When it comes to sex with your spouse, less may be more. Contrary to what the rest of the world seems to think, there are many upsides to not having frequent sex with your partner. Yes, you read that correctly!
Let’s back up for a moment. There’s a great deal of information suggesting the benefits of having frequent—even daily—sex go far beyond the obvious pleasant sensations. For example, articles link the act to cold prevention, and even to earning more money—one study found that those enjoying time between the sheets at least four times a week earned about 5% more than those who didn’t. Meanwhile, there’s an influx of shows, movies and books focusing on the topic, making it clear that there’s a huge emphasis on sex in society. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Here’s why.
The “less is more” approach to sexual intimacy
This isn’t to say a person should forego sex for weeks on end or become a cold, unromantic soul. Rather, it’s about letting go of society’s over-emphasis on the importance of sex in relationships. In other words, toss the notion that daily romps are the only way to bond with your spouse, or that going more than three days without sex means your marriage is doomed. While the rest of the world is constantly trying to determine if their “normal” fits in with the bevy of surveys, statistics and articles about the act based on what other people are wearing, whispering and exploring, consider shifting away from the extreme focus on sex. Instead, adopt a “less is more” approach to sexual intimacy.
Relationship expert Dr. Phil is on board with this idea. While he acknowledges the importance of sex in strengthening bonds, he maintains that it need not always include chandelier-swinging and simultaneous orgasms. In fact, he says that people should also view sexual intimacy as something that has nothing to do with intercourse.
He suggests engaging in other physical acts that are sexual and loving in nature; holding hands, caressing and touching are ways he says people can—and should—be intimate. When you and your spouse engage in these gestures, you’re still communicating desire and expressing love; wrinkled sheets and clothes strewn across the floor aren’t the sole way of conveying such feelings.
Daily sex: the stuff dreams are made of… or overrated and predictable?
David Lesser, who addresses the topic of frequent sex in a Huffington Post blog, writes that while he isn’t saying daily sex would be awful, he’s of the mindset that it’s not necessary. That is the key message here: despite all the pictures, tips, hard-to-pronounce “new” positions and “how often are you getting it” discussions, frequent sex is not essential to creating lasting bonds with your partner. “Trying to do the deed daily sounds like a job,” Lesser says. That’s the point exactly. Sex should be fun, meaningful and spontaneous; daily sex can equate to yawning, predictability and ho-hum feelings.
Not having frequent sex with your spouse can also intensify the experience when it does take place. There’s something about yearning and a slow build-up of anticipation that can take sex from good to fantastic.
Forget the over-emphasis on sex and do what’s best for you and your partner
What fun is sex when it’s based on what others say is the optimal frequency? Their lives are not yours. They may have no children, while you have three. They may have roommates, while you and your spouse have the house to yourself. You are not your colleague, neighbor or a reality TV show celebrity, so ditch whatever you hear or read about sex (much of which is likely filled with gossip and exaggeration anyway), and do what best works for you and your spouse.
Ditching the constant focus on sex and abandoning tasks like keeping track of time in between lovemaking sessions can also strengthen another crucial area in relationships—communication. Yes, sex is a form of communication, but beyond that, there’s something to be said for face-to-face interaction—with clothes still on. Sharing laughs, letting your spouse in on your deepest thoughts and approaching serious topics are all part of bonding that builds intimacy and fosters increased closeness in and out of the bedroom.
In sum, choosing not to place so much emphasis on the frequency, duration and kind of sex you’re having and instead focusing on other aspects of your relationship can bring you and your partner closer together. Sex is amazing and important, but it’s not everything.