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‘Why aren’t we ever in the mood?’ A timeline for sex in marriage

You know the drill: you've got a job, a family to attend to, a body that needs exercise and rest, a mind and heart that need some kind of relaxation and creativity. You've also got a spouse who wants your attention, but it seems like all he or she talks to you about is duties, checklists, and where to pick up the kids next.

So, how, in our current run-here-and-there lifestyles, do we allow time for ourselves to get in the mood for sex? Where do we put that desire-building time in our lives and how do we keep that groove smoldering long enough to get into the bedroom with each other?

Or, put another way, why aren’t we ever just in the mood at the same time?

We used to be, right? When we were dating surely we were, and for a good time after that, too. But then life starts to pull at us—jobs, kids, aging parents, you name it—and we start feeling like we’re all about duty in love, instead of passion. Even when we long for sex with each other, it slips through our timeline like sand disappearing down a street grate. Why does that mood vaporize like that? Is it us? Don’t we want each other enough? Are we just destined to drift and pull apart sensually?

NO. That’s a big, fat, absolute, determined NO. The thing we have to get through our thick heads is that marriage is not like dating. It does not offer us endless hours of responsibility-free time to hook up, check out from the world, and get sexual. That means—you guessed it—we have to create that time. No one is going to give it to us, and life is never going to slow down long enough for it to happen on its own.

We need time to get next to each other—naked, alone, and uninterrupted. How are we going to get that? The same way we get anything else we need or want. We plan for it. We set aside time for it—an hour or two a week, say, at a set time.

Yes, yes, yes, I know. You think you can’t get in the mood at a set time. You think it’s just not spontaneous enough. Well here’s a newsflash: if you’re waiting to be perfectly and spontaneously aligned with your partner sensually in marriage you’re going to be waiting a long, long time. It’s not the nature of the beast. Marriage steals romantic, sexual time from us, so we have to steal it back. The way we do that is by having an hour to make love every week, like clockwork.

Sounds rigid, doesn’t it? All of us who’ve tried it think so, too, and many of us kicked and screamed before we were willing to try it. But here’s what happens: when we have a set time to have sex and get close, we end giving ourselves ramp-up time to get ready to be in the mood. We allow our partner to help us over the hump of resistance when it’s there, and because we show up to love our partner, he or she feels honored, and opened up. Our willingness to overcome all of the road blocks to intimacy—that is, to love our partner anyway—ends up being a kind of love potion that helps kick-start the whole touching, feeling and sensing that gets us going sexually.

Lastly, if sex in marriage has to overcome our identity of adult duty, then a set time offers us another thing that’s really helpful: that is, the awareness that we have to draw out our partner. Meaning, slower is better. Foreplay, thoughtfully entered into, is a drawing out with simple touch, then stronger touch. Our uninterrupted hour or so gives us the opportunity to arouse, over time, without pressure. That’s erotic. That’s where the ‘play’ in ‘sex play’ comes in.

So if you feel like the two of you are never in the mood, try setting a date for uninterrupted intimacy, and try keeping it every week. Show up for each other; be willing to touch and feel each other; show up for what we all say we want—a hot, sensual, long term love affair.

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