10 Things Economists Can Teach Us About Sex in Marriage

by | Apr 16, 2019 | Libido, Uncategorized | 9 comments

Merchandise is Here!

Is sex too expensive in your marriage?

Don’t worry–I’m not talking about prostitution! I’m actually talking about economics. Today, just for fun, I thought we’d take a look at sex in marriage from an economist’s point of view.

I actually ran this post a few years ago, but I absolutely LOVE it, and it never went very far. So I thought I’d run it again to see if it resonated with any of you!

I’ve taken Economics 101 five times in my life. Once in grade 12. Once in my undergrad. And then I had to take it again for my Master’s (they wouldn’t exempt me). Each time I learned exactly the same thing. Then, when my daughters were taking university courses online when I was homeschooling them, I went through the material first with Rebecca and then with Katie. I have Economics 101 down pat. Unfortunately that’s all I know.

But that obviously makes me eminently qualified to look at sex from an Economics 101 point of view! So let’s jump in.

Basic economics tells us that the “price” of something is where the demand for it intersects with the supply of it. The demand for something tends to increase when the price drops, while the supply tends to decrease when the price drops.

But what determines how much of a product will actually be supplied at each point? The cost of the inputs. So if you were making ice cream, for instance, and the price of milk dropped, then the supply line would shift, and the price of ice cream would decrease.

In the original gorgeous graph above that I made using Powerpoint, you can see that the demand and supply meet at 11 times per month. But what happens when an input cost drops? Suddenly more will be supplied at each price point, and bingo! You now have sex 13 times a month.

Okay, that may sound complicated. But I hope you get the picture: when inputs are more expensive, you’re going to get less of something, because people won’t buy as much at the higher price. That’s why if the government wants you to buy less of something they tax it (like gas or alcohol), but if they want you to buy more of something they give you a tax deduction (like charity).

What does this mean for sex?

It means that if the cost of sex gets too high, then you’ll have less sex.

So if you want to have great sex in marriage, we’ve got to keep the cost of inputs down!

Today, for Top 10 Tuesday then, I thought we’d look at the “cost” of 10 inputs into a great sex life in marriage, and see what we can do to reduce those costs!

I’m not talking about foundational things, like feeling good about sex and having a positive view of sex, or sex not hurting. These are necessary, too. Call them the factory–the thing that is necessary to even produce the product.

But then you have the inputs that go into it. You could feel great about sex and have a positive view of sex and still never want to have sex, because the cost of the inputs is just too high.

As you’re reading through this, pick just ONE or TWO things to work on. Don’t try to tackle all 10.  Just pick the one that you think is most influencing the cost of sex in your marriage, and then decrease that! Here we go:

An Economic Look at the Inputs to Sex in Marriage

A look at the price of sex using everything learned from Economics! Economist looks at sex

1. Having a place to make love

It’s hard to have sex if there’s not an obvious place where it will easily happen! That’s why it’s so important to keep the bedroom just to yourself, and to keep it feeling inviting and clutter free. If your children sleep in your bed, and you have to find another place to have sex, for instance, then the cost is much higher. If sex didn’t require the work of moving or going somewhere that isn’t as warm, then you’d likely have sex more often!

How to Lower the Cost: Clean your room. Move kids to their own beds. Buy some delicious bedding! Get a space heater or a fan if necessary.

2. Having time to make love

If one, or both of you, works shift work, then there isn’t an obvious “time” to make love like there is usually. Or if your schedules with kids, school, or work don’t line up, then it may be difficult to find a kid-free time when you’re both awake and energetic.

How to Lower the Cost: If evenings don’t work, can you start a morning routine? If it’s not work or school schedules, but simply lifestyle preferences, can you make a decision to go to bed at the same time anyway? If it is work or school, make a long-term goal to adjust your work or school schedules so that you have time alone together.

3. Having physical energy

It’s not just time together that matters; it’s time together when you’re not fighting desperately to stop from drifting off. When you’re exhausted, it’s harder to want to make love!

How to Lower the Cost: Try, as much as possible, to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Help older babies, toddlers, and small children learn to sleep in their own beds. Look at the work that you do for the family and see if you can delegate it differently or cut some things out so that you don’t feel as bone tired.

4. Feeling physically well

Then there’s simply feeling well! If you’re afraid you’re going to puke, sex isn’t high on the list of things you’d like to do. That’s why pregnancy can make sex so tricky! But so can other ailments, like migraines, chronic pain, and more.

How to Lower the Cost: Decide that you will make a priority to take care of your health. Start an exercise routine, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. Consult a nutritionist or do some research on how to eat better. Drink your 8 glasses of water a day to reduce headaches. If you have a specific health concern, speak to your doctor about how to manage it. Your body really matters; let’s treat it well!

5. Feeling emotionally replenished

For many of us, our need to have time to ourselves to rejuvenate, to think, to pray, or just to be relax is greater than our need for sex. That means that if you’re together at night, but you’ve had no time to rejuvenate during the day, you’re far less likely to want to have sex and far more likely to want to run a bubble bath, journal, or even take a jog.

How to Lower the Cost: Talk about your schedule and see if he can take some responsibilities off of your plate earlier in the evening so you can have some time to yourself. Make a practice of grabbing time during the day without feeling guilty. If you work, take your hour long lunch break to center yourself. If you’re at home with kids, take the nap time to relax rather than to get caught up on housework.

6. Feeling mentally calm

How can you have sex when your mind is going a mile a minute? When it comes to sex, multi-tasking is a woman’s greatest enemy. And when we can’t turn off our brains, it’s hard to turn on our bodies.

How to Lower the Cost: Pick a time earlier in the day when you go over your to do list for the next day. Go for a walk after dinner and talk to your husband about the things that are on your mind. Help clear your head before evening comes.

7. Feeling good about your body

If you hate your body, it’s hard to think about your body. And if you can’t think about your body, it’s hard to focus on it enough to get aroused! So how we feel about our bodies affects our tendency to want to have sex.

How to Lower the Cost: Dress your body well and take care of your appearance during the day. Fight the frump! Do lots of stretching and enjoying your body. Ask your husband what his favourite parts of your body are–and believe him.

What Economics 101 Teaches Us About Sex in Marriage! And how to change the supply curve to make sex more likely. :)

8. Feeling emotionally close to your husband

Who wants  to have sex if they don’t feel close? You need to feel like you’re connected emotionally before you want to be connected physically. Like I said in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, Men make love to feel loved, whereas women need to feel loved to make love.

How to Lower the Cost: Spend time everyday sharing about your high and low of the day. Use some of my conversation starters to start talking again. Find a hobby to do together. Or enroll in my FREE 5-lesson emotional reconnection course.

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9. Trusting your husband

For a woman to enjoy sex, she has to be able to be totally vulnerable. She can’t be vulnerable, though, if she doesn’t trust him, either because he’s used (or is using) porn, or he’s texting other women, or he’s being emotionally or physically abusive, or he’s had an affair.

How to Lower the Cost: The only way to deal with these big things are to confront them. With most of these things, you will need outside help. They will not get better without you drawing healthy boundaries and you both learning together how to rebuild trust and treat each other well. My book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage talks about this.

10. Enjoying your husband’s scent

Here’s the last one, which those of us with husbands with good hygiene often take for granted: we need a guy who doesn’t stink. And I get email upon email every week from women whose husbands don’t shower enough or don’t brush their teeth. How, then, are they supposed to want to make love?

How to Lower the Cost: Many of these women are looking for “nice” ways to tell their husbands their hygiene is bad. I’m not sure there is a nice way. I think sometimes you just have to say it: “I’d love to make love, but soap and toothpaste are the best aphrodisiacs, and they come before foreplay.” You can even make it a routine that every night you shower together or you brush your teeth at the same time. But beating around the bush and hoping that it changes won’t do any good!

So there you go–10 inputs into sex that we all need.

Which one is the most “expensive” for you? Which one do you have to lower? Or did I miss one? Let me know in the comments!

Are you TIRED of always being too tired?

Do you yearn to actually WANT to make love–and figure out what all the fuss is about?

There is a way! And in this 10-module course I take you through what libido is (it may surprise you!), what affects libido, and how we can reclaim the excitement that God made us for.

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Cara

    The first part lost me lol (I didn’t take economics 5x-I only took it once my senior year with a teacher that didn’t teach or care! Hoping to use the awesome homeschool materials I have when my 2 youngest hit high school!)
    Anyways, I trained all 4 of my kids early on that we had a rest time every day. They did not have to nap, but they had to be quiet. That was paramount for me to even be able to talk to my husband at night!!!
    Depending on the stage of life the rest time was used differently. When I was pregnant or taking an antidepressant it was SLEEP!!!!!! At other times I might just lay down and read. I know not everyone has that luxury but I encourage stay at home moms to try to incorporate that. My kids learned to play contently and be still as an added bonus.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I did that, too! The kids had to have a quiet time. My family doctor told me that when I went in for baby checkups–she said, “even when they stop napping, you still need a break. So help kids learn to play by themselves quietly as soon as they can, and make it a habit.” And we did!

  2. Phil

    I would write mine this way. We used to spend 20-30mins a week having sex 2-3 times per week. The cost was her time and maybe even non enjoyment. Just putting out for me. Now we spend 2-3 hours per week having sex. Mind you this includes foreplay and the surroundings of it all. The cost is less because she actually enjoys it and I want and do step up and help her with time consuming chores etc. It is good.

  3. Anonymous

    Numbers 2-6 are all big in our marriage. This explains why sex occurs, on average, 15 times a year (I have been tracking this for the past 5+ years). Unfortunately, all the medical professions and various medications have not improved our sex life. 🙁

  4. Natalie

    Ooo! #10 is a really big one for us right now! My pregnancy #2 (which should be ending any day/week, now) was started by 30 Days to Great Sex, and this whole past 9 months has been a wonderful growing period for my husband and I, primarily sexually but also just on a personal/individual/maturing level. However, one area he still hasn’t matured in yet is remembering to brush his teeth each morning and evening. Apparently this wasn’t enforced by his parents. His dad even made a joke about it this past Thanksgiving, and said that he always told my husband that if he wanted to get a girl someday, he’d need to brush his teeth. Well, apparently, my husband took that concept to heart, considering that his oral hygiene has diminished with each year of our marriage. I don’t sugar coat it or try to put it nicely anymore when I’m laying or sitting next to him and smell his bad breath, whether he’s breathing through his mouth or nose (cuz I can also smell it, especially while pregnant). I just tell him now that it’s disgusting, a total turn-off, and a huge marker of immaturity, and that he needs to go brush his teeth ASAP. Also, oral hygiene is directly connected with your cardiovascular health. So if you want a healthy heart and healthy body as a whole, keep your mouth healthy and clean too!!!

  5. Sally Poyzer

    Some great, practical advice. Love the economics illustration!

  6. Matt

    I’m going to get into so much trouble when I tell my wife, “Dear, it costs too much to have sex with you.”

  7. Rahul kandal

    thanks Sheila for sharing economist point of view of sex :p

  8. Mr X

    For partners who unilaterally abandon their wedding vows and exclude sex I would also pose this question: What is the cost of not having sex with your spouse? Believe me, there is a cost and its huge.


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