The One Tool Sex Therapists Use In Their Own Relationships

Sometimes, waiting for the mood to hit you just isn't enough.

couple high fiving after scheduling sex fizkes / Shutterstock

A technique that I have always used in my stable partnerships — during marriage to my late husband (especially after we had children), and in my current relationship— and recommend to clients is adjusting your schedule so that sex is a priority.

That means adjusting responsibilities for both of you so there is not just a time and place for sex but space for both partners to be emotionally and energetically ready for and interested in sex.


Why is scheduling sex helpful to a relationship?

Scheduling sex, rather than waiting for it to occur spontaneously may sound unromantic, but it's a tool even sex therapists utilize.

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While you may rail against the lack of romanticism in this strategy, it has so many things going for it that I believe might be able to sway you.


The biggest advantage to scheduling sex is that you will actually have it.

Our lives are so busy, and our brains are so distracted by emails and social media that it’s difficult to get anything done. Whatever time is “unscheduled” gets wasted away. We are all affected by this now and our collective attention has gone ‘kaput’. I’m as likely as you are to get sidetracked by a cute video of a baby gorilla who was raised by a human being and then released later in the wild in Africa who then, as a huge, scary-looking adult gorilla, was lovingly reunited with his human daddy.

And look! On the side of the screen there is a really cute video of a cow who nursed a little puppy, and so on, and so on. It’s easy to think that you’ll have spontaneous sex on a relatively open night and then have one or both of you waste so much time online that you’re too tired to do the deed, and you give up in disgust and crawl into bed to sleep.

But there are several other advantages too.

If you schedule sex, it's likely you’ll arrange your life more mindfully.

For instance, few of us really want to have sex after a big meal and a couple of drinks, (and as parents, even though we got a babysitter). We tell ourselves that we will just go out for a quick dinner and then come home and make love. That usually does not happen, because after the big meal, many of us just want to go to sleep. Some of us may even have a little indigestion.


Others feel self-conscious because after that meal, we feel our bellies look huge (not an ideal way to feel, but it’s a common phenomenon) and the blood goes to your stomach, not to your pelvis.

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You might have to skip social outings if you want to have a great sex life with your partner.

I used to get teased by my friends for being anti-social when my children were small because I refused to make plans go out with these couples on the weekend because if we wanted to have sex, it worked better to just eat a quick and light meal by ourselves, tire the kids out, and put them to bed. That gave us several hours to feel connected and sexy and then have yummy sex, including time to have all the delights of foreplay either of us imagined.


Another advantage, particularly for women, is that looking forward to a sexual interlude gives you a chance to do things to get yourself in the mood.

Any woman in a relationship where her partner has more desire than she does could really use that extra time. You can “punch out your mom card” as one of my patients called it, or rid yourself of your work role, meditate, do exercises to get the blood flowing in your pelvis, read erotica, give yourself a sexy bath or shower, or anoint yourself with oils or perfumes.

You have time to really look forward to the sex you know you want to have, knowing that you taste and smell good.

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Three obstacles that could get in the way of scheduling sex with your partner:

1. It feels weird to plan intimacy.

You might wonder, “Who does this?” No one on TV or in the movies ever does this, so maybe it’s just for losers. No, it’s not for losers. Most of the romantic situations we see in the media show people in the ‘lust’ stage of a relationship. That’s a stage where no one needs to plan for sex because it always happens. It pushes out the other activities of life, even if they are important. But that’s just one stage of the relationship. You can’t count on it lasting forever.


2. One or both of you hate planning things.

Another obstacle to this approach is when one of the partners hates to plan anything. We all know people like this. They don’t want to be pressured into anything until the spirit moves them. So, if this is you or your partner, just ignore this method and move on. It won’t work for you.

3. You don’t like having sex with partner.

The last unspoken obstacle to scheduling sex is because they actually don’t enjoy having sex with their partner, so they want to avoid it at all costs. The key to maintaining a good sexual relationship is that sex is reliably pleasant. If your sex is uninspired or unpleasant, this is another problem altogether. If you can’t rely on the fact that when you are having sex with each other, you’ll get certain kinds of touches or activities that are very pleasurable, then you need to focus on learning how to communicate what you want. And if you don’t know what you like, you have to figure that out yourselves, too.

But if you want intimacy with your partner and love it when the two of you make love, you should try making a date for sex. It has worked for me for a long time and it just might work for you.


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Psychologist Aline Zoldbrod Ph.D. is a psychologist and sex therapist near Boston, hosts her own blog on the subject, and is an award-winning author of ‘SexSmart, a book that explains how your family of origin has shaped your sexuality.