You might consider scheduling sex with your partner for a number of reasons: Perhaps you’ve been together awhile, life’s busier with kids and careers, the novelty of sex has worn off, and you’re not having sex as often or at all. Maybe you have a disability or medical condition that makes it necessary to plan ahead with the right supplies and assistive devices. Maybe you and your partner have mismatched libidos and need planned sex dates to better define a frequency of sex that works for both of you. Whatever the reason, scheduling sex in marriage or in a relationship can help strengthen connection and intimacy.
7 tips for scheduling sex
We spoke with four experts about how to make scheduling sex more enjoyable. Their tips can help you learn how to plan your sex dates effectively and strengthen intimacy and connection in your relationship.
1. Make sure you’re on the same page.
Communicate with your partner about your desires and goals for scheduling sex. Do you want to get out of a rut, build more intimacy, learn more about what turns both of you on, be more accommodating to a partner’s health or emotional needs? Sex therapist and clinical psychologist Daniel Sher tells O.school that creating a schedule for sex should be a collaborative process: “Be attentive and sensitive to the needs of your partner, while ensuring that your own needs are also being expressed.”
2. Don’t ignore underlying issues.
It’s normal for couples to have less sex when the novelty wears off and priorities shift due to kids, work, and other responsibilities. You might even find yourself in a sexless marriage. Before you make a schedule for sex, though, consider the factors affecting your sex life. “It’s definitely important to understand why sex is not happening before jumping to the conclusion that it’s a scheduling issue,” sexual counselor and physician Dr. Sonia Wright tells O.school. Issues like “low libido or pain with sex or not feeling connected,” as well as erectile dysfunction and mental health conditions like depression can impact a person’s desire. Other relationship conflicts (financial troubles or parenting disagreements, for example) can impact your sex life. Consider working with a healthcare provider or couples’ counselor to help you get to the root of the issue. From there, you can try to reinvigorate your sex life with planned dates.
3. Know that sex doesn’t have to be spontaneous to be hot.
Some may feel resistant to scheduling sex because they believe sex must be spontaneous to be hot. But psychotherapist Dr. Raffaello Antonino says the idea that “sex should only happen spontaneously is a romanticized and unrealistic view at best.” For many, sexual desire rarely happens on its own; instead, it occurs in response to stimulation, a concept known as “responsive desire,” outlined in the book Come As You Are by sexuality researcher Dr. Emily Nagoski.
Therapist Sarah Kaufman, LMSW tells O.school, “Responsive desire means that you may require some sort of stimulation to become aroused. This could include physical touch, like holding hands, or even intellectual or mental stimulation, like connecting over a romantic dinner. Especially for people with responsive desire, scheduling sex can be useful, and even sexually stimulating, because it can give you time to prepare and get excited.”
4. Pick the right time.
Dr. Wright recommends you and your partner nail down days and times that work for your schedules. It’s important to take into consideration responsibilities like jobs, kids, as well as your self-care time.” Dr. Wright cautions that you should avoid scheduling sex at a time when you’re likely to be tired: “Then it turns into a duty and not much fun.” If “being tired” is a reason your partner often uses for not wanting sex, however, it’s worth asking them more about it: Are there times of day when they don’t feel tired? Can you alleviate any of their stressors or tasks so they can feel more rested? If you suspect tiredness is an excuse they’re using to avoid sex, speaking with a couples’ counselor is a good next step.
5. Prioritize your sex date.
Kaufman tells O.school that it’s important to commit to, and honor, the times you set aside for sex with your partner. “Protect your sex date the way you’d protect an extremely important meeting with your boss. Try not to think of it as a meeting that can be moved. Of course, this is not to say that it can’t be rescheduled or canceled if you or your partner(s) aren’t in the mood or in an emotional place to be having sex. As long as everyone is happy, healthy, and willing, protect the sex date so that it is not forgotten.”
6. Make it special.
Making a sex schedule is an opportunity to create a new ritual together that can add depth to your partnership. You might even consider the act of scheduling itself as a form of foreplay. Build anticipation by dirty talking about the upcoming date or sending sexy text reminders, for example Kaufman says, “Show up with willingness and intention. Scheduling sex is as fun or as not fun as you want it to be. It can be an agenda-less date on the calendar, or it can be an exciting, exhilarating event for you and your partner(s) to explore and connect.”
When you’re working together to craft your schedule, take into consideration what gets both of you in the mood, whether you’d like to incorporate any props or toys, and what environment helps you feel comfortable. Discuss whether you want to prioritize trying new things during your sex dates, or if there’s something that turns you on like sensation play, role play, or music, that you’d like to include each time.
7. Evaluate if scheduling sex is working.
Dr. Antonino tells O.school that it’s important to check in about whether scheduling sex is working for both of you: “Be aware that a sex schedule is just a schedule and that it can be changed, postponed, or abandoned altogether scheduling sex should be understood more as a general plan than an exact set of steps that have to be followed.” Sher agrees, telling O.school: “A sex schedule must be designed to improve your relationship. If one of you feels pressured or coerced as a result, it’s important to rethink your strategy and find a different way of re-establishing intimacy.”
Benefits of scheduling sex
Besides just helping you and your partner be intimate again, scheduling sex can positively impact your relationship overall. Here are just a few of the benefits of scheduling sex in your marriage or partnership.
- It builds trust. Making the effort to schedule sex can show that both partners are willing to compromise and prioritize the other's needs. Even if one partner has a lower sex drive and rarely desires sex, being willing to have sex at a regularly scheduled time shows that their partner’s needs are important to them. Likewise, a partner with a higher sex drive agreeing to wait for a set time to initiate sex shows care and respect for their partner’s preferences.
- It encourages communication. Talking about sex can feel scary or vulnerable, but creating a schedule for sex is a great opportunity to get closer to your partner and improve your communication. Dr. Antonino tells O.school that, whether or not you decide to stick with scheduling sex over the long term, “this team activity will strengthen the sense of partnership which ultimately can benefit the relationship and the chances of enjoying one another, including with sex.”
- It minimizes excuses. If one partner always has a reason for avoiding sex — if they’re never “in the mood” or always “too busy” or “too tired” for sex — making a schedule removes excuses and ensures that you either address any underlying issues or make sex a priority in your partnership.
The bottom line
If you’re not having as much sex as you’d like to, scheduling sex can help you maintain a sexual connection with your partner. Making sure that you’re on the same page about what you want from your sex life, taking the time to make your sex dates special, and maintaining open communication and flexibility throughout the process can help make the scheduling process hotter. If you find that you’re in a sexless marriage and scheduling sex working for your relationship, consider other solutions for getting the spark back.