Health

My Wife Wants to Schedule Sex. Now I Feel Like a Failure.

I’m Zachary Zane, a sex writer and ethical manwhore (a fancy way of saying I sleep with a lot of people, and I’m very, very open about it). Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sexual experiences, dating and sleeping with hundreds of people of all genders and orientations. In doing so, I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating issues in the bedroom (and a bunch of other places, TBH). I’m here to answer your most pressing sex questions with thorough, actionable advice that isn’t just “communicate with your partner,” because you know that already. Ask me anything—literally, anything—and I will gladly Sexplain It.

To submit a question for a future column, fill out this form.


Dear Sexplain It,

I’ll get straight to the point. My wife and I are swamped with work and kids so we don’t have a lot of time for sex. To fix this, my wife wants to add a sex schedule to our shared Google calendar. The idea makes me feel like we’ve fundamentally failed at something. Am I looking at this the wrong way?

—Old and Boring

.


Dear Old and Boring,

You are looking at this the wrong way. Here’s how I would look at it instead: YOU ARE ABOUT TO HAVE A LOT MORE SEX. Why on Earth would you ever complain about that?

Actually, let’s go ahead and answer that not-so rhetorical question because I think it speaks to the root of your discomfort. You clearly have this idea that sex should be spontaneous and passionate. After all, that is how sex is depicted in movies. I’m assuming it’s also how things felt toward the beginning of your relationship, which explains why the proposal of a sex schedule feels so jarring to you.

But let’s be real: things change. You’re dealing with kids and stressful jobs now. You’re older—there’s no changing that—but you’re not necessarily boring, as your sign-off suggests. Can we stop for a second and appreciate the fact that you both still want to have sex, even with all the obstacles in your life making it more difficult? That’s huge! Many couples would just give up.

I showed your question to Zhana Vrangalova, Ph.D., a relationship professor and consultant, and I liked how she put it: “You’re a prisoner of the unrealistic expectation that sex in long-term relationships needs to happen as spontaneously as it did at the beginning of the relationship.”

it's his job to make her happy

Adene SanchezGetty Images

Right now, it seems like you have this idea that scheduled sex will be stale or unimaginative, and no matter what, it’s doomed to be worse than spontaneous sex. Untrue! Scheduled sex can be better because you have time to prepare. “You can plan it, make it special, do different things every time, dress up for each other, seduce each other all over again, start the foreplay the day of by texting and sexting each other, build up the tension, and so-on,” Vrangalova says. (I’d like to add this gives you adequate time to charge your sex toys!)

A personal aside: I want to say that as a bisexual man who has a lot of anal sex, I’m always scheduling sex. Gay men, in general, have to schedule (or at least prepare) for sex because they need to douche and clean their booty prior to the act.

Right now, my boyfriend and I are on this threesome spree. These men don’t magically fall into our bedroom. (I wish!) We have to schedule a time when all three of us can meet. And the sex has been fucking fabulous because there’s another hot dude there that wouldn’t be there unless we scheduled.

One obstacle to overcome during scheduled sex is getting into the groove. That’s because you’re not having sex when you’re spontaneously horny; rather, you’re doing it because you know that sex is good for you, and we like having sex.

Luckily, there’s something called “responsive desire,” Vrangalova explains. “It’s basically the desire for sex that we start to feel only after we’ve started engaging in something sexual that gets our body aroused before the desire in our brain catches on.” In other words, it may take a few moments for your horniness to set in, and that’s totally okay. Just because you’re not all hot and bothered the second you touch each other doesn’t mean you won’t become horned up after a few moments.

Old and Boring, I’m excited for you. You’re about to have a lot more sex, and I bet you’re going to enjoy it. Since I can’t stop the passage of time, you’ll still be Old, but at least you’ll be Old and Exciting. Not too shabby!

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