I did a bit of supervision the other day with a therapist who was asking about a couple she was working with.
This couple thought they had a sex problem with what the DSM calls the Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. This is a significant absence of sexual desire that causes distress. This couple did it about once every couple of months which means statistically they were much less than average and they thought that is was a sign of a failing marriage. Both parties had quite low libidos.
So what is the average? For Australians it is:
18 - 24 years = 3.25 times per week
25 - 34 years = 2.55 times per week
35 - 44 years = 2.00 times per week
45+ years = 1.00 times per week
(OK! Enough with the jokes about doing it 0.25 times.)
I have always wondered how they get these statistics. Is it like a street side interview? There you are walking in a local shopping centre and you are approached by a heavily bespectacled woman, who’s hair is bound tightly back, she is in a white lab coat, carrying a clip board and she asks you how often do you do it?
And once the statistics are obtained how reliable are they? Lets face it guys may tend to exaggerate. When asked how often they do it they may huff and puff a bit, push their chest out and say they get ‘on the job’ everyday.
As we know when men get together and discuss their sexual exploits with the fairer sex they are prone to exaggeration. The general rule of thumb is take what they guy claims happened, divide it by 2 and you are probably some where near the truth. If he says he met a woman in bar last night, took her to his apartment and scored a home run that means he probably got to second base.
However the statistics don’t really mean anything when it comes to an individual couple. If they do it once every couple of months then they are very below the statistical average but what one is really looking for is how equal are their libidos. One is hoping for a relatively similar level of libido between then husband and wife. If their libidos are both low, both medium or both high then they do not have a sex problem at least in terms of desire.
If one has a low libido and one has a high libido then they have a significant relationship problem that can easily cause significant damage to their relationship.
Sex is usually a very Free Child to Free Child transaction. Sex that is good for a relationship is this even though people can have sex in other ego states. However if the desire for sexual activity is very different between husband and wife then they do have a relationship problem. If he has a high libido and she has a low libido then what happens when he requests sex.
If she says ‘yes’ when she wants to say ‘no’, then one problem is solved and another problem is created. His FC feels satisfied and her FC feels hurt. If this happens repetitively then her hurt FC will cause relationship difficulties and thus they both suffer.
If she say ‘no’ when she wants to say ‘no’ then one problem is solved and another problem is created. Her FC feels satisfied and his FC feels hurt. If this happens repetitively then his hurt FC will cause relationship difficulties and thus they both suffer.
When this happens sex can easily get entangled with power, punishment of the other party and so forth and by that time the relationship can start to get into very troubled waters.
So what is meant to happen according to the counselling textbooks? Well try before you buy may be a good idea. If a person is very sexually driven then it might be a good idea to seek a partner who is a little bit similar. Of course that is easier said then done once love gets involved.
As with so many relationship difficulties a bit of compromise on both sides can go along way. Satisfying sex does not have to involve intercourse, which is also a common solution if one party has herpes. So being a bit creative and coming up sexual activity that is reasonably acceptable to both parties such that both FCs can feel OK. Then the damage that could be caused to the relationship can be avoided.