Last week, I asked what I should write about for this XO, MU, and a bunch of you said “sex.” Specifically, how can you have more sex (because you want to!) when you have kids, busy jobs, early bedtimes, and are so dang tired all the dang time.
I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, because my husband and I have gone through (and continue to experience) the same challenges. I go to bed super early and he wakes up well before I do, we’ve both navigated serious health challenges (at one point, we both had a concussion), and we seem to alternate high-pressure seasons at work, all of which can make sex start to feel like an afterthought. For us, it came down to three things: we weren’t actively working to make it happen outside of “natural” times (like right before bed), we got a little lazy about making the effort, and we just hadn’t talked frankly about what does and doesn’t work for us.
I asked my husband if I could share the ways we sneak more sex into our days, because we’ve worked pretty diligently to keep things spicy. He’s a good sport and agreed. (Dad, fair warning that this is not a newsletter you need to finish.) So here are my best tips for keeping the connection going during richly scheduled, super distracted, “I want to, but I’m tired” weeks. Note, this isn’t going to talk about having better sex, just more sex. If better sex is what you’re after, start by binging some Esther Perel podcasts and googling “LELO”. Save that last one for when you’re not on your work computer.
How to have more sex (YMMV)
Note: We both work from home, which makes connecting easier (or at least more available). I suspect a lot of you are in the same situation given the pandemic, but these tips still apply if you’re home together limited hours during the week. Our bedroom door locks and God invented the iPad for a reason, just sayin’.
Talk about what doesn’t work. For me, bedtime is the worst time to initiate sex. I’ve spent the last hour doing household and kid-related tasks, and I get up early for the gym—all I want is to go to sleep. So we talked about it, and now he understands why most nights, I just give him a kiss and open my book. Explain to your partner that certain times of day or situations just aren’t conducive to sex (and why), and offer alternatives that work better. Or, discuss how that time of day/night could work for both of you. I can see an “I’ll make the kids’ lunch and clean up in the morning, how about you come to bed and stay there?” working for many a mom.
Make it known. Early in our relationship, my husband started saying, “Hey—I wanna make out with you later,” and that’s become our little code. I know “later” might mean later today or tomorrow or later this week, and “make out” could mean any number of things… but the point is, I’m thinking about a connection now, and that means I’m actively looking for openings that work for me.
Ask for it. This is so overlooked, because we often feel like a long-term partner should be able to read our signals or mood. But if you really want to have more sex, pretend they can’t and use your words. I will literally interrupt him mid-day and say, “Hey, do you want to have sex?” Sometimes we’ll go straight upstairs, other times he’ll say, “Yes. Later?” (And sometimes he says no, but at least he knows I want to, and that means a lot to him, and I don’t take it personally.) Does it take some of the spontaneity and mystery out of it? Maybe. Do you care once you’re in it? I sure don’t.
Warm up. Sometimes I want to, but I’m distracted by work stuff, household stuff, or whatever, so I’ll say, “Meet me in 15” and pull out my Kindle. I have a few spicy books downloaded for this express purpose—something I know will get me in the mood fast. (Note, whatever you use here, make sure it’s not a secret from your partner. That could feel icky.) I’m also a huge fan of taking responsibility for my own pleasure, so I’ll say: “I’m distracted right now, but if you did this, this, and this, I’d warm up fast.”
Make it quick. Sometimes I want to, but we’re also very busy, so one of us will ask for a quickie. (Pro tip: invest in a few toys to help things along.) These can be surprisingly hot and fun, they’re easier to say yes to even if you’re distracted, and we still get the connection we’re looking for. Plus on busy/distracted days, it removes all expectation that this will be a full-on “encounter,” the pressure of which can get me inside my head and out of my body.
Bonus tip: Have some designated “no sex” time. If one of you turns every kiss or long hug into a sexual advance, no wonder you’re not connecting as often. It’s super helpful for regular intimacy to let a long kiss stay a kiss, or a butt-grab stay a butt-grab. Break this pattern by agreeing on a block of “zero sex” days where you stick to second base only and see how it feels to get physical without the pressure of turning it into sex. Then you can institute…
Bonus tip: Do something else. If one of us just isn’t up for it, we’ll explore whether anything else might feel good right then or later, from just making out for a minute to snuggling on the couch to… whatever. Intimacy equals more than just sex, so if any other avenue of physical connection would work, go for it, and don’t feel like you’re settling. Expanding your definition of “sexy time” might just be the missing piece in having more.