We are a heterosexual couple, and have different levels of desire
Men & Women are different
Over and over again, research tells us that men think about sex more often than women. Generally speaking, men have higher sex drives and enjoy more variety. There is a biological reason for this. The chemical responsible is testosterone and men have 20-40 times more of the stuff than women do. And, perhaps more importantly, men's testosterone levels stay at pretty much the same throughout their life. But for women, testosterone levels are dramatically affected by their monthly period and also by having children.
Not only is the male sex drive higher, but it also tends to be more 'assertive'. Again, this is because of testosterone which by nature is a proactive chemical. Female sex drive is influenced by oestrogen as well as testosterone. Unlike the 'assertive' drive of testosterone, oestrogen is more receptive. That doesn't mean it's passive - but that it tends to make female sexuality more receptive and seductive.
However, because levels of oestrogen change over their monthly menstrual cycle, a woman's sex drive is much more complicated than a man's and can change dramatically over the month. Research also indicates that women have different motivations for sex. Whilst men's drive is often physical, women may also want sex as a way of expressing intimacy or pleasing a partner.
In the early days of a relationship both men and women tend to have much higher sex drives. Evolutionary psychologists believe this is important for 'pair bonding' - building the connection between you. But over time, sex drive falls - particularly for women. This is often confusing for both men and women. Men can feel betrayed and rejected by their former 'sex-kitten' partner and fear that not wanting sex as often means there is a problem in the relationship. Women too can wonder if it means that they don't love their partner as much as they used to. But in reality, these changes in desire are just a natural course of events in any couple relationship.
Differences in desire - making it work
There is no 'right' number of times that you should have sex in a relationship. If one of you would like sex every day and the other is happy with once a fortnight - you are both normal. If you have different desires, then compromise and negotiation are the solution. Many couples find they slip into a negative pattern where the partner with the higher libido is regularly asking for sex and being rejected. The person with the lower libido can also slip into the habit of avoiding physical contact unless they're in the mood for sex because they're frightened that it will give off the wrong signals.
Even if you're not going to have sex, it's really important that you continue to be affectionate and sensual. When you commit to creating a tender, loving environment, sex is more likely to happen naturally. Some couples agree 'sex free' days so they know they can fully enjoy being close knowing it won't lead to sex.
How Relate can help:
If problems in your sex life are affecting your relationship then you can make an appointment to see a Relate sex therapist. They will work with you and your partner to help you to build a mutually satisfying sexual relationship. Click here to find your nearest Relate.