The other day I was talking with a woman I know fairly well (let's call her Mary), and asked her what has kept her 25 year marriage going strong. Mary replied that she was a bit embarrassed to tell me this, but that she and her husband practice something they call night on-night off in which they have sex on the nights on, but not on the nights off.
I was really intrigued; sex every other night ... for over 20 years? Most of my clients have sex far less frequently than that, which causes tremendous problems in their relationships. Mary has children, a career, a home and a husband — how does she have enough energy to keep up with this plan? Help! My Husband Wants To Have A Threesome
After questioning her more, I found that she has been doing night on-night off for most of her relationship. After five years of marriage and two kids, she and her husband found themselves with a sex life that was lacking, too many fights and too little communication. Rather than continue with the unsatisfactory relationship, they decided to do something about it.
So, what are the main principles behind the success of night on-night off? Over the years I have developed what I call the 5C Reconnection plan, a plan that has proven to work with hundreds of couples in re-establishing intimacy and connection. Here are three of the components of the plan, successfully illustrated by Mary and her husband.
- Communication. When a problem, issue or concern arises, instead of sweeping it under the rug, sit down and talk about it. Sound simple? It should be, but it isn't always. Finding the time and space to talk on a regular basis is crucial to keeping the connection going. Mary and her husband sat down after months of sexual frustration to determine what the problem was. They had the love, desire and motivation to connect sexually, and by discussing it openly, they were able to come up with a plan that worked for them.
- Compromise. Humans are not easily able to turn the sexual switch on and off. Here is where compromise comes into play. Mary and her husband knew that there would be evenings that were supposed to be "on," that one of them would be exhausted, in a lousy mood, or just not physically or emotionally up for sex. They agreed that under those circumstances, they could move the night on to the next night, but that they would never skip two nights. This gave them both something to work with, something to look forward to and to plan for. The compromise that they both made was to put their own needs aside — temporarily and consentually — in order to commit to the schedule that they had initially decided.
- Commitment. A plan that works for over 15 years requires real, authentic commitment. While we pay lip service to the idea of commitment, do we practice it in our everyday lives? As a couple, commitment means saying no to many things we might want to do in order to maintain and grow our primary relationships. Mary and her husband committed to their plan and then actually did it ... something that many of us fall short on.