Time, or lack of it, is the biggest enemy of intimacy. Half of all Americans say they’re too busy. And two-thirds say stress is negatively affecting their lives. That’s why making sex a priority is important.
Dave and Claudia Arp, authors of No Time for Sex, were conversing with one of their psychologist friends. He said, “If you don’t talk, think or read about sex, you’ll soon forget about it. Cliff and Joyce Penner, for their book, The Gift of Sex, interviewed several thousand people. And 75% said that lack of time was the greatest frustration in their sex life. After signing the contract for this book, we sat down with our calendars and marked off the months we thought we’d need to write it. Then life changed.
Making Sex a Priority
Bill went from full-time freelancing to a full-time pastoral position at a church while also keeping our writing and speaking commitments. In essence, he has two nearly full-time careers. In that change came a two-hour roundtrip commute for Bill and our son Caleb. Then God blessed us with more speaking opportunities and my schedule picked up. Then another happy event took place: our oldest son proposed to his girlfriend and they set a date. And then he and his fiancés decided that date was just too far away so they moved it up. We’re thrilled with our new daughter-in-law. So of course we wanted to be very involved in wedding plans and celebrations.
After five months of commuting we grew tired of it. So we fixed up our home and put it on the market. It sold in five days! Then we frantically had to figure out where to move just a few weeks before the wedding. In addition to this, we had two books due in this time frame. This was happening along with our regular parenting responsibilities and speaking schedule. If any couple could claim no time for sex, we’d be in the running. Yet in all of this we have amazingly been able to keep the home fires burning. How? We chose to make sex a priority.
Priority: Talking About It
When scheduling demands first began appearing, we happened to be in the car driving to some obligation. We began to talk over the situation. At first I (Pam) was a little frustrated and a bit melodramatic.
“Bill, I’m going to call the publisher. I’m going to tell them I can’t write a book about sex if I am not going to have any while I write it!”
“Pam,” my husband replied calmly, “I can see why you might feel that way. We have always been authentic in our writing. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to try to fan the flame of our love life instead of bailing out on the project.”
“You know, Bill, this is where many couples are at. No time for sex. I was watching a talk show in my hotel room last week. And the host was saying that most Americans should cut their commitments in half if they wanted to get a sex life back again.”
“I’m sure many couples need to take a hatchet to their calendar, Pam. But we’ve always been a busy couple and yet made time for sex.”
“True. But this time it seems more difficult.”
“It can’t be impossible, though. God wouldn’t call us to an impossible schedule that would starve our sex life.”
Calling Time Outs
“Okay, Bill, here’s the deal. Before when things got crazy, we’d call a time-out and head to a hotel for 48 hours. We’d have a private marriage conference. Just order room service and have sex and relax. What if we tweak that idea?”
“I’m listening…” “What if we make this an eight week book? You know, an eight-week fan-the-flame refresher course? But I think we need to test the idea ourselves for eight weeks and then write it.”
“Sounds like a great idea, honey!” Bill reached over and put his hand under my skirt, “When do we start?” he asked, smiling.
“Right now if you want. But you’ll have to pull over and get us a room. Seriously, let’s make a concerted effort to make sex a priority during the next eight weeks. And then we’ll see if it heats things up a bit despite the schedule and responsibilities we are carrying.”
That’s when we began to discuss how to bring the honeymoon home again.
EIGHT WEEKS TO FAN THE FLAME
Think about it. In the next 3 months do you have eight weeks you two can set aside to make sex a priority? You don’t have to quit your job or spend a month in Europe. And you don’t have to spend two weeks in Hawaii (although that might be great). You just need eight weeks where you both can say, “You are my priority.” If you are taking the nursing state boards or the bar exam, start the eight weeks after the test. But other than some extremely demanding responsibility, set aside the next two months for some red-hot monogamy. (Remember all the stuff we are responsible for? We did it and kept our day jobs. So can you.)
We found the key to success in sex when you are stressed is to feel the need for intimacy. It is impossible to write a book on sexual intimacy without experiencing some along the path. If all couples sensed the urgent need for sexual intimacy and kept the goal and the payoff in mind ( a strong marriage that can weather any storm), then more couples would enjoy passion more often. Sometimes to get the spark a flyin’ again, you need to remember back to why you first got married. You need to remember how things were when you first fell in love.
THE NEWLYWED GAME
The first task of this eight week project to fan the flame of your love is to remember back to when you were newlyweds. The day probably went like this:
Wake up (often by initiating sex).
Shower together (so if you didn’t wake with sex, you made time for a quickie here).
Breakfast (if you had any time left; otherwise grab a granola bar). Then you both run out the door, kissing. While you are kissing you are making plans for the next romantic rendezvous.
“Can you get home for ‘lunch’?”
You worked frantically all morning because nothing, not rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor anything else was going to keep you from your midday “snack.”
You both zoom into the driveway. The minute you get inside the door (or maybe before on the sidewalk), you begin to shed clothes. And once the door is closed you tear at each other’s zippers and buttons in a frenzy of passion.
You enjoy a quick romp and grab a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich to take with you in the car on the way back to work. Midway throughout the day you call each other with messages full of innuendo and remembrances of your magical times together while you make plans for the evening.
“Want to go to the gym and work out together or to the pool and swim and sit in the Jacuzzi?”
“Want me to make your favorite dish?” “You are my favorite dish!” And you flirt back and forth enough to make everyone within earshot jealous by your obvious and open lovesickness.
The evening then may consist of a walk, and a talk. Or it could be a swim, or time in the Jacuzzi, or a romantic movie. You might cook together and feed each other because that’s what lovers do. As newlyweds, you make time for the foreplay and romantic and interesting conversation. Sex is relaxed. And sleep comes easy because you both feel so terrific. Finally, you fall asleep content in each others arms. You wake up to begin the same wonderful routine all over the next day.
WHO STOLE MAUI?
Why does this routine change? In a word, responsibility. The average couple doubles their level of responsibility every 10 years. So by the time you’re a midlife couple you are running everything:
- Running the kids to their numerous outside activities.
- Running the PTA, the church board, or the city council.
- You’re running your own corporation or someone else’s.
- Running to meet friends, to the mall, to get the dog or yourself groomed.
- Running to care for your aging parents, the neighbor, or your best friend.
Life seems to catch couples running to everything except into each other’s arms. While these are all good, worthwhile, and important activities, couples need to make each other something you run to regularly too.
Couples need T.I.M.E together. Here is what we see as the minimum time commitment you should have to maintain. (This is not to deepen or grow a relationship, but just maintain the minimum connectedness needed for a healthy strong marriage with little red-hot monogamy.
Ten to twenty minutes to talk together alone every day. (Time in the car with the kids listening doesn’t count.)
Invest in a weekly date night (or date breakfast or lunch) together for at least 4 hours. (It takes a couple of hours to emotionally connect. And then you want to leave a least a few minutes for sex.)
Make a monthly “day away” policy. At least once a month spend 8 to 12 uninterrupted hours together to reconnect. You can spend time doing things you both enjoy: errands, shopping, exercising, or a relaxing activity or hobby. Be sure you have the house alone (or at least your bedroom) for a few moments of red-hot monogamy sometime during this special day together.
Escape quarterly (or at least bi-annually) for a 48-hour weekend.
Commit to 8 Weeks
Will you give 8 weeks of red-hot monogamy a shot? If so, both sign the commitment section below:
I _________ (husband) do passionately commit to _________ (wife). And I _________ (wife) do passionately commit to _________ (husband) to make you a priority for the next several weeks. I am anxiously look forward to investing in our love life together and producing some red-hot monogamy.
Start of 8 weeks of red-hot monogamy_____________ to end of 8 weeks _______________.
This article comes from the book, Red-Hot Monogamy: Making Your Marriage Sizzle, written by Bill and Pam Farrel, published by Harvest House Publishers. This particular article is part of a chapter titled, “Bringing the Honeymoon Home.” The rest of the chapter describes the steps to bringing the Honeymoon home. We wish we could include them in this article, but we really need to honor the author’s copyright and so we recommend that you find a way to obtain the book to learn the rest of what the authors Bill and Pam have to say on this subject.
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