Quantity vs. Quality: What Do Hubbies Want?

31 Days to Great Sex book coverQuick announcement first: I dropped the ball weeks ago and forgot to announce two winners for Sheila Gregoire’s fabulous book, 31 Days to Great Sex. But the winners are Heather G. and Megan, and Sheila is sending their books. Congratulations, ladies! In the meantime, it’s not too late to get your copy for Valentine’s Day or just because. You can purchase the book for less than a Chick-fil-A meal ($4.99) through my affiliate link by clicking HERE.

I think this post is the second-to-last entry in my It’s Raining Men (hearing from the hubbies) series. Today’s entry is from Jay Dee of Sex within Marriage. I love his honesty about how hubbies feel, paired with his seeking God’s heart for sexuality in marriage.

When J first approached me about writing a post, I had just listened to a podcast called Sexy Marriage Radio, and they posed the following question: Would you be willing to give up half the frequency of sex to double the quality of sex?

I didn’t know the answer to that question for myself. I might be willing to try for a short term though. So, I came up with a plan.

Cut our frequency in half for 2 weeks to see if sex was better. Then, double our frequency to see if it got worse.

I thought it was a solid plan. But, life has a way of setting our plans for us. Over Christmas break, my wife developed an awful cough which turned turned out to be a lung infection. Unfortunately, we didn’t figure that out until a month into it. So, all through the Christmas and New Years season, my wife has been fighting what seems like the worst cold she’s ever had. She couldn’t sleep because she was coughing too much, couldn’t breathe through her nose, wheezing, couldn’t catch her breath, and drinking enough lemon tea to keep a small company in the black.

To sum up: She was exhausted and felt awful.

So, by coincidence, phase 1 of my plan fell into place, but a little more harshly than I would have liked. Our frequency dropped to more like 1/4, or less, of normal instead of the 1/2 I planned/was prepared for, and Phase 2 probably isn’t going to happen for a while. So, while I was hoping to bring empirical data to bear for this question, I’m afraid I cannot. Even so, I have some thoughts, and some experiences to draw on that I’d like to share.

There was a time when I thought that I wanted multiple sexual encounters with my wife every day. That is what I was expecting going into marriage, and wow, was reality a wake-up-call! Those that have visited my blog or know me from The Marriage Bed forums may know that my marriage had a pretty rocky start with no shortage of blame on either side. But a few years ago we took a huge step, worked through a lot of issues, did a lot of communicating, and turned our marriage around. After that, it felt like a new marriage. We finally got the honeymoon phase we had missed when we got married. We actually had sex 9 out of every 10 days for a month. We changed the culture in our marriage for a time. Instead of wondering “are we going to have sex tonight,” we assumed we would. This was amazing for me, but exhausting for my wife whose sex drive still didn’t (and doesn’t) match mine. During our talks, my wife had made a promise that she would never say “no” again when it came to sex. In all honesty, I don’t think I believed her, and so I squeezed every chance I could get out of it, and she didn’t fight me. I think part of me was taking my fill while it was available (thinking it would run out), and part was testing her to see if she meant it. Neither was a very good response from me.

Eventually though, things slowed down. We went down to 4 out of every 5 nights. Why did it slow down? My wife still wasn’t saying no, though later she did tell me she couldn’t have kept that pace up much longer anyway, regardless of any promise she made. I believe it slowed down because sex was becoming, not empty, or cheap, but it was watering down slowly. Now, I’m not saying that a couple can’t have sex every night have amazing experiences and connect intimately with each other. I’m saying that for me, and I’d guess many others, there is a law of diminishing returns when you start pushing frequency to its extreme, in either direction. Let me explain:

If you have an extremely high frequency of sexual encounters (let’s say every day or more for example), for most people, sex will lose its “specialness.”  It won’t be “that thing I only do with my spouse and it helps us to reconnect,” it will be “that thing we do all the time.”

On the other side, if you have an extremely low frequency, let’s say a few times a year or less, sex turns from “that thing I only do with my spouse and it helps us to reconnect” into “that thing we’re supposed to be doing more often, but we don’t, because my spouse is selfish.”

I should point out that I’m talking about long term trends here. If you both decide to take a break from sex for a time (medical reasons, fasting & prayer, birth of a child, physical separation), I don’t think that’s an issue, so long as both agree and it’s not too long of a time. On the other side, if you both agree that you’re going to have sex every night (vacation, birthday gift, anniversary, or just a surprise), I don’t think that’s an issue either, so long as you both agree, and it’s not too long of a time. I won’t say how long is too long, that’s for the couple to find out and decide.

However, I think there are some near universal constants.

On the high-frequency side: If you’re having so much sex that it is causing detriment to your life, your work, or your other relationships, it’s probably too frequent.

On the low-frequency side: As J has mentioned in a previous article, and I agree, a couple should get together (except in extreme circumstances) at least once a week.

She made a good case, and I suggest you read it if you haven’t already.

Go on.

I’ll wait.

Done? OK. I wanted to add one point to it. The rabbis that lived during the New Testament and prior to that were of the mindset that a minimum frequency was once a week. Now, since Paul was a Pharisee, and a Rabbi, he would have had the same thoughts on this topic. So when he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians and the famous passage every Christian marriage blogger knows:

“Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” – 1 Corinthians 7:5

In Paul’s mind, he would assume that his audience would be aware that a week was long enough to go without reconnecting in this way.

So, keeping that all in mind, what’s my answer?

Would I be willing to give up frequency for quality of sex?

Honestly, for myself, no. Why? Because, if I may be so bold: our quality is pretty outstanding from my experience. Is there a difference when we have it less frequently? Yes, unquestionably: Orgasms are stronger, and they happen sooner. But that’s not worth the trade off. I mean, the orgasm is such a small (albeit dramatic) part of the whole experience, and why would I want to shorten sex by that much, I like the buildup, I like the time spent working each other up, and personally, I like longer sessions.

But, if my wife came to me and said “you know, I think I might enjoy sex more if we had it less often,” then, without much delay or disappointment, I’d start discussing what the new frequency would look like, and we’d find something that works for both of us, because this is a marriage. My needs and wants aren’t the only ones that matter, and ultimately, if she is more fulfilled sexually, then I am as well, because I feed off her pleasure, it is what drives me, what really gets me off.

Now, I’ve spent a lot of time reading about sex, writing about sex, and talking to people about sex, and the only thing I can guarantee is that you never find an issue that everyone agrees on. Some people will disagree with me adamantly, some will say that’s exactly how they feel, and if you are a wife reading this, I cannot tell you how your husband will answer. I can only hope I’ve brought up some points that will start a discussion with your spouse, because his answer is the only one you need to concern yourself with. God bless, and have fun figuring out your answer.

This is definitely a good post to start a discussion in your marriage about quality and quantity of sex. Make sure it’s a discussion and not a demand-session, as Jay points out. I really appreciate his approach.

Sex within Marriage logo

Jay is passionate about two topics above all others: theology and sexuality. His blog (www.SexWithinMarriage.com) seeks to explore the nature of sexuality from theological, scientific, and experiential viewpoints in order to help married couples understand their sexuality within the context of Christian marriage.

29 thoughts on “Quantity vs. Quality: What Do Hubbies Want?

  1. happywife

    I had to laugh at your scientific approach to trying to find out the answer to this question.
    Here’s what I see in my marriage. We had fallen into a long-time rut of once-a-week or less sex. And neither of us was enjoying it all that much, although neither of us would have admitted it. I decided to do a little experiment of my own and start initiating sex about every other night, but I didn’t tell my husband what I was doing. We have now fallen into a nice frequency of sex anywhere from 3-5 times a week. A 3/week being a frustrating week of things beyond our control.. we don’t purposely aim for just 3 times, but life happens.
    What I have found, is that sex is best for both of us when no more than 48 hours has passed since the last encounter. More than 3 days really gets shaky. I’m sure there are many more factors contributing (ie: my hormones) but that has been my observation.

    One thing I have found interesting is that on occasion, when we fall in to bed late, I’ll offer my husband a “quickie just for him”. In the past, he would have gladly taken me up on that. But since we have been more active, he actually turns down the “quickie” offers saying, it isn’t nearly as good for him when I’m not in the game, so he’d rather wait until we have more time.
    I also found your comment that ‘orgasms are stronger and happen sooner with less frequency’ interesting. That doesn’t seem to be the case for us. I know for my husband, they might come sooner, but they aren’t nearly as strong. For me as well they are much better with more frequency.
    So, that’s my .02 on the subject. We would not find less sex to be better.

    1. happywife

      it’s not just that we get edgy with each other, but the sex isn’t as good when we’ve let too much time go between.

  2. Anonymous

    Really? going from 9 out of 10 to 4 out of 5 9which is, after all, 8 out of 10) is “slowing down”?

    Get real.

    1. Jay Dee - Sex Within Marriage

      If it makes you feel better, we did settle around 1 out of 2. My point was, despite my intentions and my wife’s promise, the rate of every night was not maintained.

      I understand what your saying though. What I didn’t mention in this post was that the first 8 years of our marriage was basically sexless. I have been in that position too, and when you’re starving for so long, then getting fed every day for a month, to drop down to being fed 4 of 5 days is slowing down, though I understand from some perspectives this might seem a ridiculous statement, from others, it does not.

  3. Paul Byerly

    The quantity vs quality argument, ah yes.

    I think the answer to would you take less to get better quality depends on how much you have. The less you have, the more quantity matters. If you have just enough nasty food to avoid starvation, cutting it at all to get better food is a bad plan. If you have more than enough to avoid starvation, then cutting back for better food seems wise.

  4. Paul Byerly

    “This was amazing for me, but exhausting for my wife whose sex drive still didn’t… match mine. “

    “My wife still wasn’t saying no, though later she did tell me she couldn’t have kept that pace up much longer anyway, regardless of any promise she made. “

    I know many would have felt the same way, and I get why they feel that way, but to me this is a sign of a massive problem, and it’s a not a sexual problem. I see this as one more proof that most of us are doing far too much. If just the two of you lived on a tropical island where your day’s work was spending a leisurely hour or so collecting food for the day, I bet she could have sex daily. I suspect she would even WANT sex that much.

    1. Jay Dee - Sex Within Marriage

      I agree, if the two of us lived on a tropical island, that might be true. But we have 4 children who live with us. Where would they go?

      I understand your point though, it’s not just children that cause this sort of exhaustion. If I didn’t have to drive an hour to work and back to support my family, perhaps I could be home and help out more (though I do my best to be at work by 6 am and back home by 3 or 4 pm at the latest to help out). But our lives these days are very busy. There is too much activity without sense, too much stuff without need. Too much wasted time without relaxation. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and simplify.

      “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” – 2 Corinthians 1:12

    2. Anonymous

      I find it amazing that there are men (I’m sure women too) who want sex everyday of nearly so for most of their marriage. There have been times when my husband and I have had sex everyday for a week straight, but that’s definitely not the norm.

      I have found that, like Jay said, sex does get watered down if we have it everyday for a long time. That is not to say that I would not LOVE for my husband to pursue me most days of the week. That would be awesome. My husband is a guy’s guy. He just gets sapped by stress. I don’t as much, not do I need as much sleep. We have seven kids, so not only is he gone for almost 12 hours a day for work and commuting, we have a big family to take care of (which we love, we just don’t get much time alone). My husband can relax enough for sex about once a week, twice if we’re lucky. I would love for him to want me (notice that I want him to want me more than I want the actual act) about 3 times a week. Our times together tend to be fewer but are often mind-blowing (if we have enough time for me to have an orgasm). So for us quality is best if quantity is not the goal, but also does not suffer (like when we go two weeks without it, resulting in a very quick encounter).

  5. Anonymous

    I have to disagree with Paul above.
    Even as a higher drive wife, and mentally wanting it at least every other day, my body literally cannot take daily sex indefinitely. My husband and I have done daily sex, and honestly, after about 8ish days in a row I am sore and tired down there. I can want it mentally but there are times when my body really can’t take any more. It isn’t about too much stress or “busy stuff” physically my soft girly part tissues just plain get sore and tired, and then sex can be a chore or even painful if I don’t take a break. It is amazing what 24 hours can do for that soreness and then I am ready to go again for a few days.

    1. Anonymous

      Yes! The girly parts! I am the higher drive wife too, but it just gets plain uncomfortable after awhile, even doing all the right things. Scar tissue from births can also get irritated.

    2. Anonymous

      Original Anon here,
      My husband only likes (PIV sex) and will only take other options as a last resort, like say after a baby has been born. Otherwise he will wait 10-12 days sometimes(family planning measures) before an ejaculation.

  6. Andrew

    I suppose one’s answer to this question has a lot to do with one’s environment. Coming from an environment where we have sex approximately once a month, there is no way on God’s green earth that I would agree to less frequent sex for any reason. If I may offer an analogy, If my only choice for food was between a once a month Filet Mignon along with a full course dinner or a single slice of ordinary cheese pizza 3-5 times a week, I will take the pizza EVERY time.

    As fathers, we are cautioned against using the quality vs quantity argument when it comes to making excuses for not spending time with our kids. We are told that saying “well… what time I DO spend with them is real quality time” is no excuse for brushing them off them much of the time. I once heard a christian speaker say on the subject of spending time with our kids that quantity IS quality.

    I say the same is true for marital sex. Unless you are ALREADY having daily sex, quality is quantity. Period.

    That said, I agree with happywife’s husband that its no where NEAR as good if she is not “in the game”. But, when the time between matches is so far apart, one does not have the luxury of waiting till the circumstances are ideal.

    1. Jay Dee - Sex Within Marriage

      Yeah, I agree, I’ve been in that “approximately once a month” scenario. There are topics that are appropriate at different stages of your growth as a couple. This topic is not useful for the “once a month” or sexually starving couples. This is too…”advanced” along the path. The discussion for those couples would need to be about giving to each other, about serving, about your body belonging to your spouse.

      Likewise, if you have an abusive (emotional or otherwise) relationship, there are discussions that need to happen first, about respect, boundaries, etc.

      I know some people will look at this post and thing “he’s insane to even be contemplating something like that!” But remember, we’re all at different places in our marriage. If I had read this 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have gotten past the first couple of paragraphs, because it wouldn’t have been for me. Now, this is some I write! So, perhaps in 2, 5, 10, who-knows-how-many years, this might be something of value for you.

  7. Grace Pamer

    As my mother always used to say about just about any subject “everything in moderation”. Its one of those old motherly pieces of advice that, whilst annoying to hear throughout your life, actually bears up as being so true.

    We’ve had periods where sex was every day and after a while it does become slightly impersonal, like another chore that needs doing, a routine that needs to be ticked off the list. Once we recognized that and really committed when we felt really up for it the passion came flying back. Healthy and regular is the new motto.

    Great piece Jay and thanks J for introducing his blog and writing.
    Grace

    1. Jay Dee - Sex Within Marriage

      Thanks Grace, glad you like it! Now, I’m afraid I’d argue that “everything in moderation” is not a good piece of advice. There are so many things that are detrimental in little bits, and in fact, using them “in moderation” can lead to “not-so-moderate” behavior.

      This teaching (particularly within Christian circles) has always troubled me. There are so many times in the Bible where it is clear that you should 100% abstain from so many things, or the consequences could be dire.

      For example: In the Bible, nearly every mention of alcohol comes with a warning that it can control your life, make you a fool, cause you to stumble, etc, etc. But we see very prevalent in the church that alcohol “in moderation” is OK. This has turned into a teaching that getting drunk “in moderation” (once in a while) is OK (which is NEVER condoned in the Bible). I’m waiting (in trepidation) for the day when it becomes ok to be drunk in moderation while in a church service, or while running the nursery, or we start serving alcohol at youth events “in moderation”.

      Just my rant about moderation, don’t mind me.

  8. Anonymous

    Sex should be happening as often as the higher drive spouse desires. Likewise communication (or whatever else is the top priority need for the other spouse) should happen as often as that spouse desires. We would never have a discussion about whether or not it was okay for one spouse (usually the husband) to offer to talk to the other spouse only three times per week, or once a month, or say “I just don’t feel like it certain times of the moth.” Likewise, we often hear that the couple’s sexual practices should only go as far as the more conservative spouse is comfortable with. Would we apply this to conversation? If one spouse isn’t comfortable talking about the kids, or money, or work is it okay to say, ” I won’t talk about that with you” the way we condone “I won’t do that thing you like”? Not complaining, I’m actually very happy with our sex life, I just don’t get that double standard many apply to the sexual needs and desires of the higher drive spouse.

    1. J

      I would stop short of “as often as the higher spouse desires”–with both sex and communication honestly. Being married to someone who is less conversant, I have learned that sometimes my hubby can ask to postpone a conversation until a time when he can really focus on me and my words. In turn, he’d prefer (okay, we’d both prefer) to make love when we are able to focus on that.

      Of course it’s not okay to deny, and I actually tend to agree with the analogy of conversation and sex. I just think all of these things work best with give-and-take. Unfortunately, though, I hear of plenty of marriages where there is way too little give in the sex department, and the relationship would indeed be better served with greater frequency.

    2. K.

      and the relationship would indeed be better served with greater frequency.

      As someone who has recently experienced this in our renewed marriage of 30 years where sex is an everyday thing in some form or fashion (I’m the wifey from the comments below), I would wholeheartedly agree that more is better for the relationship to thrive. My husband truly feels loved by me because I am so giving in the sex department. I never deny him and it makes me very happy to be available to him any time he wants me. It’s a gift I can give him daily and our relationship has blossomed in an amazing way because of my availability to him. At this point we seem to both be high drive (I was high drive when I was younger and it has come back! Woot!), so that makes it easier, but I had almost no desire not that long ago. It’s true that sex begets sex. Be available and you will get to where you hope he wants it a lot more. If it happened to me it can happen to anyone. My husband is VERY happy in our relationship because of all the intimate moments we have (not just with the sex, but also with talking about our relationship while snuggling) and says so often. He calls me his best friend! That’s what making myself available has wrought in my marriage. It’s a beautiful thing!

      P.S. Giving my first initial just to distinguish myself from all the other anonymous commenters.

  9. Anonymous

    My wife and I experienced a sort of re-awakening of our whole relationship about 3 months ago, including dramatically increased sex. We went from an average of about twice a month (for many years) to, I kid you not, twice a day (AVERAGE,sometimes it’s three or more!). It’s been like this for about 10 weeks non-stop. No, it’s not always intercourse, and orgasm’s are only about every 2-3 days (for me, although I’ve hit it daily several times, and about once a week for her), but it always involves lots of naked touching,fondling, and usually oral. Prior to this, I would have been thrilled with once a week, and to be honest, could not ever IMAGINE having the stamina and drive to engage in daily sex, let alone twice daily. Even now, when we go to bed, I may not necessarily “feel” like sex, but almost without fail, once she comes to bed, and I embrace and kiss and touch her, I suddenly come alive and am ready to get going again!

    So to anyone who thinks they just couldn’t handle any more frequency, I’d say “try it!” Just jump in (with a proper, enthusiastic attitude, of course), and you may surprise yourself!

    Oh, btw, I’m 56, wifey is 51. I’m hoping to keep up this pace for another 20-30 years.

    1. Paul Byerly

      It is interesting what “sex” can be, especially if we are not in our 20’s. Sex need not include orgasm for both, or either. It need not include intercourse. Or it can be all of the above.

    2. Anonymous

      Hi, this is the wifey of Mr. Anonymous. What he didn’t tell you is that we’ve been married for 30 years.

      We had a good sex life, originally, but as kids came along and then we got older it just kind of fell by the wayside with sex being a very small part of our lives I’m sorry to say. He was never pushy or demanding and I truly was clueless that he wanted more, mainly because he was so quiet about his wishes. We almost always climaxed together when we did have sex, so it was very satisfying in that respect. But we weren’t as intimate spiritually or emotionally as we could’ve been.

      Then, “by chance” through wandering around on Pinterest (praise God for Pinterest!!) I found Sheila Gregoire and her blog and read this post and man! my eyes were opened to how my husband truly feels about sex. I was so thrilled to have discovered this post, as it revolutionized our marriage.

      All of a sudden I saw my husband (and men, in general) in a different light. I had always thought that men only cared about sex for getting off. That it didn’t matter to them how we felt except to give them what they wanted – that it was all about them, a selfish desire. I know a lot of women think that. And that may be true for some men, which is probably why a lot of women think that. It’s what they experience. And since men don’t generally feel comfortable talking about these things we women remain otherwise clueless.

      I also figured he wasn’t very attracted to me anymore because of how little he initiated sex. We usually only did it after we went to sleep and woke up in the middle of the night (and always making love in the dark). It made me feel like I was only interesting enough when he couldn’t stand to wait any longer. Little did I know….

      That post and others in her series, and eventually Sheila’s e-book 31 Days to Great Sex opened up a whole new world to me/us and we are experiencing true intimacy on every level and amazing sex! And with the help of male bloggers like you, Paul, and J on the women’s side we are learning so much good stuff to enhance our relationship. We just purchased Kevin Leman’s book, Sheet Music and are now enjoying it as well. My hubby took his advice on giving me oral sex (a favorite activity of ours) and was able to…well…let’s just say I think I got a glimpse of heaven!

      Thank God for all of you Christian sex educators out there bringing this information to us. What a blessing you all are! Truly!

      Btw, my husband has been desperately wanting to share how amazing our sex life is now that things have changed, but it’s not something that you can easily work into a conversation! lol So we appreciate this opportunity to let it be known that through God answering our prayers (his that he and I would be in sync, sexually, and mine that I would please my husband), we are experiencing a rebirth that neither of us could’ve ever fathomed. God answers prayers, especially when both spouses are praying for each other.

      And Paul, you’re right. We consider whatever we do to/with each other naked to be considered sex. In fact, let me encourage others to try sleeping naked together every night. It’s amazingly erotic and makes for lots more opportunities for intimacy!

    3. J

      Good heavens! Can we just get this Anonymous couple to run this blog for a couple of weeks? LOL. I love their input! Thank you for sharing.

      (And yeah, Sheila & Paul are pretty awesome, and I’m honored to be in any list with them.)

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