The Sex Schedule Re-Examined: Where We Are Almost a Year Later

About eight months ago, I wrote an article about the sex schedule my husband and I came up with to ensure we kept our sex life regular and passionate. It was met with mixed reviews, as I anticipated. It’s tough talking about things like sex schedules because, for anyone who has been a victim of sexual coercion, a schedule can feel obligatory, oppressive, and triggering. There are people who say that having a sex schedule plays into the lie that men “require” sex and that wives must make sure their needs are met.

These are valid points; I won’t take anything away from that. For absolute transparency, I’ll note that my husband and I used to have what I would call a sexually coercive marriage. It took a separation, lots of therapy, and my husband addressing the deeper core need behind his desire for sexual intimacy for us to overcome that very difficult problem in our marriage. So, I am no stranger to the trauma of feeling sexually coerced. However, for those of us in sexually healthy marriages, whether our marriages have always been that way or we’ve established them through therapy and hard work, sex schedules can be a very positive thing.

For my husband and me, a sex schedule was simply a tool for keeping us connected. We both have a healthy sexual appetite, and since we both prioritize enriching each other’s lives outside the bedroom, we naturally desire to have sexual intimacy. The sex schedule was a way to make sure we kept things balanced. We knew when to count on sex being part of our day, and when it was off the table. And as I shared in my original article on the subject, the schedule was a suggestion—a guide. It was not mandatory, and it could be rearranged by either of us at any time.

People asked us if it felt overly prescriptive—if it somehow made sex feel mechanical and boring instead of spontaneous and fun. And, speaking only for myself and my husband, we didn’t find it that way at all. In fact, there was a lot of anticipation and fun on the “scheduled” days, with flirting and teasing happening throughout the day as we looked forward to the evening’s activities. It was fun, and erotic, and playful.

However, our marriage is constantly evolving. We worked too hard to get to this place of health and ease to allow ourselves to stagnate and fall back into old routines. For example, although we do not do weekly therapy sessions like we used to, we now have monthly “tune ups” with our respective therapists and with each other to make sure we are continuing to grow as individuals and as a couple. Naturally, as we change, so does our marriage—including our sexual relationship.

Lately, we’ve found ourselves departing from the sex schedule. It just doesn’t seem to serve us in this season of life. Things have been chaotic. My husband has a lot going on at work. I’m finishing the revisions of my manuscript for my editor. We are navigating the declining health of my father and the surgery my mom just had. Our schedules for work and our personal lives (even things like hair cuts and doctor appointments) have necessarily shifted to accommodate our current season. So, of course, our sex schedule has shifted, too. Indeed, we’re not even using it these days.

I’m not keeping count, but it feels like our sex is just as frequent as it was before. And even if it’s a bit less frequent, it is just as passionate and playful. Sex has become something we get to make time for, something we choose to prioritize in the midst of other competing needs. The sex schedule just isn’t needed or even useful right now.

Something I’ve come to realize on my healing and therapy journey has been that everything we do to improve our lives is merely a tool—one that exists among all the other tools we’ve acquired along the way. Tools are meant to serve us, not the other way around. Any tool that I use to make my life easier, better, or more fulfilling should only be used when it’s actually doing those things. If it’s not improving my life in a meaningful way, then it’s simply become an obligation. A burden. A chore.

One more thing to keep track of on an already overcrowded plate.

So, the sex schedule is going back in the tool belt for now. It served its purpose at a time when it was useful to us. Now that it’s not serving us, we can put it away. Perhaps we’ll have need of it again one day, or perhaps not.

That’s the beauty of the tools we collect as we heal and grow. We can use them, keep them, or discard them. As long as they made a season (or seasons) of life better in some way, they were a success. Don’t get fixated or stuck on any tools you use for your mental, physical, or emotional health. Retain and release them as needed, always making sure they are working for you, not that you are working for them.


Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

Check out her blog called Compassionate Feminism on Psychology Today to join a feminist conversation centered in openness, empathy, and equity.

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