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The Surprising Thing That Happens When You Decide NOT To Have Sex

Why having sex less often may be the best way forward for couples in love.

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Having great sex three to four times a week was always something that came naturally to Sam and Dina Marksen.*

In the first years of their marriage, the busy couple prided themselves on maintaining the spark while building their careers and starting a family. But 25 years later, Sam and Dina found themselves celebrating their milestone anniversary with a much different understanding of the role sex plays in their still successful marriage.

“We’re just busy,” explains Dina, a 52-year-old television news producer. “We work long hours. We have two teenagers. At the end of the day, one or both of us usually passes out.” Sam, an IT director at a large company, feels the same way. “Some days I finish work and all I can think about is food and sleep,” he says. “Sex is the last thing on my mind.”

And so it went for Sam and Dina, sometimes going two or three weeks without being intimate. Years ago, when their careers really took off and sex took a backseat (not literally … well, maybe sometimes), they both felt guilty about not keeping up their record.

“We had been on a streak for years,” recalls Dina. “And then it evolved into a have-to.”

Before they knew it, exhausted Sam and overwhelmed Dina were forcing themselves to have unwanted and not-so-spicy sex with each other. Once it became an obligation, it was no longer enjoyable. All the heat was replaced by guilt, resulting in tedious “get it over with” sex that neither really enjoyed.

That’s when Sam and Dina finally had an honest discussion with each other. Neither wanted to admit that the spark was gone, but it was becoming more and more difficult to fake enthusiasm. It wasn’t that they were any less attracted to one another or that there were issues with the marriage. They were just living a different kind of life, one that didn’t leave a lot of time or energy for intimacy.

So, Sam and Dina made the decision to focus on quality over quantity. They acknowledged that it really didn’t matter to anyone but each other that they once had been the bunny rabbits of modern-day marriage. They didn’t miss having sex all the time. What they missed was good sex. What they missed was each other.

To celebrate their new outlook on their sex life, Sam and Dina planned a long weekend without the kids. They booked the hotel, bought the plane tickets and arranged for their teens to sleep over at friends’ houses. But they also did something unusual: They decided to abstain from sex in the weeks leading up to the trip. Almost four long weeks passed without more than a morning cuddle, supportive hug or kiss goodbye. And as one might expect, when it was time to board that plane, they both had only one thing on their minds.

“It was better than pretty much anything I imagined and definitely better than any of the sex we were having before,” Dina admits. Sam agrees. “By the third week it was basically all I could think about. Definitely a good way to relight the spark.”

Today, Sam and Dina don’t have to schedule in their abstinence periods. It’s built into their busy lives already. But they do make time for each other every few weeks, and every time gets better than the time before. Most importantly, Sam and Dina no longer feel guilty about not constantly being intimate.

“We evolved,” Dina concludes. “Better sex less often is definitely the way to go.”

*Names have been changed