By Kristen Manieri
A funny thing happened about a year into my relationship with the man I’d eventually marry, have kids and make a life with. I just stopped wanting sex. Sure, if it was offered I’d typically be game, but the instinct for a naked rendezvous truly just... stopped.
Scientists and researchers can easily chock this up to a host of physiological changes that occur when we bond. Our body no longer needs to produce the cocktail of chemicals used to attract and land our mate. Our brains begin to wire for stability and consistency as the endorphin-producing novelty wears off.
This is all a normal and biologically natural part of any relationship. Knowing this makes it no less of a total bummer, though.
Add kids to the mix — and with them added fatigue, body image issues and more physiological chemical changes not conducive to sexy time — and any woman may feel like a total desire dud.
For me, sex went completely off the neurological radar. Six years and two kids later, not only did I never think about knocking boots, I really didn’t want to when it was suggested. What I wanted was more sleep, time to myself, an hour to putter around the house, a mimosa with my girlfriends, the chance to finish the novel I’d started eight months earlier, a pedicure, a kid-free trip to Target, and time to binge-watch “The Good Wife.” That list, and probably about 100 things more, took precedence over a good romp.
But I wanted a good marriage and a happy husband. I mourned the loss of the fun, easy and sexy side of our life. I worried that if we set the intimacy parts of our life aside, they might not be there when we finally returned to them (who knows when).
Being someone who gets a thrill from organization and efficiency (one of my favorite books is Getting Things Done by David Allen), it’s no wonder that when I stumbled upon the idea of scheduled sex, I was an instant adopter. But is there a reason why you should schedule sex?
Well, I saw two perks of this passion plan:
1. I’d know when said sex was going to happen so I could emotionally (and physically) psyche myself up for it.
2. I had carte blanche permission to say no any other time with zero guilt. We designated two nights as “sexy time” and literally scheduled it into our calendars.
We had a rough start, and not in a 50Shades of Grey sort of way. We didn’t know this part of our life anymore and no longer had the chemical cocktail to help zap us into arousal. Unexpectedly, it took time to get reacquainted, to turn toward each other, and to commit emotionally to this new normal. But we kept at it... for four years!
Sex, as I’ve discovered, isn’t just an added perk of pairing up; rather, it’s one of the things that keeps us paired up.
Through it, we’ve learned that while scheduled sex lacks spontaneity (truly folks, there’s not a lot of spontaneity anywhere in life when you’re raising two kids), we could intentionally build in novelty by adding in new positions or surprising sexy talk.
I could physically prepare — lady parts pruned, lingerie on — and we could set the stage with candles, music and aromatherapy. Sure, it wasn’t the voracious screw-fest we’d once experienced, but it was sex nonetheless. And who could balk at twice-a-week sex? Marc sure didn’t.
Four years later, our weekly rendezvous still stands. Vacations, my period, visiting in-laws, holidays, the flu, business travel and a host of other hurdles have all thrown us off track along the way.
But like a flock of sheep, we always amble back to the pasture. Sometimes to a fault.
If there’s been any downside to this sexy schedule it’s that sometimes when a spontaneous sex moment does arise — and trust me, Marc sees these moments like a hawk sees a field mouse from miles away — it can be hard for me to jump on board. I really like our schedule and I’ve had to learn to be more flexible when an unexpected opportunity or schedule change arises.
Sex, as I’ve discovered, isn’t just an added perk of pairing up; rather, it’s one of the things that keeps us paired up. Love, honesty, partnership, togetherness, vulnerability, and good conversation are all hallmarks of a good marriage, but without sex, that’s just a friendship.
Yes, I married my best friend 13 years ago, but I also married my lover and I intend to keep this aspect of our life alive as long as we both shall live.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.
Kristen Manieri is the founder and editor of Date Night Guide, a site devoted to helping couples upgrade the fun and connection in their relationship. A prolific freelance writer with more than 100 stories published in national and international magazines, Kristen lives in Orlando with her husband, Marc, and two daughters.