Is There Any Truth to the Old "Less Sex in Marriage" Cliché?

We asked the experts.
Overhead view of unmade bed
Photo: Image Source / Getty Images
Hayley Folk
by
Hayley Folk
Hayley Folk
Hayley Folk
The Knot Contributor
  • Hayley writes articles on a freelance basis for The Knot Worldwide, with a specialty in sex and relationships.
  • Her work has appeared in The Knot, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and more.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Hayley was a full-time editor at a business publication.
Updated Jan 22, 2024

Whether you've been married for less than a year or for more than twenty, it's only natural for intimacy to wax and wane over time. But it does make you curious: Is there any truth to the school of thought that couples are destined to have less sex in marriage?

Rest assured that you're not kissing a healthy sex life goodbye with that wedding-day smooch. (Now that would be just depressing, wouldn't it?)

So how often do married people have sex? Are folks overall having less sex in marriage? And how can you maintain healthy sex in marriage? We turned to the experts to find out below.

Meet the Experts

  • Suman Kumar Sahni is a certified relationship expert who uses her expertise to provide couples with ways to refresh the mood in the bedroom.
  • Marla Renee Stewart, a sexologist and relationship expert, has years of experience in coaching singles and couples to a better sex life.

In this article:

How Often Do Married People Have Sex

According to a 2017 study, the average American married couple has sex 56 times a year, which is around once a week.

As things go, that definitely seems like a healthy sex life, when you take into account how busy life can truly get.

Is everyone destined to have less sex after marriage?

Is it true? Do people have less sex after marriage? "Not everyone is destined to have less sex in their marriage, but it does happen often," sexologist Marla Renee Stewart explains. "Typically, folks who prioritize their sex lives in their relationship fare better than those who put it on the backburner."

There is no universal answer to the question—but in short, less sex in marriage is not destined. It just fully depends on your relationship and how important sex is to you and your partner. The right amount of "marriage" sex fully depends on your preferences. If once a week is good with you—or even every few weeks—that's great. If you're more inclined to a few times a week, that's also great. A healthy sex life is all based on your marriage (and yours alone).

"Ultimately, the amount of sex you have in your marriage is up to you and your partner," Stewart says. "And there is no one-size-fits-all answer."

Why do married couples stop having sex?

It is common for sexual frequency to rise and fall over time in many marriages. According to relationship expert Suman Kumar Sahni, there are many factors that can influence sexual desire. These can include the following:

Comfort and routine

"One of the most common reasons why people have less sex in marriage is comfort and routine," Sahni explains. "As couples become more comfortable with each other, they tend to fall into a routine that can make sex less exciting and spontaneous. This can lead to a decrease in sexual desire and frequency."

Stress and fatigue

Another huge factor in sexual frequency is stress and fatigue. The demands of work, children and household responsibilities can leave couples feeling exhausted and too tired for sex.

Communication breakdown

As they say, communication is key. Couples who do not communicate effectively about their sexual desires and needs can become sexually frustrated and disconnected.

Health issues

Health issues can also contribute to a decrease in sexual activity in marriage. For example, conditions like erectile dysfunction, menopause and chronic pain can make sex uncomfortable or painful.

Infidelity

Lastly (and unfortunately), infidelity can be a huge factor in having less sex in marriage. Naturally, the discovery of an affair can cause emotional trauma and lead to a loss of trust and intimacy between partners.

How to Improve Sex in Marriage

Are you having less sex in marriage? Try not to panic: According to our experts, here are some tips for improving your sex life, post-"I do."

Prioritize your emotional and physical connection

"This means checking in, taking the time to seduce one another by doing the small things and dating each other," Stewart says. "This also means being kind, mindful and helping one another when you can."

"With the physical connection, this means making sure that you take the time to hug, kiss and give affection often."

Get to know each other's fantasies

First, explore your own desires and what you'd like to possibly experience in the bedroom. (Consider these erotic suggestions to inspire you.) Encourage your partner to do the same. Then, talk about your fantasies together and how you can explore those fantasies with one another.

Work on your sex skills

"Too many times, we think we know our partners and their bodies. But as we age, our bodies change," Stweward says. "The same skills that we had might not be helpful anymore."

To amp up your sex life and learn new skills, Stewart suggests exploring classes (there are plenty of virtual options), or even hiring a sex coach or therapist.

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