he passed away. I am a few months short of 80 and would give anything to have him back.

    • Francine & Byron Pirola on January 6, 2023 at 4:56 pm

      We hear the longing in your words Karen – may your husband rest in the Lord’s presence to be joined by you in due course.

    • Chase on February 8, 2023 at 2:11 am

      I feel the opposite article needs to be written how much sex do you have to give your man to keep him from leaving. This 3 times a year and less than 50 sexual encounters. Idk what the fuck is my wife’s problem. She promises all the time but I still haven’t had sex with her since we tied the knot. My question is why are women never Interested in sex?

  6. Felicia on December 1, 2022 at 10:54 am

    This was super helpful, thank you

  7. Kenneth Hamilton on November 16, 2022 at 3:42 am

    perfect in its simplicity and accuracy! Why has it taken mainstream so long to figure this out, produce it in layman’s terms and make it available? why is this not more broadly shared; as I’m sure you would find those to disagree with this article, either from the perspective of men or women, to be in the minority. Brilliant piece!

    • Francine & Byron Pirola on January 6, 2023 at 4:54 pm

      Thank Kenneth. We’ve found Shaunti’s work to be very helpful. I think one of the things that we like most about her is that it articulates our uniqueness as men and women and encourages us to be more for each other. Many other authors promote a kind of defensive or demanding strategy.

  8. Seth on November 15, 2022 at 2:57 am

    Great article. So so accurate. Wish more wives, especially mine, understood this!!

  9. Araceli meek on July 7, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    I haven’t seen my boyfriend in 3 weeks he lives in LA area n I live about 4hrs away. He doesn’t act like he misses being intimate nor does he show it with makes me think there’s some else giving him sexual attention? I’m frustrated because I do tell him constantly how much I miss him n need him n y then that’s when he tells me he misses me too…

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