Is scheduled sex helpful for a marriage?

Jay Dee

Is scheduled sex helpful for a marriage?

Nov 06, 2013

Often the idea of scheduling sex is met by resistance from one or both spouses in a marriage.  Things that come to mind are: Scheduled sex isn’t romantic There is this idea that scheduled sex isn’t romantic, it isn’t sex, it isn’t hot, it isn’t,

Is scheduled sex helpful in a marriageOften the idea of scheduling sex is met by resistance from one or both spouses in a marriage.  Things that come to mind are:

Scheduled sex isn’t romantic

There is this idea that scheduled sex isn’t romantic, it isn’t sex, it isn’t hot, it isn’t, well, whatever word you want to use.  Basically, it’s missing something.  But we schedule sex implicitly throughout the year: birthdays, holidays, vacations, these generally come with an expectation of sex, and can be some very arousing experiences I think the key is to make it romantic.  Don’t show up to bed and say “OK, I’m here…let’s check this TODO off.”  Find ways to make it romantic.  Do devotions together, pray together, light some candles, play some music, start with a massage, or ice cream, or a card game (is there a strip UNO?).  Find some way to connect first before jumping right in to what you know is coming.  The anticipation and delay might enhance sex once you get to it.  Just don’t delay too long.

Scheduled sex isn’t spontaneous

We have this crazy idea, probably mostly from the media, that sex should be spontaneous.  Wives are meant to be swept off their feet without notice, taken to the bedroom and ravished.  I don’t know about you, but with 4 kids…that doesn’t work.  Spontaneous sex happens extremely rarely.  If we waited for spontaneous sex, we’d be back in the sexless marriage club.  Besides, I’m sure you can think of times when non-spontaneous sex was still good.  Most people look on their wedding night with a mix of fear, anticipation, arousal and excitement.  It’s scheduled weeks, months, years sometimes in advance.  Now, granted, there’s a whole lot going on that first time, but what about vacation sex.  When you know your going away.  There will be no kids.  No work to get up for in the morning.  You just had a great dinner.  Both of you know what’s happening next.  Does it make it any less amazing?

Scheduled sex feels like duty sex

It can be hard sometimes, when you’ve scheduled sex for that night, but it’s been a horrible day, sex is the last thing on your mind, you’ve had kids climbing all over you all day, or a horrible report due at work, or meetings, and the last thing you want is to have to talk to another human, or be touched by another pair of hands.  And now here comes your spouse to collect on your agreement, like it’s a debt that’s owed.

This is the exact opposite mindset you want for sex, but it can be avoided.  Tell your spouse you need some time to decompress.  Maybe take a shower.  Maybe take it together.  Ask your spouse for help to unwind first.  Talk for a bit, request a back-rub, or a foot massage.  Ultimately, you both want this to work, so find out what will make it work.  This isn’t trading back-massage for sex, this is trying to get into the right head space so you both can have an amazing time together.

Is there anything good about scheduled sex?

Yes, the obvious one is…well…you’ll have more sex.  That in and of itself, I think, is enough to give it a try.  Sex is so important to a marriage, that the benefits of that alone is worth the effort.  But wait, there’s more.

Scheduled sex makes sex a priority

Your priorities are reflected in your calendar.


This is a quote I heard years ago, and I can’t remember now where it was.  But it’s very true.  Scheduling sex puts sex on the calendar.  It sets it as a priority.  This can be a clear message to each of you that your marriage is important enough to block off time to make it succeed.

Scheduled sex makes it easier to get ready

Now, I, personally, don’t have any problems getting ready for sex.  But my wife says that knowing sex is on the schedule for a night gives her a change to, throughout the day, get her mind prepared.  That way she doesn’t have to last minute go “Oh….you want sex….let me see if I can get out of mommy mode”, because that can be hard.  Giving her a heads up that sex is happening gives her a head-start.  Of course, text-ing her through the day, calling, connecting, helping her to make that transition later on will go a long way towards that end as well.

How often should there be scheduled sex?

Now, the most frequent advice I see in terms of frequency is “compromise”.  Honestly, I’ve never seen that work.  You know why?  Because often the high-drive spouse’s ideal is every day or every 2 days, or twice a week.  The low-drive spouse’s ideal is…never.  So generally a compromise is what you have now.  It’s not never…but it’s halfway between never and something.  So, that’s doesn’t work.

Instead, I suggest this:  Find out what the higher drive spouse would prefer.  Then try it.  If it’s unmanageable, then cut it down by a small factor.  For example, if the higher drive spouse wants sex every day, try two out of three days.  Don’t drop down to once a week right off the bat.  This decision has to be mutual.  If it’s not, if you can’t work together as mature adults and find the next step down in frequency and try it, guess what, you’re back to square one.  So do your best, if not, you’re only hurting each other and yourselves.  We did this.  We went from 12 times to year to once a day.  It was unmanageable, but it’s what I thought I wanted.  We were exhausted…but deliriously happy and connected.  So, we pulled back a bit.  To four out of five days.  Then to two out of three days.  Then “we” got pregnant, and we adjusted down to about one out of three days.  Then, when the baby was born, we adjusted down to no sex during the 6 week recovery…because it wasn’t manageable.  Now we’re back up to about once every three days, because we still have a breastfeeding baby and we’re exhausted.  Our hope, together, is to raise that back up so that we have sex more days than not, but that may take a while.

My point is, we started as much as possible, then scaled down when it wasn’t possible.  As our lives, we adapt to increase or decrease, but always with the intent of having as high a frequency as we can sustain.

Now, how often should it be actually scheduled?  That depends on how hectic your life is.  With us, we know that certain days are likely going to be a write off.  My wife has a bible study group that tends to run fairly late into the night.  Those nights are generally not going to work.  We have a small group that, by the time everyone is gone, the kids are in bed and we’ve tidied up, it’s late.  So, that often doesn’t work either.  But we know that nothing will ever be scheduled on a Friday night, so as long as our youngest actually goes to sleep that night, we’re good to go.  So, Friday’s are more or less scheduled, and then we try to fit one or two more days in the week wherever we can.  If you try that and it doesn’t work, then try scheduling every one, see if that helps.

Two things to remember about the schedule:

  1. The schedule should represent a minimum, not a maximum.  If your spouse starts initiating on a non-scheduled night, it is not alright to reject them purely on the basis that it is not a scheduled night.  This is not a quota.  This is a declaration of a priority in your marriage.
  2. The schedule should not be thought of as written in stone.  Things are going to happen.  You’ll get sick, throw your back out, a kid won’t sleep, you’ll have to work late, there will be a party that ends later than expected, life is going to happen.  Try not to get bent out of shape about it.  Instead, try to find another day to catch up.

Who initiates?

Now here’s the weird thing about scheduled sex, it doesn’t really need an initiator, since you both know it’s coming.  Some people might find this appealing, because initiating can bring a lot of anxiety, particularly if there has been a pattern of refusal in the past.  But if you prefer it to be more obvious instead of just both rolling towards each other at the same time, then take turns.  Perhaps the higher-drive spouse gets more turns, perhaps not.  That’s up to you.  But if you like the idea of someone being responsible for kicking off the night, then assign it.  Let them pick the positions, the activities, the toys.  This can be a good confidence booster, to know you won’t be turned down when you initiate.  It can be a great way to heal some of the damage that has been done if you haven’t been having regular sex in a while.

Your Turn

Have you ever scheduled sex in your marriage?  How did it go?  Do you now?  How is it working?  Do you have any suggestions, tips, or warnings?

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