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If You're Having WAY Less Sex Than You Used To, You're Not Alone — Here's Why

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why people have less sex

And what you need to do about it.

Are you having less sex now than you did a few years ago?  

If so, you're not alone. A recent study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior shows that the average American adult had sex nearly 9 times less often annually from 2010 to 2014 then from 2000 to 2004. 

There is no optimal degree of intimacy for all couples, as every relationship and each individual is emotionally and physiologically unique. However, while not necessary, sex is beneficial in a number of ways, both emotional and physical. Sex releases endorphins that improve mood and well-being. Physical intimacy also enhances our sense of connection and relatedness.

Why is sex less of a priority now than it used to be?

One of the main factors that can affect sexual feelings is stress.

Research shows that more people in the last five to ten years are experiencing increased levels of stress, both personal and financial. When stressed, we don't usually have the desire or energy for sexual activity.

Such financial woes are all too common these days. The 2009 State of our Union report by the National Marriage Project indicates that many couples were hit hard by the 2008 recession. Given continued economic turmoil, it is not surprising that financial challenges like unemployment, mounting credit card debt, even bankruptcy or foreclosure, have affected individuals and couples in record numbers. 

What makes matters worse is that you may blame your partner for your financial stress, rather than the economic forces in society, and take out your frustrations on each other. As these negative emotions build up, they may lead to severe emotional and physical distress. Often you may deal with that stress by avoiding sex with your partner.

Many couples now are in dual-career marriages. That can make it increasingly difficult to find time for sex with each other. When one of you is interested in being intimate, the other one often is not, which may result in anger or frustration and feelings of being unappreciated for the job you were doing and the income it generates.

The combination of unrequited desire and frustration may eventually give way to lack of attraction or interest. This situation is prevalent for many couples. An estimated 40% to 50% of both men and women in the US report sexual apathy, with working couples much more likely to experience this lack of desire (Davidowitz, 1992).

If you have been working hard all day, it is difficult to switch gears to be tender and passionate lovers when you get home.

Financial stress may also lead to both partners working more and being exhausted.

Sex takes energy, and if you are exhausted you may not have the desire or energy to engage in any physical activity Physical exhaustion and sleep deprivation are stressors for couples these days. When one or both of you are tired from a long day, little energy may be left for quality time together, let alone for sex.

Without adequate sleep, you may not want to have sex. Your fatigue may even affect your ability to perform sexually and can be a cause of sexual dysfunction.

As the old saying goes, if you don't use it, you may lose it. And the longer you go without having sex the more you may get accustomed to not having it at all. You may stop trying, and then the frustration my build up even more.

Sexless marriage is more common these days, especially in long-term relationships. It takes something to keep the sexual flames burning.

Without some intention to create excitement and variety, the flame may become extinguished. Also, the general population is aging, which may account for some of the statistics about the decrease in the frequency of sex in the last several years.

Susan and Dave, a couple with three children, had difficulty making quality time for each other because one of them worked during the week and the other worked on weekends. They finally worked out an agreement to schedule time when they were both home and feeling enough energy to have sex. That arrangement seemed to work fine until one of their children became involved with drugs, adding so much stress to their lives that they stopped making sex a priority.

We live in difficult and complex times now, and perhaps things like the drug culture are making it even more difficult for couples to prioritize sex in their lives.

Whatever the reason, talking with your partner about your sexual desires, whatever they may be, is useful.

Just sharing where you are at without making it wrong or judging it will give you a place to start.

If you decide that you want to have more sexual contact, it will take making it a priority in your lives.

Making some agreements and creating intentions about specific times to have sex is helpful. It may not sound very romantic, but it may be what it takes.

You'll find that once you are together, it won't matter how you got there. Just do it!

To learn more about how to cooperate with your partner and work together powerfully as a team, see our book Lifelong Love: 4 Steps To Creating and Maintaining An Extraordinary Relationship or go to our website www.couplepower.com