Here’s one way to approach sex in marriage. Call it the “wing it” approach.
Sex should be spontaneous, wild and free, like something out of a teenage fantasy or romance novel. You can’t make it happen. You have to just allow it to happen organically. That’s what makes it so amazing, mind-blowing and erotic.
Here’s another way to approach sex in marriage. Call it the “planned eroticism" approach.
Sure, it would be amazing to hook up at a moment's notice, in the middle of the day, or whenever desire strikes. But let’s face it: For modern couples with careers, kids, pets and the sheer chaos of living through a global pandemic, if it isn’t on the calendar, it isn’t happening.
In interviewing couples for our book, "The 80/80 Marriage," we noticed that many couples opt for the “wing it" approach. When we asked about it, people would say things like, “Sex isn’t like scheduling the three-hour service window for the Comcast guy. It’s different. You can’t plan it.”
And yet, many of these same couples went on to describe a problem with a fancy technical name in psychology called Sexual Desire Discrepancy, or SDD.
It's the classic predicament of sex in marriage. One partner often has a higher sex drive. The other has a lower drive. This leads to the inevitable situation where one person wants it and the other doesn't.
The bigger problem, however, is that when you couple desire discrepancy with the "wing it" approach, sex can quickly become either nonexistent or a constant source of conflict, resentment and hurt feelings.
So why should you stop "winging it" and start scheduling sex?
Reason 1: Putting sex on the calendar builds anticipation.
The thrill of sex doesn't just happen in the bedroom. It happens during the hours or even days before you know you're going to find yourself in the throes of this most pleasurable of all human experiences. It’s that thrill of anticipation. By scheduling sex, you create this purposeful momentum of erotic anticipation that builds over time.
Reason 2: Scheduling sex solves the discrepancy problem.
If it's unclear when, if ever, you and your partner will have sex again, it leads to the experience of anxiety and irritation. The high drive partner in particular often starts to worry, “Are we ever going to have sex? And, if so, when?" What's the cure for this kind of erotic anxiety? You guessed it: putting your next hook-up on the calendar.
Reason 3: Scheduled sex is better sex.
The “wing it" approach often results in one partner who is dying to make love and another partner who is dying to fall asleep after a long day at work. The problem? The lower-drive partner isn’t in the right mindset for sex. They're surprised, confused and in the wrong headspace for getting it on. That's why scheduled sex is often the best sex. It allows you and your partner to get in the right mindset — to finish all those lingering to-dos and send those last texts, so you can be fully present with each other.
Now that you've read through these three reasons for scheduling sex, you might still be thinking, "The idea of planning a time for sex sounds about as erotic as scheduling day-care pick-ups or an Instacart delivery."
Or maybe you're thinking, "This sounds great but am I really going to fire off a calendar invite that says 'Have sex' for Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.? That's insane."
We get it. But here’s the thing: You don't have to call it “planned sex." You can create some other label that brings back a sense of mystery and eroticism. Call it "Party time," "Pizza night,” “Happy hour," "Synch break" or "Fiesta time." Whatever you choose to call it, you might be surprised to see what happens when you turn scheduling sex into a regular ritual.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published by 80/80 Marriage and republished with permission.