Are you having enough sex? You might have wondered if you should up your bedroom activity after reading about other couples' resolutions to have sex every day or about all the health benefits of getting horizontal.
In what might be welcome news for everyone exhausted from work and frazzled from kids, research suggests you don't have to get down every day to reap the rewards of sex, at least in terms of happiness and relationship closeness.
A recent study found that, although married people or people in committed relationships who had more sex tended to report feeling happier, the benefit leveled off at a sexual frequency of once a week. Those who said they did the deed four or more times a week did not report feeling any happier than those who had trysts only weekly.
"I do think couples can end up feeling pressure to try to engage in sex as frequently as possible," said Amy Muise, a postdoctoral researcher studying sexual relationships at Dalhousie University in Canada. Once a week "is maybe a more realistic goal to set than thinking you have to have sex everyday and that feels overwhelming and you avoid it," said Muise, who is lead author of the study, which was published in November in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
The study found that sex could boost happiness because it makes people feel more satisfied in their relationship, based on survey data from two separate cohorts, including 2,400 married couples in the U.S. National Survey of Families and Households.
"For people in relationships, their romantic relationship quality is one of the biggest predictors of their overall happiness," Muise said. "Having sex more than once a week might not be enhancing that (relationship connection), although it is not bad."
However, there are a couple of rubs with this research, Muise said. One is that it is not clear which came first, sex or happiness. It may be that people who have sex once a week or more were happier in their relationship and life to begin with, and not that the sex helped make them happy. Or both may be true: Sex enhances happiness and happiness enhances sex.
The other catch is that, although a weekly romp might be just what some people need, it might be too much or too little for others. "Certainly there are couples for whom having sex less frequently will be fine for their happiness, and there are couples who will get increases in happiness if they have sex more than once a week," Muise said.