Does Good Sex Equal A Good Relationship?

Understanding how sex can make your relationship stronger.

While we may not all have the luxury of trading sleep for sex like Victoria Beckham, that doesn’t mean we aren’t burning up the sheets. So just how much action are we getting, and is it enough to keep our marriage alive?

Is being happy in bed the key to a happy marriage? Ask most relationship experts and they will answer in the affirmative.

“Good sex is very much related to trust, friendship and all aspects of a relationship that create and build emotional connection,” explains Ho Shee Wai, a psychologist and director of The Counselling Place. Sex is an expression of the intimacy between a couple, as you can’t get any closer, at least physically, to another person, she adds. “So if you feel good about your sex life, then you’ll feel good about your relationship in general.”

So where does the frequency of sex come in? And does it wane depending on how long you’ve been together? Must you have sex a certain number of times a month for your sex life to be considered ‘good’? If you have sex more often than your friends, does that make you happier? What’s considered good sex, anyway?

What is good sex?

Shee Wai says good sex reflects your emotional connection with your spouse, and the affection and respect you have for each other.

“If you and/or your husband don’t feel good about the interaction, then you can probably define it as poor-quality sex. But we encourage couples to look at sex more broadly – that means seeing it as encompassing gestures like kissing, hugging, holding hands and snuggling.”

Is there an ideal number?

“We’ve been conditioned to think: the more sex the better. But there are no rules or formulas when it comes to sex frequency,” says Shee Wai. It’s up to you and your husband to decide how much sex is enough to satisfy you, she adds.

What typically affects a couple’s sex life are factors such as age, lifestyle, sex drive, health and the quality of the relationship. It can also fluctuate depending on the phase of life you’re in, explains Jessica Lamb, a psychotherapist and founder of Relationship Matters, a centre that offers counselling to couples.

“The frequency of sexual intimacy is a very personal thing and fluctuates throughout your life. For instance, many couples who had sex three or four times a week at the start may have sex once or twice a week after a few years as a more secure and comfortable connection develops.”

“Often, when children come along, a couple’s sex life takes a back seat – it can become harder to prioritise sexual intimacy when one or both partners are tired, stressed or busy with family and work commitments,” says Jessica.

Want more sex? Ask for it

Never compare your sex life to that of your friends, advises Jessica. This will only cause anxiety, confusion and resentment. If you are unhappy with how often you’re having sex, talk about your needs with your spouse and what sexual intimacy means to each of you.

“The frequency of sexual activity, or lack of it, interferes with your quality of life. It might become a contentious topic in your relationship or affect your ability to be intimate with your partner,” Shee Wai explains.

Approach the subject delicately so it doesn’t come across as you attacking him or placing the blame on him. It’s also important to “find out if your husband is stressed and what’s taking up his energy and attention”, Jessica advises. “If you can help him de-stress or relax, he might be more receptive to sex.”

Dangers of a sexless relationship

“Most sex therapists agree that if you’re having sex less than 10 times a year, your relationship can be labelled ‘sexless’,” says Shee Wai. “But a lack of sex doesn’t always spell trouble for a relationship. What matters is that both of you are satisfied with the frequency. That being said, when couples stop having sex, feelings of anger and disappointment may set in and they may become emotionally detached, which may hurt the marriage in the long run.”

This article first appeared in Her World Malaysia, May 2017