As it turns out, plenty of us have a sex schedule. One study shows that 36% of newlyweds – the people who are thought to be having the most sex after freshly formed couples – have to pencil in lovemaking sessions, while another shows that over half of couples (52%) have to pop it on the calendar. It’s just another sex taboo that’s extremely common but no one’s willing to open up about. And it could really be a relationship saver.
So why do most couples schedule in their sex lives? There’s a vast number of reasons, but the primary one is having children in the house, closely followed by both partners being busy. Psychosexual and relationship therapist Carolyn Cowan agrees that with kids around scheduling sex can “help to make it happen”, and relationship expert Carol Ann Rice adds that scheduling tends to happen on weekends as there’s more opportunity to take your time: “You’re a lot more laid back and less rushed.”
Sceptics will say that the romance is stripped out of sex once you schedule it (this article even says it’s “about as romantic as scheduling a root canal”), and Carolyn agrees that with the wrong motives, the very act of scheduling sex can instantly make it feel like a duty: “If the scheduling is an attempt to ‘make sex happen’ then one or both of you will inevitably feel it’s a burden.” But equally, for those who have been together for years, this is the ideal way to keep the spark alive and stay connected with one another: “For those in a long-term relationship, sex can become a lower priority, so scheduling sex can be a way to commit to the intimacy, time and togetherness that makes the space for sex to happen.”
It also shows a particular level of commitment. It is perhaps naïve to think sex can keep its stamina after years, and if you have the right mindset, it could work. “It might sound awkward to plan sex in advance, but it’s actually a great way to show your joint commitment to a healthy sex life,” says Julia Margo, co-founder and CEO of sex toy company Hot Octopuss. “It ensures you’re making time for sexual intimacy among the business of day-to-day life.” Plus, it can be a way to heighten the excitement. “It’s something to look forward to,” says Carol Ann. “It builds excitement and makes you think about what may happen.”
When it comes to the act of scheduling the sex in, it’s probably best not to grab a pencil and drag the calendar down off the wall – it doesn’t need to be that formal, and seeing sex double-circled on a Saturday calendar window is enough to make anyone anxious. Instead, simply agree verbally between you a day and time that’s least likely to be impacted by last-minute work demands or kids, advises Julie: “Agree this day in advance, it won’t work if one person simply books in a sex session without agreement. And make sure your goals are realistic – if you generally have sex once a week, don’t try scheduling in something over the top, because this risks failure. Once you’re comfortable with your sex schedule, you can gradually up the pace.”
Carolyn concurs that at the start, you should just take it easy. “In my experience as a sex therapist, the best route has been to agree a time to simply connect: cuddle, touch, talk, lie down, face each other,” she says. “Both agree that penetration and orgasms aren’t the end goal – that way there’s no perceived pressure.”
And once you’ve got the pattern down pat, there are plenty of ways to make the schedule itself exciting. “Build up the thrills,” advises Carol Ann. “For example, Thursday night means fizz, fruit and fun, or dressing up and seducing each other over dinner. It’s important to be creative and feel like it’s a special, sacred time you cherish and look forward to – that’ll make you feel excited.”
Julie suggests sharing a calendar note in your phone using a secret code word only you two know. “That way, it’ll feel special and risqué because its just for you two. Try and get in the zone and see that note as something to look forward to.”
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that sex looks different to every couple. There’s no prescription when it comes to how you have sex, when you have sex, or how often – in fact, when we asked Carolyn, a professional psychosexual therapist, how often people have sex, she said: “Wow, no idea – I have given up believing in ‘normal’. All couples are different.” So no matter whether it’s once a week or once a year, if you’re both happy with it, that’s ok. And if you enjoy having sex, then scheduling it in is better than not having it at all. After all, it doesn’t mean you don’t want it enough – it simply means you care enough to make time for it. So grab your calendar and set a date.