Scheduling some time between the sheets can be an easy way to make sure you connect with your partner.
At my six week check-up following the birth of my youngest, my OB said, “You can have sex physically, but only have it if you feel comfortable.”
I wasn’t comfortable honestly. My body still felt like it wasn’t my own. I’d lost barely any weight since the birth, and I couldn’t stand looking down at my stomach whenever I put on clothes. I also was nursing exclusively, not sleeping, and covered with some kind of bodily fluid nearly 24/7.
My husband told me, “When you’re ready, let me know.”
I knew it wasn’t rational, but the fact that my husband wasn’t coming onto me (because I hadn’t told him yet that I was ready) just fed my insecurity. He’s not coming onto you because he doesn’t find you attractive anymore, I told myself.
It was a vicious cycle: I wasn’t having sex because I didn’t feel attractive, yet not having sex made me feel even more unattractive.
As a Relationship Coach, I often recommend couples schedule sex or have “maintenance sex.” It can help improve your relationship, and it helped mine too.
What is “maintenance sex”?
“Maintenance sex” is scheduled sex; sex you plan for; sex you have a really good idea is going to happen.
“Maintenance sex” is NOT sex you “make” yourself or your partner have.
If either of the partners doesn’t want to have sex, it shouldn’t happen. Going through with sex “just because you have to” is self-abuse, and making, forcing, coercing, guilt-tripping, or manipulating your partner into having sex they don’t want IS rape.
BOTH parties must be wholeheartedly “yes.”
Why should you have it?
In nearly every relationship, there’s a “higher desire” and a “lower desire” partner. This can be due to several different factors: hormonal imbalances, age, stress, illness, injury, weight gain, other body changes, past trauma, etc.
The frequency of sex also normally wanes in long-term relationships. It’s easy to no longer make it a priority when life, careers, and/or a child or children happen.
Despite all of the above, physical intimacy should still be an important part of every romantic relationship. Sex, even without orgasm, brings with it a dose of oxytocin (aka the “love hormone”) that will help you feel closer to your partner.
But regular sex can take effort to have.
“Maintenance sex” can help take some of the “effort” out of it because it would be a known variable.
Further, you don’t even have to have it that often. In a 2017 study, it was found that couples that have sex once a week are the happiest. Most couples can find just one time a week when they can have sex.
How can you start having it?
The most sexually satisfied couples are also the ones that are the most comfortable discussing their sex lives.
Start by having an open dialogue with your partner about your sex life.
Here would be some good questions to ask:
How often would you like to have sex?
How do you feel about “scheduled” sex?
Would you like to try it? Why or why not?
What could we cut out in order to be able to have it? (watching less TV at night, trading off who puts the kids to bed, etc.)
What would be a reasonable day and time that we could schedule it?
What would you need in order to be able to have sex? (more conversations, more physical touch throughout the day, more help around the house, etc.)
What would you like us to try during that scheduled time? (Try a new position, toy, lube, etc., new lingerie, a game, etc.)
These questions will hopefully be able to help you and your partner figure out what works for you both as well as what you might need to change about the rest of your life in order to accommodate it.
Once you have a day and time set up, prioritize it. Try not to let other things come in the way, and find ways to make it special: wear something sexy, purchase something new, or research fun positions and/or activities.
While I felt very nervous the first time my husband and I had our “maintenance sex,” once we started, I was definitely into it. It helped me get through my insecurities and helped us get back to connecting in that way.
Sometimes maintenance sex can help you and your partner get through a rut, just like it did my husband and me. Other times, it can be a long-term solution. Explore what works for you and your partner, and never do something you don’t want to.