Time, or lack of it, is the biggest enemy of intimacy. Americans are generally very busy people, and many of them say stress is negatively affecting their lives. Authors Dave and Claudia Arp, in their book No Time for Sex, recount a conversation with one of their psychologist friends who 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 percent said that lack of time was the greatest frustration in their sex life.
The average couple doubles their level of responsibility every 10 years, so by the time you are 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.
- 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 (not to deepen or grow a relationship, but just maintain the minimum connectedness needed for a healthy, strong marriage with a little red-hot monogamy):
Ten to 20 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 four hours. (It takes a couple hours to emotionally connect, and then you want to leave at least a few minutes for sex.)
Make a monthly “day away” policy. At least once a month spend eight to twelve uninterrupted hours together to reconnect. You can spend the time doing things you both enjoy: errands, shopping, exercising, or a relaxing activity or hobby. Be sure you have the house to yourselves (or at least your bedroom) for a few moments of red-hot monogamy sometime during this special day together.
Escape quarterly (or at least biannually) for a 48-hour weekend.
We think this is a nice formula for sexual success.