Richard Nicastro, PhD believes scheduled sex can be a good thing for many couples. He challenges some of the beliefs and “shoulds” around this topic as it relates to sexual intimacy in marriage and relationships.
We can all see the logic of scheduling life maintenance tasks like medical appointments or our car’s oil change, or even social events like lunch with a friend. But when we hear of the idea of penciling sex into our busy calendars, we tend to balk…after all, “Sex should be spontaneous (shouldn’t it?)”; “Scheduling intimate time will take the romance out of it (won’t it?)”; “Sex should just naturally and organically ‘happen’—making a specific plan for it may upset the mojo (might it?).”
But the truth is, scheduling sex between you and your partner might do your relationship more good than you realize. Consider the following reasons:
If it isn’t scheduled, it won’t happen.
Modern life unravels at a frenetic, break-neck speed. Most people agree that, frustratingly, there are more things to be done than there are hours in the day. And most people acknowledge that their scheduling device of choice is the tool that keeps them organized and efficient. How many of us have failed to record an appointment or event, thinking for sure we’d remember it, only to completely forget it in light of a busy workday or the ongoing demands of home life?
This is why we use calendars in the first place: to carve out time for the things that matter. Sex in a long-term relationship matters very much, so marking a time for it among the other important parts of your life is not only wise, but it will go a long way toward ensuring that the intimacy actually happens.
If it gets the sexual motor going, who cares how it started?
No one has a gratifying, satisfying sexual experience with their partner and demotes it after the fact because it was predicated on something banal like scheduling. In other words, the intimacy is what matters; the closeness between you and your partner…it’s the act itself that’s important and what it does to bring you two together and foster your emotional connection; it’s not how the act began that is the concern.
Good sex transcends even clunky or halting foreplay, so don’t let yourself get overly focused on whether or not you think planning for sex is romantic. Furthermore, couples often report not being in the mood at all until after they began to get intimate. So, rather than waiting for the mood to strike, invite the mood in by acknowledging a mutually beneficial time for both of you and then join each other in the goal of sensual exploration. You might be pleasantly surprised (or even amazed) at what happens.
It creates a relational orbit that supports both sexual and emotional intimacy.
Intimacy flourishes in an atmosphere of trust. And trust flourishes in an atmosphere of reliability. This means that some element of predictability is a good thing. It doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t bring surprise into your sex life (that’s a good thing, too, when both partners are open to it)…what it means is that planning for sex—in essence, being able to count on it because you’re both committing to making it happen—is a way to nurture that trust and reliability so vital for intimacy. We don’t reveal our deepest, most vulnerable selves when we don’t feel safe, when we don’t trust the other.
Acknowledging that sex is important and that you will make it part of your schedule (in other words, committing to this) goes a long way to supporting both sexual and emotional intimacy.
It’s a time to escape from the daily hassles of life.
You may feel like ‘demoting’ or ‘reducing’ sex to a square on your calendar will lump it into one of the daily hassles of life. Actually, it’s quite the opposite: scheduling sex can provide you with an oasis in the desert of non-stop life routine, all the annoying things that have to get done and all the things that demands your attention yet feel so ungratifying and unsatisfying.
So carving out a time and place for sex with your partner/spouse is a way to reclaim what you and your relationship need and want. Yes, all those mundane life maintenance tasks will still need to get done afterward, but you’ll feel better for nurturing yourself and your relationship. Temporarily escaping the pressures of daily life can bring a sense of relief and release. Research shows that people who report having a satisfying sex life also report less stress and more general life satisfaction overall.
It’s shared love that transcends the spoken word.
Physical intimacy between committed partners is a shared love that transcends the spoken word—this is part of its power, its beauty, and its mystery. But the essence of modern life is such that we often need to use the spoken word to arrange circumstances so that we can experience the more beautiful moments that soar beyond the ordinary and commonplace. Scheduling intimate time with your partner is no different. So before you resist the idea of trying this because “lovemaking should be beyond words,” consider when the result is something that benefits you and your partner in extraordinary ways, who cares you get the fire started? (Even if the way it’s started is rooted in the world of ordinariness, i.e., a to-do line in your planner).
The truth is, our lives are ones of competing, relentless, and often stressful demands. Prioritizing is essential, but the risk we run in mindless prioritizing is that we’re too likely to let things slide that we think can wait, even if those things are good for us.
For instance, we’d never think to tell our boss that we’re just too busy to come to work for a while. Or to tell our landlord that she needs to wait a few months for the rent because we’re too busy to get to work. Those types of commitments are always at the top of our priority lists because there are immediate and dramatic consequences for not meeting them. Most of us don’t put our sex lives in this same category, and it’s true that the fallout for ignoring intimacy with our partner/spouse isn’t usually immediate (though it will be dramatic and dire if ignored for too long).
The point isn’t to make yourself feel panicked about your sex life…the point is to encourage you to honestly assess the myriad demands of your life, to look at how you’re managing to get all the important things done, and to transfer some of those skills (namely, scheduling and prioritizing) to your love life. Giving the sexual elements of your relationship this kind of attention can only strengthen and nurture it.