Now you can have an informed discussion about this age-old couples conundrum, with data from a new study to be published in the August issue of The Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization .
Here's how they conducted the study, as reported on the Well Blog of the New York Times: 64 adult couples, all married and heterosexual, completed questionnaires about how often they had sex, how enjoyable it was and how happy they were in general. Half the couples were then told to maintain their sex lives as usual. The other half were told to double the amount of sex they had. If they had sex once a week, make it twice; couples who had sex three times a week were to up it to six. For the length of the study (90 days), the couples completed online questionnaires about the amount and quality of their sex the previous day and their moods.
The results? For those who doubled the amount of sex in their marriages (the average increase was 40 percent), the additional sex did not make them happier. Their well-being, energy, and enthusiasm declined, as did the quality of the sex. Both men and women reported that the additional intercourse wasn't much fun.
"It seems that if you're having sex for a reason other than because you like and want sex," explains study leader George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, you run the chance of undermining the quality of the sex and your mood.
Lowenestein's advice for happiness? Focus on the quality of your sexual experiences together, not the quantity. It's the pleasure of the sexual act that raises your mood, not the frequency of getting it on.
Allison Moir-Smith, MA, is a bridal counselor, creator of How Brides-To-Be REALLY Feel videos, and author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the "Happiest" Time of Her Life.