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?

Looking for help?

38 thoughts on “Is scheduled sex helpful for a marriage?”

  1. Bonny says:

    Scheduled sex is totally how we roll. I love it!!! I could not recommend it more! We had a discussion about frequency. My husband says he is very satisfied with the frequency even though it is a slight compromise. It is the MOST romantic thing we’ve done for our marriage. Consistent sexual intimacy creates an atmosphere of romance for the other facets of our life. I wish we’d had the knowledge of scheduling when our kids were little. We had three within three years. There was no romantic trysts with toddlers. We should have just scheduled it up and we would have been a much more effective team. Just because I know the when, doesn’t mean there is no element of fun. We play different kinds of music, try different other things…… The beauty of scheduled sex is that you can ADD nonscheduled sex!

    1. Bonny says:

      Here’s my post “Sex Scheduling Can Lead to Romance.” I complements what you’ve said above. Thanks for letting me post it here, Jay Dee….

    2. Jay Dee says:

      Wow, scheduled sex is the MOST romantic thing you’ve done for your marriage. Now that’s a statement. Thanks for commenting and sharing your content Bonny!

  2. Kevin says:

    You sort of touched on this, but I think it can be stated a little more plainly…if sex is scheduled, it gives both of you the opportunity to “know” that something is going to happen; it gives both of you the chance to think ahead, what would you like to receive, what would you like to give. I think scheduling heightens the anticipation on both sides of the table. This doesn’t mean that surprises in between are not great; doesn’t mean that quickies aren’t great…and maybe that is all that is scheduled…but at least “something” happened.
    Btw, I really like the concept that scheduling gives sex a priority that then has to be acknowledged by both husband and wife.
    Great post…Thanks.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks for expanding on that Kevin. I appreciate it.

  3. Mary Faith says:

    After 21 years of marriage three kids and perusing higher education.. yes schedules sex can be very necessary and by all means can be extremely romantic. What makes or breaks the romance is dependent on the creativity, imagination and most of all the intimacy that the two of you have. If you have great communication and honesty then you most likely have great intimacy. When we had small children it was very difficult. Our oldest girl was only 5 mo. old when i found out i was pregnant and we already had a boy that was 8. We understand a busy home and little time, but we obviously made time for each other. Where there is a will, there is a way and it just may take come creativity, imagination and there is nothing wrong with praying together about it. If anything, God wants his children to have a wonderful sex life, so pray about it and ask the Father to help you find the time and for it to be blessed. One thing we do now that the children are older is we plan dates with each other. We find things we like to do together and date each other. There have been dates walking along a river and talking, hanging out in the book store for hours browsing and flirting with each other like we just met. It is kinda funny to watch other people look at you in amazement, lol . the whole point is to play. We played together when we were dating. We planned time for each other then, why not now? We asked each other out in dated then, why not now after 21 years of marriage? we perused each other then, why not now? I feel that in doing this, we have learned a lot more about each other and we have found a whole new love for each other.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That’s great. I hope in another 8 years I have the same attitude. At the moment, we’re still enjoying our young family, though it’s exhausting, it’s amazing. No date nights yet.

  4. ARBrown says:

    Jay Dee – great post. Scheduling sex is almost a must for any couple that is affected by ED or other medical issues. It has helped us tremedously to do this. It has allowed us to go from sexless to being intimate again. Also scheduling does not have to mean the same old routine, If finances allow then schedule an overnight visit to a hotel. Lots of hotel chains have rewards programs so it is possible to get a free night plus it is possible to earn free nights by doing surveys or swag bucks or other kinds of activities.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That’s a good point, about ED and scheduling. It’s a lot harder to be spontaneous when you need time for medication to kick in.

      And I completely agree, just because it’s scheduled doesn’t mean you can stop making it exciting.

  5. LatterDay Marriage says:

    If having a schedule moves the couple closer to mutual sexual fulfillment, of course it’s good. For us it made a huge difference. It used to be I’d always be asking, and so through the course of a week I would get 3-4 rejections and 1-2 yeses. Overall it didn’t leave me feeling too happy, appreciate or loved, and it left her feeling pestered and ‘on defense’ against the next request, or even feeling used.

    When we finally started talking effectively about sex, she came to realize how important it was for me, and I came to find out that sex was actually a bit painful for her and physically draining. She offered a solution of having sex with me 3 times a week, on 3 specific nights, and the other nights were off limits. This gave her time to prepare herself mentally, gave her body a chance to ‘recover’ from the last time, and she didn’t have me constantly asking which made her feel pressured. I didn’t have to ask, I didn’t face rejection, and I had sex a little more often. It was win-win. While we did that we found a lube that was very effective in increasing her comfort without irritating her sensitive areas like nearly everything else did, and she was able to learn to relax more and derive a lot more pleasure from sex.

    Then the week before Christmas she said we could do it every day for a week, as her gift to me and as an experiment to see how it would go. It went very well and the schedule went out the window. Now 3 times a week is low for us, but I don’t think we would have got to this point without that schedule.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      We went through a similar transition. I never realized how uncomfortable my wife was during sex, and she was too embarrassed to tell me. It took a lot of work on both our sides to get to where we are (pain and discomfort free)! Now, we don’t even have to think about it. I think a lot of it was a fear of sex, causing her to tense up and not self-lubricate.

      1. Bonnie Wallace says:

        Discomfort is common during sex, but so is actual pain during intercourse. It is a very common and treatable condition in women. In fact, my mother is a gynecologist and is going to write a post for my blog about pain during intercourse in the next week or so! I’m so happy because I think that deters a great deal of women from wanting sex with their spouse (not that I blame them!).

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Yeah, it seems to be a common issue, but not one people are comfortable dealing with. I look forward to seeing that post.

      2. LatterDay Marriage says:

        Right, she wouldn’t tell me either, just avoid sex when she could then hurry it through when she had to. We’ve solved about 85% of that problem, the rest is that her episiodomy scar hurts if rubbed and her skin is very sensitive. Things we are just going to have to live with, but usually we can keep them from getting in the way.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          My wife wanted to know if you’ve had the scar checked out. She says that sometimes they can fix that issue, if the cause is a botched repair in the first place…might be nice to clear up another 10-15%…

          Either way, sounds like an amazing improvement.

          1. LatterDay Marriage says:

            She saw an OB-GYN about it. He said she wold just have to live with it. It took a year just to get a chance to see him (Canadian health care is not so great) so it would be a big hassle and wait to try and see another one. Plus we are done with having kids and she doesn’t like the idea of any further messing around down there. We can usually avoid bothering it, most of that 10-15% is just that she is a redhead and so she has very sensitive skin.

  6. Bonnie Wallace says:

    We had a long journey here. Because, as you said, my hubby’s (high SD) preference was every day, and mine was never. Once we really started hashing out the sex stuff we both ended up wanting it every day, so that has become the general expectation. No “schedule” per se, just an expectation that both of us cater to.

    That being said, I don’t think scheduled sex works like “Ok. It is time for sex now.” That would be pretty awkward. Instead, it’s just a general expectation of when sex will happen. You both commit to, as you said, put your marriage as a priority and take time out. I expect to spend time with my kids each night. It’s not “scheduled”, but it’s expected and it’s welcome because I love my kids. When hubby and I head to bed, it is expected (now) that we will make love. Because sex is great and we love each other and that’s what we expect. 🙂

    1. Jay Dee says:

      We had a similar pattern (my wife wanting never, me daily). As you said, as we started “hashing out the sex stuff”, what it meant, what we wanted, and learning how to serve each other better, her drive increased. For a time we were nearly daily, but with the kids, that became unsustainable. We hope one day to get back up to that point. But the amazing thing is that we BOTH hope for that now. Early in our marriage, I never would have expected that.

      But, for this time of life, scheduling once a week and trying to fit in one or two more a week seems to be a good fit.

  7. Aimee says:

    I think sometimes scheduled sex is necessary for staying connected in marriage. Factors such as ED as mentioned in one comment or long work hours which make it almost impossible to just be spontaneous. How I would love to have the assurance that at night when I snuggle up to my hubby we would make love, but I know that will not happen since his work hours make his bedtime early to rise and early to bed (2am and 6pm), and he just does not have the energy at all during the week.
    So, scheduled sex is what keeps us connected sexually. Although the ‘schedule’ is more of an expectation. Towards the end of the week, we will each start staying that “Friday is almost here”, meaning we will get a chance for sex…doesn’t always happen, but we try our hardest to make that time for sex.

    Scheduling isn’t necessarily about putting a big red S on the calendar, although it may be for some, but I know for us, it is an expectation that we will have sex on certain days and something we both can look forward to.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, my wife has said “Friday is almost here” a few times as well.

  8. J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) says:

    I’m definitely a proponent of scheduled sex. That schedule can be consistent (like every Thursday) or decided not long before it happens (“can we pencil in sex tonight?”). Either way, you make sex a priority, anticipate its arrival, and then add spontaneity with the what, where, how, etc. once you get there. Great post!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks J!

  9. Bonnie Way says:

    Hmmm, interesting post. I like this idea, actually. We have three kids so “spontaneous” sex is definitely getting harder (to my husband’s disappointment). I’d be up for scheduling it like a “date night,” especially because for me, a big deterrant to sex is being exhausted. So if we schedule it, then maybe I can also plan to get to bed a bit earlier the night before or have a nap or at least make sure I’m well-rested so we can have some time together. 🙂

    1. Jay Dee says:

      We have 4 kids, all 7 & under. As you say, spontaneous sex becomes nearly impossible. Start simple. Our current “schedule” is Friday nights. It’s not a contract, or an obligation, it’s just a “we both try really hard”. Of course, if you manage to find the energy or time another day, don’t let your schedule slow you down. My wife’s biggest deterrent is exhaustion as well. Our youngest is not sleeping through the night yet, so we get extremely broken sleep patterns every night.

      Also, maybe ask your husband if he’d give you time to nap, or go to bed early a day or two a week. If he knows it’s so you can have more energy for sex…he might be up for it. I know I will sacrifice a lot to have my wife fully engaged during sex.

  10. Paul H. Byerly says:

    Scheduled sex can rock your world – if you get over whatever mental speed bumps you have.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, I agree. Scheduled sex can be amazing, and it’s … comforting, when you come from a history of refusal. You always know when your next meal will be, at minimum.

  11. Jeff Z says:

    I find it funny to think about ‘spontaneous sex’. Spontaneous sex is simply both having the proximity unencumbered with other activity (or deciding to forgo an activity) and one or both spouses deciding to initiate (and not getting shot down).

    The whole point of scheudled sex is that, as (we choose to let) our lives become busier, we don’t have the proximity unencumbered with other activity (read: kids, appointments, tv programs, etc.). Scheduling sex is a great way to make sex one of those activities. So is limiting the number of activities that we have so that we can be ‘spontaneous’.

    Great post.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, I don’t know about you, but there isn’t much in my life that is spontaneous anymore. It’s too full (of good things).

  12. Leigh Ann @ Intentional By grace says:

    I love this post. It’s so practical, but I love how you explained scheduled sex. Going out on a limb here…passing along to the husband. We’re just coming out of newborn phase, so exhaustion takes over too much! Thanks for sharing this on Fellowship Fridays.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, especially in that newborn sort of phase, I think this is critical. Husbands get a lot less cranky when they know there is a bare minimum of sexual activity (even if its not sex). Its that wondering when we’re going to be able to reconnect that drives us really crazy.

      Good luck!

      And to your husband if he reads this: Accept the offer! If you don’t, you will never live it down, you’ll be stomping on her vulnerable sexual self, and you’ll be given up on a chance of at least that activity (maybe more), to go back to random sparse encounters. Take the offer enthusiastically, even if its not quite the frequency you want, it could lead to more (no promises).

  13. MJK says:

    We schedule sex once a year on Valentine’s Day. The rest of the year we have it almost every day with few exceptions. February 14th is a night that we both look forward to, every year. I am a planner and it’s always a surprise to hubby. One year, I learned to hula dance to “Sweet Leilani”. It’s a Hawaiian love song. It took three months prior to learn it. I wore out the video. Haha! I had my young boys also learn to practice with me. I had no choice in that matter. They were young enough that it was just fun for them to do. I decorated our master bedroom with everything luau. I had bought a real grass skirt and had a leis around my neck and nothing else. It was so fun to finally hula for my hubby. I always give him a an invite card in the morning of Valentine’s Day. The card had a hula girl on it with some suggestive words. It’s good to let him think all day about things to come. Boy, he’s always home early that day (if he’s gone), no matter what. Every Valentine’s Day it’s always a different “theme”.
    I would love to hear other people’s creative themes. How ’bout you, Jay…are you a planner?

  14. Chris Tian says:

    Wow awesome post. I’ve just read a book called the Bead Method which sort of advocates this idea. I love what Mark Gungor says in it that sex isn’t about spontaneity but intentionality and it’s so true! Yes scheduled sex sounds very cold and uncaring but actually it’s a great idea! Planning a night of intimacy is a perfect way to spend the evening and reading your post has given me ideas on how to make it special with good food, wine and dancing…also sometimes my excuse for not dressing up is having nowhere to go, well now I can create a special occasion for the perfect dress. I will pick Wednesday as it’s a naturally boring day generally so it’ll be nice to have that special time in the week. 🙂

    Some else you said that I liked about collecting a debt was very good too. Actually the scriptures say: “Be indebted to no man but the continued debt to love” also Paul talks of not “defrauding one another” in terms of marriage so actually sex IS a debt that is owed in some ways, maybe if we see it in that way it will be easier to render payment? lol! 🙂

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks Chris,

      I’ll have to check out that book.

      Interesting feedback on the debt concept, I like it.

  15. Wayne says:

    That is what my wife suggested. We haven’t had intercourse in 4 and a half years. She doesn’t like oral sex either giving or receiving, French kissing, or anything that has to do with the YUCK factor of fluids. She says that she is not interested in sex, but will try to start meeting my needs. For a long time she just didn’t feel well because of fybromialgia. I have had ED issues over the last few years because of my resentment of her refusal and her refusal to take care of her body (overweight, not shaving her legs, not trimming herself at all down there). I have also developed a porn habit which she thinks is the main problem. She also refuses to go to counseling. We have some form of sexual touching every two or three months, but she does not want to really work at learning to touch me correctly. I always try to make sure she has an orgasm through clitoral stimulation with my fingers, which is the only thing she will let me do. So we will try to schedule sex. Maybe it will make a difference.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      While the porn habit may or may not be the MAIN problem, it is a SERIOUS problem. Get rid of it! Not only for the ED side effects, but for so many others.

  16. P says:

    We decided to work with scheduled sex a couple of years ago when my higher drive partner and I seemed to have fallen off the wagon with him perpetually complaining about not getting adequate sex. Over the years however, a pattern has ensued..he will ignore me pretty much until it is bed time on the ‘scheduled’ day. Will wait in bed, expectantly. This works opposite for me, I feel used, like all I am good for is sex. I begin dreading it from morning…oh today I have to deliver. What makes this worse is his reaction if for whatever reason I am not up to it…gets upset, the following day(s), won’t talk to me until I ‘deliver’. I hate it! I have no idea what to do.

  17. anon says:

    After my husband had a heart attack with brain trauma he started demanding sex 2-3 times a day seven days a week. This has been going on for years. He has studied about how to train your girlfriend -even though we have been married over 30 years. He goes completely to anger land if I do not comply immediately. I give in but am extremely depressed and not enjoying anything. Sex, life, nothing seems worth being in a slave state. I have a minor child and am trying to navigate the situation. However, when I see all this rationalization of men forcing a wife to sacrifice self identity for male domination it makes me feel violently ill . I enjoyed sex 3-4 times a week prior to his heart event. Occasionally 2-3 times a day. Now, I feel I have no rights. If I am ill, or just worried about other family matters, or just not in the mood -non of that matters! I better just find a way to forget about all that or else. I don’t no what or else is. I just know if his needs are not met there will be all hell to pay. Do not mind F**k your wives. It kills us, is terrible for the children and makes sex disgusting.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I think you need to seek professional help on this one. Please, seek a therapist on your situation.

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