How often should you and your spouse have sex?
As often as it takes for you both to feel satisfied—which, according to a 2015 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, is about once a week for most happily married couples.
Of course, you and your partner might have sex more often than this, which is great. Just know you don’t have to hold yourselves to the extreme standard of once-per-day lovemaking ad infinitum.
No matter what your preferred frequency is, you probably aren’t surprising to hear that having sex with your spouse is good for your marriage. A healthy amount of regular sexual intimacy—an amount that’s different for every couple—strengthens your bond and helps each of you feel more fulfilled and connected.
But what happens if you’re not in the mood when your spouse starts giving you those bedroom eyes? After all, you love your partner and want them to feel satisfied…but you may just be too exhausted, stressed, or distracted to play.
To be clear: saying “no” is always an option. But it’s not the only option. Keep reading for five things you can try the next time your partner is feeling frisky and you’re not.
5 Things to Do When Your Partner Is In the Mood…and You Aren’t
1. When You Can, Say Yes Anyway
Heading to the bedroom (or elsewhere) even when you’re not yet “in the mood” can actually get you in the mood. And even if you don’t end up super turned on, you can still find satisfaction in pleasing your partner.
In these cases, try thinking about sex not as a task you have to get done but as an act of love you’re doing for your spouse. Focus on their pleasure and make it your mission to help them feel amazing. It feels good to see your partner feeling good—and remember, your loving act can strengthen your relationship, too. Win-win!
Let your partner know a little extra foreplay (and maybe some extra lubrication) will help here. Just don’t say yes if you can’t muster up the energy to act as if you’re really enjoying yourself. Your loving spouse will not feel good about having sex with an unwilling partner.
2. Pencil it In Later (And Stick To It)
While spontaneously agreeing to sexual intimacy is always appreciated by a ready-to-go spouse, it’s okay to defer the lovemaking sometimes. Far from being a tease, asking your partner to wait until later can add to the excitement for both of you.
An important caveat:
If you do use this approach, be sure to show up at the agreed upon time! Treat your lovemaking session like an appointment you wouldn’t miss. Continually not following through can feel hurtful for your spouse and impair trust.
3. Look for Other Ways to Bond
“Sex” includes a lot of things! If you’re not up for the main show, see if you can bond with your spouse in other ways. You can:
- Offer a massage or foot rub
- Make your spouse a special meal or cocktail
- Go for a walk together
- Take a shower together
- Have an intimate conversation
- Watch a funny show while holding hands
Don’t be surprised if the quality time and emotional connection turns you on after all—this kind of bonding paves the way for sexual arousal in many people. And even if it doesn’t you’ll still be spending intimate time together, a net plus for your relationship.
4. Doll Yourself (And Your Space) Up
Sometimes we don’t feel in the mood because we don’t feel good about ourselves. If you know your partner is ready to go but you’re not, see if you can first woo yourself and create an environment that’s conducive to intimacy. Consider:
- Freshening up and putting on a flattering outfit
- Treating yourself to a glass of wine
- Cleaning up the bedroom (make the bed and get rid of laundry, work, kids’ toys, and anything else that doesn’t communicate “sexy”)
- Putting on sensual music, lighting candles, or doing anything else to “set the mood”
5. Be Honest and Understanding
Both you and your partner deserve to have your needs met, and as individuals your needs won’t always be perfectly aligned. This can create friction sometimes, which is okay. Talk to each other about what your needs and expectations are surrounding your sex lives. Be empathetic and try not to take it personally if your spouse expresses frustration when you turn down an offer. At the same time, avoid feeling guilty when you sometimes just need to say no.
Lastly, if sexual incompatibility frequently leaves you spinning your wheels, talk to a marriage counselor who can help you both feel more intimately and emotionally in sync.
Are You Feeling a Lack of Intimacy in Your Marriage?