When intimacy isn’t a priority, it’s easy to wind up in a rut. Scheduling sex now gets you out.

The time of life when relationships sustain the most stress is during the child rearing years, IMO. You might also feel it most when you return to school, or maybe you’re movin’ on up the corporate ladder. Wouldn’t it be lovely to hold hands with your SO and sit on the stoop listening to the birds all day? Unfortunately, most of us have to work, bills must be paid, our kids need endless attention. So you’re shattered into a million pieces for incessant hours, leaving a part of yourself at the office, a shard at your kid’s baseball game; you drop a fragment of your sanity at the grocery store. What’s left when you’re so tired, you can’t even sleep? You worry if you are doing anything right, and how to do more. Your partner feels the same and the two of you gravitate into worlds of doing, without doing each other.

Recent studies have suggested, “sexless marriages” (a potentially untrue term if both partners are happy with their frequency) occur in 15-20 percent of marriages. So if you’re battling this particular issue, consider scheduling sex.

Scheduling sex was once regarded as something distracted people did, people who didn’t know how to let themselves go and lose themselves in spontaneity. How can it be romantic when it’s so deliberate and seemingly devoid…of what we need to make satisfying love? Passion, hunger, the sensation of being swept away. Wouldn’t scheduling sex achieve absolutely the opposite? Wouldn’t you two feel lame, staring across the bed at each other? Who’s gonna say it first? Well, it’s Friday night. Shall we commence?

No. No. And no.

Here’s the truth. When you schedule time with your partner to be intimate, to claim each other, for pure surrender, you are telling them, I want this time with you. One might regard it as a sort of foreplay, or use it to rev up before the festivities start. This is intentional lovemaking, and it confirms the devotion in your relationship.

Scheduling sex is a tool to help you both rekindle your chemistry as it draws you closer together.

The alternative, continuing to make excuses for a day that you both can’t get to wears on each of you. You become increasingly disappointed on those nights, or days you don’t make it happen. Extended periods of the dry spell might have you taking things personally, or pointing a blaming finger, when the truth is so simple.

Being an adult is tough. We’re all exhausted and overwhelmed.

It’s a breakthrough when you take that marker and circle your select dates on your calendar. You start to play more as you lead up to it. Instead of lamenting the loss of closeness and connection, now you’re anticipating a window of passion, reassurance and relationship reinforcement.

If you’re worried it will feel too strange and uninspired, work to get over the point the state of your life has put you in: majority work, rare time for adult activities. Our daily responsibilities and the ability for anyone to reach us at anytime have made us prey, and our personal lives suffer. But you’re doing something about it. I don’t have to tell you the message you send to your partner when you stop everything for them, no matter if it means rescheduling that date with your couple friends, finding a babysitter, or putting off your camping trip for another week.

It’s hard to begin a conversation about this. Still, you must start. When you talk to each other, avoid accusing the other of being the culprit. If you feel that way, use examples and talk about your feelings. This is a sensitive topic and naturally defenses will want to rise, but listening and resolving to remain calm will put you on a better path to creating a plan. As you share how you’re feeling and why, prepare to take responsibility for your part, even if you were unaware of how your behavior affected your partner. Both of you arrived at this situation together and you must admit that to get past feelings of hurt, which will restrain you from moving forward.

If after an honest talk with each other you just can’t get out of the sexless groove, you may want to consult an outside source. Confiding in a professional puts the focus on goals, not slights, and a therapist can likely assign homework to get you back on track.

The rules. Pick a date together. One which isn’t riddled with to-do’s. Then each of you commits to the date and time, and agrees you will both do what you need to, to ensure your date really happens. If that means getting the vacuuming done, packing the kids’ lunches, or walking the dog, perform your chores so they are out of the way and not distracting you. Flirt about it. What plans do you have for each other? What parts of intimacy have you missed? Your sex life and tastes are individual. As long as you both feel safe and satisfied, that’s the only thing that matters. The final, non-negotiable rule: follow through.

As time passes and you continue to honor your special days, you may discover a bonus. Sex is better, more meaningful and satisfying than it has ever been. Why? Open communication and an agreement to commit to each other.

Living a sexless existence may lead you to wonder about the future of your relationship if you can’t solve this very touchy issue. Try to resist heading down that mental path. Dwell instead on the knowledge this is not an insurmountable problem. Many couples deal with it, and many more resolve it. Care, consideration and attention will get you both over the (ahem) hump.

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Original article appeared at The Good Men ProjectReprinted with permission.

Unedited Photo: Flickr/Pedro Ribeiro Simões

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