The Challenger space shuttle explosion. The fall of the Berlin Wall. The O.J. Simpson car chase. We all have moments that are seared into our memory, and simply hearing them named immediately transports us to where we were and the emotions that gripped us.
For Gen X women like me, I have to believe that one of those moments occurred in 2008, when we learned about Charla Muller, a 40-something mom who gave her husband the birthday gift of daily sex for a year, chronicling it in the book 365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy. “She did what?!” we all silently screamed as we peered down at our BlackBerries. And this was 10 years ago … before many of us were even married or had children to suck away all of our time and energy.
Doing it on the daily might not be feasible (or even appealing), but most of us could benefit from more sexy time. According to the Kinsey Institute, less than half of Americans over 45 report having intercourse at least once a month. Which sucks, because sex is like the Windex from My Big Fat Greek Wedding – it basically helps everything: relieves stress; improves sleep and immunity; boosts happiness; even makes you look younger, thanks to that rosy afterglow.
But at 8 p.m. when the kiddos are finally in bed and you worked all day and haven’t eaten dinner yet, it’s far easier to feel seduced by the couch than your significant other.
That needs to change, says Stephanie Buehler, an AASECT-certified sex therapist and licensed psychologist at Hoag for Her Center for Wellness in Newport Beach and Irvine, California. She’s calling BS on our “I’m too tired/busy/[fill in the blank] to have sex” excuses.
“Do you exercise multiple times a week?” she gently challenges clients who come to her looking to amp up their sex lives. “Do you have the energy to take your kids to soccer and basketball?” Her point: Most of us can fit sex into our schedules … we’re just not prioritizing it.
One fix: scheduling sex. Yes, mentioning the words “day planner” and “sex” in the same sentence makes it sound like the terrorists have won, but it often works. Buehler estimates that in 20 years of practice, about a quarter of her patients have tried scheduling sex and “it usually takes care of the problem.”
First of all, it’s a way of telling your partner that sex is an important, valuable aspect of your relationship, just like it was in the hot and heavy beginning.
Penelope*, a 41-year-old mom of two from Southern California, says scheduling Monday morning quickies with her husband of 17 years is a way to connect and start the week off on a high note.
“I come home from an early Spin class and our house is a hot mess – I have an hour to shower and still need to help get our kids out the door – but we always squeeze it in, even if it means yelling downstairs, ‘Boys, get your backpacks ready, we’ll be down in five minutes!’ ” she says. Her husband recently called her shortly after parting ways and said he found himself driving into work laughing instead of stressed, thanks to what they’ve dubbed their “Monday Monday.”
Worried penciling in sex will ruin the romance? Buehler’s poised to squash that sexcuse, too. “Do you look forward any less to a concert, ball game or picnic, just because it’s on your schedule? Of course not! Like anything else, you just need to make the time.”
For Camille*, slating weekend sexcapades hasn’t dampened the mood for her and her wife. In fact, the 45-year-old New Mexico mom of two teens says it has been a lifesaver.
“If we were going to wait for a time when we’re both in the mood, not tired, and had privacy in the house, it could be a month and a half,” she says. “By then, we hated each other’s guts and just felt like roommates.”
So on the recent 10th anniversary of their first date, they “recommitted to the passion,” picking Sunday mornings, while their kids are still sleeping. “We’ve really bought into it. It doesn’t feel formulaic. We realized how much we missed it, and now we’re both more relaxed in general.”
Scheduling also helps couples work on their communication skills, Buehler says, because you need to work together to figure out a way to check off this to-do task in a way that still feels alluring to each of you. For instance, your partner might not like it when you say, “OK, the kids are down and the chicken is in the oven. We have 15 minutes to do it. Let’s go.”
“You’ll need to talk with each other and explain what you do need,” she says. “Maybe your partner would rather be kissed and slowly led towards the bedroom.” By communicating that, you’re strengthening your bond — always great news in a relationship. The chicken can wait.
*Not her real name
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