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Is Scheduling Sex Helping or Hurting Your Relationship?

Does scheduling time for sex work? Explore ways to make gettin’ it on a relationship priority without turning it into a chore.


If you’re in a longterm relationship, you’ve probably been issued these words of caution in one way or another: Enjoy all that sex now, because sooner or later you won’t want anything to do with each other. And our entertainment doesn’t help either. Any TV or movie viewer knows dry spells = cheating, breaking up, or living as roommates.

It’s a message I certainly got before I married my husband and, to be honest, a joke I’ve made with some of my girlfriends.

No matter the intention, it’s led many of us—myself included—to follow the same advice we use for managing our exercise routines, gynecologist appointments, and client meetings: just schedule it.

The plans go something like this:

“It’s been five days. We have to have sex tomorrow.”

“We’re going to have sex four times this weekend.”

“My period starts in a week—we need to have sex every day until then.”

Now, I’m a list-loving, multitasking, super type A personality, but not even I could tell you the last time looking at my color-coded, fully booked iCal app turned me on. I’ve come to realize scheduling sex like we do everything else in our lives can diminish its importance in a relationship and make it feel like an obligation. And no one wins (or gets off) in that scenario.

So, how do you make sex and intimacy a priority without killing all the fun? 

For me, it always comes back to talking with my husband. How much sex each of us needs varies depending on what’s going on in our lives and has changed as we’ve gotten older, been together longer, and become overextended personally and professionally. And not talking about it only makes it worse. When I’m mentally or physically feeling off, I let my husband know, and he does the same. No one feels rejected or pressured.

Be honest, and find a number to aim for that works for both partners on a weekly, or even monthly, basis.

Next, stop talking and get after it. Once you’ve established what each of you really wants and needs, you can start mixing things up. For me and my husband, the spontaneity comes from three places:

  1. Who initiates sex

  2. Where and when we have sex

  3. What we try in bed

Getting to know each other, learning each other’s desires and boundaries, is what makes a relationship exciting and keeps you running back for more. And once you know each other well, you can build on that knowledge. Surprise your partner with a fantasy they’ve always talked about. Book a night—or weekend—in a hotel as a special treat. Bring home a new book or some porn, and break your position rut for something different.

Lastly, take out the pressure and guilt. If you don’t hit your target number of romps—or if you do plan a sexy night and end up binge-watching a show on the couch—that’s fine, as long as you keep the communication open. After six years of marriage I’ve learned intimacy has many definitions, and I certainly can’t get aroused on demand. That doesn’t mean the time my husband and I spend together doesn’t help strengthen our relationship in other ways.

In the end, if you find setting a naughty alarm or calendar alert gets the job done, go for it.

Sex should be fun, and sex with someone you know and trust can be really fun. And when you stop treating it like homework, you’ll start to feel like you're dating all over again.

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