The Challenge of the Familiar
There is a basic assumption and a paradox in most married sexuality. First, that true love means each partner will find the other “enough” to satisfy his sexual needs for the duration of the marriage. In other words, despite the constant and nearly equal incidence of infidelity among married men and women, most couples believe they are signing up for monogamy when they marry. Operating on this assumption, they either adjust behavior to look but not indulge in sex outside of marriage or they cheat. From this assumption also comes the paradox: that with familiarity the original sexual attraction that drew the two of you together can fade rapidly. What is any married couple to do?
First, it helps to acknowledge the obvious. You are not the first and will not be the last couple to face this situation. When you're dating, and before you live together as a couple, it's easy to look your best on date night, to keep your nasty moods outside of your partner's presence, and to arrange time to be alone without asking anyone's permission. This all changes with marriage and a loss of sexual excitement is often its collateral damage. However, if the feelings accompanying these dynamics — resentment, fear, jealousy, boredom — were to be discussed honestly and frequently with your partner, there is no doubt that the damage can be minimized.
Sex means different things and functions differently for men and women. According to John Gray in Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, “It is sex that allows a man to feel his need for love, while it is receiving love that helps a woman to feel her hunger for sex.”
The Frequency Debate
The main issue a therapist confronts when discussing sexuality in marriage concerns is the frequency of sex. In his therapy practice, Stephen Martin has asked thousands of couples this question, “If you could have it your way, how often would you and your partner have sex?” In his clients' answers, he finds that the majority of men say once or twice a day, while the majority of women say once a week. Herein he says lies the potential problem, unless the issue of frequency of sex is discussed and a compromise found.