Ever feel like you just don't have the energy for sex during the work week? Between exhausting jobs, kids and other duties, it's hard to fit enough time in the day. But it's not impossible to maintain a good sex life.
As a sex therapist, I see this issue come up with virtually every single couple I work with. Is there anyone out there that isn't afflicted with "busy" syndrome? We're all running around like chickens with our heads cut off, frantically trying to cram everything we can into each waking moment. We can usually keep it up throughout the day, but tend to crash the second we get home.
The problem of course is that all of this chaos leaves very little energy for our relationships. Who can possibly feel sexy when they're drained, cranky, and exhausted? Whether consciously or not, sex starts to take a back burner to the stresses of the day. It gets pushed down further and further on the list of priorities (how many times have you decided to watch Real Housewives instead of having sex?), and for many couples, it starts to fade away completely. If you've ever been in a relationship, you've probably had the experience of not being able to remember the last time you even had sex.
All this being said, fear not! There are plenty of ways to reverse these patterns. This kind of creative sexual problem-solving is one of my favourite parts of my job! Here are some ideas for realigning your priorities and setting yourself up for success:
- Unwind alone first. The easiest way to prime your relationship for more quality time together is to create a daily routine or ritual around relaxation and connection. First, take 10 minutes at the end of the day to de-stress on your own. Try to be as intentional as possible about doing things that help you calm down and put the chaos of the day behind you. If you don't have a good de-stressing routine in place already, try experimenting with a few different things. Take a walk, sit quietly, do some stretches, write in a journal, close your eyes, or have a solo dance party. When you and your partner come back together after your breaks, you'll be better able to connect.
- Next, take 10 minutes to relax together. Spend at least 5 minutes each (or longer, if you have the time) talking about your days. Sit in a comfortable place together and do your best to minimise distractions.
- Have sex early. Hopefully creating a better end-of-the-day ritual will open you up to intimacy earlier in the evening. I strongly recommend having sex before eating dinner, watching TV, and particularly before getting into bed at the end of the night. You'll have more energy, and you won't be setting yourself up for the dreaded "will we or won't we?" bedtime interaction. Tell me if this sounds familiar: It's 11:30, and you're finally crawling into bed, wearing some tattered old pyjamas. You watch the TV for half an hour until your eyelids start to feel heavy. You and your partner exchange a few half-hearted kisses, and you notice the energy start to change. Neither of you directly asks for sex, but you both feel like you should be doing it. You choose to ignore the awkward tension and roll over to go to sleep. You feel a tinge of sadness and regret, but you're just too tired to do anything different. This pattern causes so much frustration for couples, but it can all be stopped by having sex first!
- Think about sex during the day. I'm not talking about doing anything inappropriate here, but it's OK for you to be a sexual being even while you're at work. Let yourself feel desire and arousal. Build up some anticipation to getting home. If you and your partner feel comfortable with it, you can try sending each other sexy messages to help the tension grow.
- Be open to quickies. Of course having long, drawn-out, foreplay-rich sex is wonderful, but it's not always logistically possible. Quickies can be just as pleasurable, and offer an entirely different type of excitement. It makes it a lot harder to put sex on the back burner when you recognise how much fun you can have in as little as five minutes.
- If you have kids, create structure around getting alone time. It's extremely difficult for many parents to have sex before the kids fall asleep, but by that time you're usually too exhausted to connect. Consider making arrangements with a babysitter, friend, or family member to get the kids out of the house for a few hours in the early evening, once a week.
- Make sure you're having good sex, and remind yourself just how good it is. Sometimes — especially when we've gone a long time without sex — we forget how enjoyable sex can truly be. When you feel closed off to sex, try to think about how you usually feel once you've finished having sex. Hopefully you're having sex that feels relaxing and pleasurable. If the sex you're having isn't great, it makes perfect sense that you're not prioritizing it!
- Honour the times when you genuinely don't feel open to sex. There are going to be days when you are just not interested in sex. That's totally OK! Don't force yourself to do something that doesn't feel right or authentic for you.
Sex During the Work Week [Vanessa Marin]
Vanessa Marin is a sex therapist and licensed psychotherapist based in San Francisco.