I used to have sex.
Not some sex, but a lot of sex. Dirty sex. Illicit sex. Sex in public places. (I'll spare you the details.) Then I got married—but we were still having sex. Then I got pregnant—and we stopped having sex. Then I became a mother—try to have sex with me, and I will cut you. Then I became a working mother—and it's like this entire piece of my being was hacked away.
In my mind, sex shouldn't be negotiable. It's as important as exercise, eating right, or sleeping. But why is it often the first thing to go in a relationship when something has to give? (Here's a hint: Stop the damn scrolling through social media and go have an orgasm instead! It'll make you feel so much better about your life than the photo of the girl in the bikini on the yacht—I promise.)
I know plenty of working mothers who have sex. But I don't know any working mothers with young children who have regular sex—and there's definitely a distinction. If you're reading this and say, "I do!" then good for you, but I don't like you very much. This is for women who find themselves startled when someone actually touches them. For the women who would rather curl up with a giant glass of wine and Netflix than get naked and have someone enter them.
Maybe it was being pregnant that conditioned me to go longer periods of time without sex. (If you were also one of those pregnant women who just loved having sex, I also don't like you very much.) Maybe it was having my daughter nurse for three solid years that did it. (Nipple PTSD is a real thing, y'all.) Maybe it's spending hours behind phones and laptops that lessens our libidos. Or the fact that we're so busy doing that we forgot to do each other.
As I was recently flipping through my calendar, I came to the horrific realization that not only had my husband and I not had sex in over a month—but that we hadn't even touched each other beyond the perfunctory good-morning or good-night kiss.
Cue the sexual intervention.
I came up with a radical idea after listening to the audiobook of Rachel Hollis' Girl, Wash Your Face. I plied my husband with whiskey and said: "We are going to have sex every day for 30 days. And my orgasm is going to be the goal."
I saw the sparkle in his eye. Giving me orgasms used to be his favorite pastime. When did that change—and more importantly, why? So, it was officially on.
Day 1: We had hot sex. We've got this!
Day 2: Man, The Bachelor is on. And we have the whole second season of Ozarks to watch! Ugh, it's so late. Maybe we can just officially start the experiment tomorrow?
Day 3: Business trip
Day 4: Chocolate + period = get away from me
Day 5: God, we suck at this. Why aren't we having sex?!?
I've realized that my husband and I don't do well with pressure. We were aware we weren't having tons of sex, but calling that out every five seconds didn't seem to be helping. I ransacked my brain for my kinky past, looking for some sort of card to play. I'd been to sex classes, where women gave pink dildos blowjobs with the kind of enthusiasm reserved for cycling class. I'd slept with a woman. I'd had a threesome. I'd had sex in the type of public places that would make most people blush.
So why couldn't I figure out how to have sex in our bedroom that was in our house that we lived in? Obviously, something wasn't adding up.
On a recent podcast interview for my book, I asked the married hosts how they balance working, parenting, and romantic relationships. The wife laughed and said: "I put on a slutty outfit and then we get out of our environment." The husband continued: "When I look at her in our home, I don't see a sexual being. I see a mother."
Talk about a lightbulb moment. I wasn't seeing my husband as a sexual being—I was seeing him as a dad to our daughter. As the laundry folder. As the chef.
If we wanted to have sex, we needed to get out of our environment. Resistance immediately bucked its head. But we have a 6-year-old! We can't just go out for drinks on a random Tuesday night! I'd have to get out of my pajamas, get in the car, and go somewhere! The horror!
But soon, we decided enough was enough and laid some ground rules.
- Put that devil contraption otherwise known as your phone AWAY. Studies have shown that smartphones have pretty much fucked all of our relationships, and especially our romantic ones. If you find yourself staring into your phone rather than into your partner's eyes, lock that fucker in a box and pay attention to the human who loves you. Choose to have an experience—not waste time on your phone. (Read: 5 Things I Learned When I Stopped Bringing My Phone to Bed)
- Identify the time you actually like to have sex. I am a morning sex person. When it's 11 p.m., not only do I not want to have sex, I'm almost resentful at the thought of what we will have to do after we have sex. If that means we have to set the alarm 15 minutes earlier (who am I kidding—more like five minutes), then that's what we'll do.
- Ban your bed. Raise your hand if you have all of your sexual moves down to a science and that most of those happen in the bedroom? Recently, my husband and I had sex in the car in our driveway, listening to some awesome song. It made me feel alive in a way that I haven't in a long time. Get adventurous.
- Make daily intimate a thing. Let's face it: Most of us aren't going to have sex every single day, but we can be intimate. Take five minutes to face your partner and talk about what you like about them. Make out like horny teenagers. Hold hands. Give each other a long hug. Just find time to connect.
- Figure out what turns you both on. When's the last time you asked yourself or your partner what your turn-ons are? Do you even know? I asked my husband that and he was like, "Um…." I mean, really? Nothing? Get your head in the gutter, dude! I know mine is.
- Have an orgasm every day. Okay, if the thought of having sex every day makes you cringe, this shouldn't. Have an orgasm. By yourself. With help. Whatever. My husband bought me the most amazing vibrator, and I literally keep it on my nightstand. It takes three minutes to give me a daily release, so even if we aren't getting busy, I am. (These 13 masturbation tips will help a lot.)
- Stop talking and start doing… each other. Do you know how much time we've actually spent talking about how much we're not having sex? When we could have just been having sex? Sex is an act. It usually connects you and makes you feel better. Just do it.
Regardless of whether you're exhausted or your kids are being little intrusive shits, make sex fun again. Don't take it all so seriously. Be kind to yourself. And realize that you get to set the precedent for how much sex is enough sex in your relationship—not what some article says and not what that bitch who's having sex seven days a week says. Stop listening to everyone else and tune into the man, woman, or partner who's standing right in front of you: How much is enough? How much isn't?
Whatever you decide, enjoy this part of your relationship. Try new things. Surprise yourself… and your partner.
You won't regret it.
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This article originally appeared on Shape.com