Alibaba founder Jack Ma recently hit headlines after claiming married couples should have sex six times a week.
“We want 669 in life. What is 669? Six times in six days; the emphasis is on nine,” the Chinese business magnate told employees during a group marital ceremony, referring to sex.
Of course, Ma is not relationships expert, and the comments were made during a lighthearted speech. Still, it begs the question: does he have a point? Does almost-daily sex the key to a happier relationship?
On the one hand, a number of studies do suggest those married couples who get it on more often are, on average, more satisfied in their relationship. Plus, sex in general has myriad health benefits, including boosting sleep and brain power.
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However, we know every couple is different – and a good relationship is down to a lot more than what happens between the sheets.
What’s more, it would seem the average British couple are getting down and dirty a lot less than Ma suggests. In fact, a recent study found the majority of Brits have sex less than once a week – and co-habiting and married couples reporting even less.
To settle the question, we spoke to relationship expert Kate Mansfield – and she actually proved very reassuring.
How much sex should couples have?
Sex frequency depends on a number of factors individual to a couple, according to Mansfield.
As for Ma’s prescriptive “six times a week” suggestion, she calls it “ridiculous”.
“A one size fits all approach to couples and sex is ridiculous and given the differences in age, culture, personality type there could never be a set rule for how often a couple should have sex,” she tells Yahoo UK.
However, she did suggest having sex less than once a fortnight could represent “a problem” in a long-established relationship, while going for more than a few months without is “worrying”.
Are couples who have more sex happier?
Not necessarily, says Mansfield.
“Some couples use sex as a glue to mask underlying issues such as lack of commitment and a lack of respect,” she says. “Even abusive relationships can sometimes have high sexual chemistry but nothing else.”
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However, in general, regular sex goes hand in hand with a healthy relationship, she says.
Research shows that couples who engage regularly are happier, more committed, less likely to cheat, and have a much more sustainable long-term relationship life.”
How do you improve your sex life with your partner?
If you’re worried about the amount of sex you are having, or would like to have more, Mansfield recommends working on other parts of your relationship first rather than simply focussing on numbers.
“Good sex most often is something that comes out of high levels of intimacy, connection, and staying emotionally present with your partner,” she explains.
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“Not avoiding conflict and dealing with issues head-on is key to keeping sexual chemistry alive.”
Intimacy doesn’t have to be all about sex, of course.
Simply kissing your partner has been proven to have health benefits including decreasing stress and keeping you happy.