It’s date night, and the mood is right for romance… and possibly some overdue intimacy. You make a reservation at that cosy little restaurant, pull out your silkiest undies, get all dressed up. But after three courses and a bottle of wine (so filling!), you’re home scrolling through Instagram (so distracting!) and feeling your eyelids close after that epic workweek (so exhausting!). How are you supposed to rip each other’s clothes off when you can barely floss before falling into bed?
My husband, Jesse, and I know this scenario all too well. After a decade together, sex is still satisfying. But we’ve both recently taken on bigger roles at work, and the time between our romantic connections has started to stretch.
It’s not just us. The rest of the country are getting it on less than ever before, with only 42 per cent of Victorians having sex once a week and 89.7 per cent of NSW giving their sex lives a big thumbs down, according to the latest Durex Great Aussie Sex Survey. (Except WA – 93.5 per cent of you are smugly satisfied.)
That makes sense, says sex coach Jill McDevitt, with people sucked into social media and answering work emails 24/7. But regularly making time to be intimate “has a cumulative effect in a relationship,” says Kristen Mark, director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab in the US.
“Desire feeds desire, and sex leads to more sex.” How to stop the dry stretches from becoming deserts? “It may not sound sexy, but preplanning sex is key,” Mark says. So I devised an experiment: For two weeks, I decided to prioritise sex the way I usually prioritise everything and everyone else. I had to make some sacrifices, but let’s just say the results surprised me.
Thursday 7:30pm Game Night with Neighbours
I love hosting. I used to work for a fine-food importer, and when we have friends over, I spend hours creating the perfect spread: Manhattans with sour Luxardo cherries from Italy, the rarest international cheeses. Three out of four women say they crave “amazing food” more than “amazing sex,” according to a survey of 3,000 women. Tonight, I wasn’t going to be one of them. As I pulled Jesse onto the couch, hors d’oeuvres be damned, I realised that I’d been letting my obsession with entertaining take precedence over a ripe opportunity for sex in heels and a party dress. Jesse and I finished just before our doorbell rang. No time to prep anything – oh well! We ordered Thai, and our neighbours brought wine. Ample sustenance to keep us giggling through Cards Against Humanity and secretly relating to some of the game’s dirty scenarios.
Saturday 9:00pm Date Night
Jesse and I had such a romantic date after our early-evening shower sex that we ended up going for round two when we got back into bed post-movie. Important lessons learnt: There are infinite reasons to do the deed and then go out and celebrate. You can get a late reservation at the buzzy eatery instead of settling for a mediocre spot with available prime-time seating. There’s no need to worry about eating or drinking too much and feeling bloated afterward, so you can order exactly what you want! And the warm, happy afterglow you’ll both experience leads to extra flirtiness during the meal. “Once we have our eyes open to all of the ‘off times’ sex can occur, we start to see opportunities for intimacy everywhere, and to be more excited by them,” says McDevitt.
Wednesday 7:00pm Dinner with His Family
This one was hilarious. Jesse’s parents showed up half an hour early, as parents do, while we were right in the middle of it! Luckily, our apartment has a buzzer, so they weren’t able to walk in on us. And Jesse found it extra hot to make them wait until we both finished. We texted them that we’d just gotten back from the gym and were getting ready – a great excuse if people arrive while you are all loved up: You’ve just been doing vigorous activity, and if you need to meet them freshly showered or a little mussed, it’s believable. Dinner went especially well. We’d worked up an appetite, and no one got on a single nerve, as all of ours had been thoroughly re-circuited in advance.
Saturday 10:00am Brunch with Girlfriends
Morning sex with sunlight streaming through the windows is what we do most Saturdays anyway. That said, any early plans either of us have with friends or family have always taken precedence over our time together, so on a morning like this, when I’m meeting my squad, I would usually slip out while Jesse’s still sleeping. In the interest of experimentation, we set an alarm to give ourselves enough time to do it before I jetted. I really didn’t lose that much sleep (only an hour), and by the time I left at 10 to meet my ladies for the rest of the day, Jesse and I had already enjoyed the romantic morning that we normally wait for all week. I arrived at brunch feeling glowy all over, so much so that one pal asked me to reveal what blush I was wearing to look so rosy and flushed.
Sunday 10:00pm Almost Back to Work
Sundays in our house are usually rough, and not in a sexy way. We do our chores, pay our bills, and are generally grouchy. Plus, Jesse has 5am weekday wake-ups to look forward to (always, so 4am before-work sex wasn’t going to happen). The final romp before the end of our experiment was good, not mind-blowing (we were both a bit distracted), but the main thing I noticed after our two weeks of almost-daily sex was how sweet Jesse was being to me all day. And how I, too, was being more patient with him. He was so blissed out from our putting each other first that he was kissing the length of my arm in bed as we drifted off to sleep – a departure from our usual Sunday-night stress-fest. Multiple studies show the frequency of sex is as important as quality for long-term relationship satisfaction because the closeness in bed spills over to nonsexual aspects of your relationship, and after this test run, I wholeheartedly agree.
Not only did this make our relationship spicier, but the mutual feeling of prioritising each other led to more affection in unexpected moments too. I can’t promise I’ll continue to put sex before every event on my calendar, but I’ll no longer allow it to be last on my list either.
This article originally appeared in the July issue of Women's Health.