We live in a world full of deadlines and schedules — right now we’re all scrambling to make long-weekend plans and snatching a moment to buy spring shoes. With bosses breathing down our necks and unfinished spring cleaning nagging at the corners of our mind, who has time for cuddling, let alone sex? But according to Melissa Ord, marriage and relationship consultant and author of The ADHD Effect on Marriage, if you don’t prioritize intimacy, it could lead to relationship meltdown.
“Our lives are so busy that we have a tendency to place things that are immediate over the things that can wait,” Ord said. And often we assume our relationships don’t need immediate attention because there’s nothing wrong at the moment. “But that’s not true,” Ord warned. “Relationships that are not nurtured wither.”
At the beginning of a relationship, it’s easier to keep sex and closeness at the top of our to-do lists. That’s because couples are still in the dopamine stage, when brain chemistry is encouraging them to have more sex. “Typically in the beginning of a relationship, even being exhausted isn’t an excuse not to have sex,” she said, and that’s all thanks to hormones.
But as time goes by, life can get too busy and couples have to consciously prioritize together time according to Ord. “I’m a big believer in, before you get to the point where you realize your relationship is struggling, schedule intimacy into your routine.”
Ord, who is also a contributing author to Married to Distraction, suggested these five tips for making sure intimacy makes into your jam-packed day.
1. Create scared time around bedtime: Turn off your screens and gadgets and enjoy having a quiet moment together, even if it’s just a few minutes before you turn the lights out. You might be surprised at the kinds of conversations that come up when you make a little space in your schedule for them.
2. Find ways to extend foreplay – like creating a sexual bucket list: Foreplay can happen long before you get to the bedroom, or even days before you do the deed. Creating something like a sexual bucket list, which can be as vanilla or avant-garde as you want, gives you the opportunity to talk about and think about sex together. Just make-sure to keep expectations realistic and laugh at yourselves if things don’t go quite as planned!
3. Schedule sex once a week, and plan for it: Bucket list or not, pick one night (or day!) a week when you know you’re going to have sex. “And then think about it, enjoy thinking about it and plan for it,” says Ord. Knowing it’s coming gives you a chance to plan to do something special for your partner, even if it’s something small, like an email at work saying you’re looking forward to next Wednesday night.
4. Create habitual intimacy: This is about creating physical connections, “small gestures that become part of your routine.” For example, consciously deciding to hug your partner every time they get home from work or trying to always hold hands while you watch TV. Ord explains that these small rituals go a long way to keeping couples feeling close.
5. Make “cuddle-time”: Ord and her husband set their alarm clock 10 minutes early every day to have time to spoon. Cuddle-time isn’t just about physical intimacy, it should also be a time to “overtly reinforce each other.” Ord says you should take this time to tell your partner what you appreciate in them. While it may feel a bit forced at first, we all know sincere compliments can make your whole day brighter.