Would Always Saying ‘Yes’ to Sex Prevent Divorce?

“If women would just say yes whenever the guy asks, there’d be no divorce.” My husband says he’s joking whenever he says this, but his comments get me thinking. Is sex the key to keeping a marriage alive?

I turn my thoughts to my friend’s relationships, the ones that aren’t going well in particular. Sex seems to be a key factor in the demise of these relationships, but certainly not the only reason these marriages ended. But still, I can’t help but wonder if a healthy sex life is the key to a healthy marriage.

Then I think about my own marriage. We’ve been together for 14 years. There have been the good years, the challenging years, and the years where we were just coasting along, content but not totally happy. When I think about those challenging years, there was certainly a lot more strain on our relationship than just not enough sex. I can’t deny, however, that whenever there is a strain on our relationship sex is the first thing to go.

After thinking it through further, I ask my husband what he really means by his statement. “Do you really think a woman not wanting to have sex as often as her husband does is the sole reason marriages end?” I ask. He clarifies, suggesting that’s not what he means. “But,” he says, “I do think that if a man feels like he’s having sex as often as he wants, he has very little other reason to be unhappy in his marriage.”

I think his theory is an over-simplification, but there’s something to it. Sex is often a negotiation in a marriage with one partner, usually the man, wanting it more often than his wife. So if the key to a happier relationship is simply saying yes more often, why don’t we women say yes more often? Do we really want it less than our husbands or are there other factors coming into play?

Using myself as an example, I’ll admit that I don’t say yes as often as my husband wants because I have what seems like a list of 10,000 other things that need to get done. I’m solely responsible for everything on that list and sex feels like a frivolous use of my time. So while it sounds unromantic to say, “Sorry hon I can’t right now. I’ve got to order 13 birthday gifts for the kids’ upcoming parties, buy snow clothes for the kids online, and fold those four loads of laundry that are sitting downstairs,” that’s exactly what I’m thinking.

And for myself, and probably most moms, there’s also the “I just need a little break from being needed,” thing that goes through our minds when the hubs says, “Hey let’s get busy” the minute the kids go to bed. Ask me in 10 minutes, I’m interested. Ask me the minute I’ve put the kids to bed and I just don’t want anyone asking me for anything, even sex, and I’m less inclined to say yes. And I might quite possibly feel resentful that he didn’t notice.

So maybe the key to a happy marriage isn’t the husband having sex whenever he wants, it’s both parties feeling like the other is connecting in the way that person needs to connect. I might be more inclined to say yes when my husband initiates sex if he was more likely to help me knock a few things off that list of 10,000 that never seems to end. He might be more inclined to help me out, if he also felt satisfied in the ways he needs. The key to a happy marriage means a healthy partnership, which includes a healthy sex life with both parties saying yes to each other’s needs.

No matter what, the thought of getting a divorce terrifies me. Having sex more often won’t fix a broken marriage, but it can certainly help a relationship stay on track. So I’m going to try to say yes a lot more often and I’m also going to stop thinking of sex as a frivolous use of my time. If it’s important to my husband, I’m going to make it important to me.  Plus saying yes to sex more often means I get to have sex more often. Could be worse, right?

Photo: Getty