Marriage Monday: Scheduling Sex

Mark teases that Is There Really Sex After Kids? is the book he’s most astonished that I wrote.  He has reason to feel that way because our physical relationship was at the core of much of our marriage conflict and frustration for the first 10 years of our marriage.

It was during marriage counseling that we were introduced to the concept of scheduling sex.  It was a radical thought that we weren’t real open to considering at first.  We can truly say, however, that this concept has completely changed our marriage.

Today we’ll each share from our own perspective:

Mark says…

When the concept of scheduling sex was first introduced to me, I wasn’t interested.  Sex isn’t supposed to be scheduled…it’s supposed to be spontaneous!

Then I had to ask myself who actually determined that sex had to be spontaneous.  Was it the movies I’ve seen?  The television shows I’ve watched?  Maybe it was a message that was communicated in the pornography I’d seen and read for too many years.

When we decided to give it a one-month trial, the first thing I noticed was that having an agreed upon time for sex took “the ask” off the table.  It removed the rejection I always feared in asking.  I was astonished at the freedom I felt by simply knowing when it would happen.  (We discovered a key to making this agreement successful is that it is scheduled less often than the person with more desire would like and more often than the person with less desire would like.  It’s meeting in the middle and cooperating.)

I also thought it would rob us of spontaneity.  Instead I found that it was no different than putting a date on the calendar to spend time together.  We’ll plan to meet a friend for lunch.  We’ll plan to meet another couple for dinner.  Why not plan for some time for us to be together physically on a regular basis? 

As far a spontaneous physical intimacy, I actually found I desired it less because now I knew—for sure—when it would happen.  And if I did desire it in between our “dates” I was ok with a yes or a no response far more than I was before. 

As a man, I worried that this would be contrived and even awkward.  I found, however, quite the opposite.  In fact, I can say that the quality of our sexual intimacy improved because we were both fully engaged in our times together.

Practically speaking, it was one of the best things we’ve ever done to keep the passion in our relationship.  It kept us connected emotionally and physically even in the midst of raising a busy family.

Jill says…

I had some of the same worries Mark had.  Even though I personally desired it less, I still didn’t want our sex life on a clock of some sort.

What I found, however, is that one of the reasons I desired sex less often is because I thought about sex less often.  By “scheduling sex” I actually found that it increased my desire!  Seriously!  You see, it made me think about sex far more often than I was before.

By knowing when our time together would be, I could prepare both mentally and physically.  I used to tease Mark that this helped me know when to shave my legs!  But preparing physically really did help me get “in the mood.”

When the kids were little, there were even days that I chose to take a nap when they did in the afternoon simply because I knew that “tonight was the night.”  This helped to not be too tired.

I can truly say that scheduling sex transformed our physical relationship and made a huge difference in our marriage.

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 If you’ve had alot of conflict in your marriage about sex, why don’t you give it a try for a month?  See if it makes a difference!  If you’re interested in reading more about this concept, I wrote an article for Marriage Partnership Magazine that is still available online for both you and your spouse to read.  You can read “Scheduling Intimacy” online here.

What about you?  How have you made intimacy a priority in your marriage?

Marriage Monday: Date Your Mate

When Mark and I found ourselves sitting in a counselor’s office around year 7, we found that we’d made a very big mistake.  We’d put our kids before our marriage.  We also learned this was no more healthy for our marriage than it was for our kids.  Here’s both of our perspectives on this:

Jill says:

Once kids came on the scene, Mark easily moved to the backburner.  He could dress himself, feed himself, and take care of his own needs, but these little people couldn’t do those things.  They easily became the priority. 

When I learned the concept of “wife first, mother second,” I came to understand that this is actually a counter-intuitive thought for moms.  It’s not easy for us to leave our kids.  It’s not always easy for us to prioritize our husband before the kids.  But it comes down to daily choices we need to make.

I’ve come to learn that my kids need me to make their daddy a priority because 1) it models for them how to invest in their marriage someday and 2) it provides them with a sense of security knowing that mom and dad love each other and take time for each other.

It’s still hard to leave my kids…and the only ones still at home are teenagers!  But I’ve certainly discovered that any effort I make to spend time with Mark daily, weekly, and for an annual getaway or two is always worth it!

Mark says:

I’ve always been big on romance and the concept of us taking time for our marriage wasn’t a real difficult thing for me to understand.  However, in that counselor’s office I discovered that the very thing I wanted, I was keeping from happening because my expectations were crushing Jill.

“What expectations?” you might ask.  Expectations that there was a prize at the end of any of my effort to make our marriage a priority.  And that prize was always spelled S-E-X.  Jill and I couldn’t spend a fun evening together without my expectation of the night ending in sex.  We couldn’t go out on a date without my expectations lording over my head and my heart.  I don’t know that I actually enjoyed the non-sexual time together because I was so obsessed with when the non-sexual would become the sexual.

Over time I began to understand that my expectations were off the charts and I needed to bring some balance to this area of my life.  Through counseling, seeking out God’s truth for my life, and some honest work on my heart, I brought the expectations to a healthy level.

And the best part of it all?  The physical part of our marriage greatly improved because Jill was now free to be herself and I was no longer crushing her under my expectations! 
That was one of the most important lessons I learned about dating my mate!

What about you?  What practical strategies have you found for making your spouse a priority?