My last post demonstrated how a simple calendar can be used to help refused spouses document the inactivity of their marriage beds. Simply keeping track of sexual activity (specifically, the lack thereof) can, sometimes, be enough to make a Refuser or Gatekeeper realize that her course of action is wrong. Note the phrase “can be”; it’s not a guarantee, but it’s not unheard of. In any case, the calendar provides documentation of disfunction in the marriage, and is a useful tool for starting to work on changing the marriage.
Using a calendar to track lack of sexual activity and active refusal prior to confronting your spouse and having The Talk™ is helpful. Reality can’t be denied. However, the calendar may be a useful tool for you after your confrontation, and as you and your wife work to change your marriage.
“Schedule sex? As in, make an appointment? That’s so weird!”
Why? After all, when something is important to us, we make sure we set time aside, right? Well, why not time for our spouse? The changing of a marriage usually means trying to resort the order of priorities, and the raising of our spouse from the 99th thing to do on our list to the second spot (remember the priorities: God, spouse, kids, church, world?) can only help. I’m pretty sure everyone knows the illustration of the jar and the rocks, but if you don’t, watch this short clip, and come back: Jar of Life.
If your life is busy, and your wife’s life is busy, it is not unrealistic to expect that you and your wife would, once a week, sit down and synchronize calendars, and find a time, two or three times a week, for the two of you to have private time. In one of his sermons on Real Marriage (can be found on YouTube), Mark Driscoll, former pastor of Mars Hill Church, tells how he and his wife Grace, schedule time together in their planners. Driscoll tells how he and his wife would take their planners and the church’s appointment log, which would contain church functions they had commitments to, and make time for themselves and for their family. As the video explained, if you don’t put the important things in place first, there will not be room for them in your life.
Another method of using the calendar is setting up date and intimacy nights. This following podcast, by the DiLorenzos, of One Extraordinaryy Marriage, tells how they have set up their week so that they have sex twice a week, and in a way that helps to avoid the “If it’s Thursday, it must be sex night” reaction: Scheduling Sex podcast. I will say that Wife and I used this method, back in January/February of 2011, when we re-invigorated our marriage.
In this method, the week is divided up in half (with one day being a “day of rest”). No one night is designated as Sex Night, but each spouse gets a say in choosing one night a week. In our case, we decided that I would initiate sex one time during the first three work days, Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. If I chose to initiate on Monday, Wife would know that I would not initiate any further that week. If I did not initiate Monday, I could initiate Tuesday or Wednesday, and if I did not initiate Tuesday, either, we both knew that we would be having sex on Wednesday.
Wife’s days were Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the same thing held true for her. It would be her choice of which night to initiate sex, and if she did not initiate on either Thursday or Friday, we both knew we would be having sex Saturday. The key for this working, of course, is for the lower libido/no libido spouse to be good-hearted and generous, and willing to commit to keeping his/her word.
This method worked for us, so well, that sometime in March of that year, Wife came to me and said that we didn’t have to schedule sex, as she felt that it was on the table whenever we were in bed together. Others, like the DiLorenzos, continue to use this type of schedule. I have read of others who have different variations of this idea. I know of one couple who set up their schedule so that they had sex on one day of the workweek and one day of the weekend. Another that I know of has set up their schedule so that their Sunday nap after church and dinner includes intimacy before their nap. Nothing says that any of these schedules is sacrosanct.
What should be sacrosanct is the commitment both have to keeping whatever schedule you decide upon.
Objections To Scheduling
The most common objection to the idea of scheduling sex is “lack of spontaneity”. After all, isn’t sex best when the mood strikes, and both of you are really turned on? As Dr. Phil likes to say, how’s that workin’ for ya? How often does the mood strike both of you? Is once a month spontaneity really all it’s cracked up to be? If this spontaneity is supposed to be so great, then why aren’t you happy with what you’ve got? Sorry, but that’s just a canard.
Another objection that is often heard is “But that takes the excitement out of it. You know it coming, and so it’s not exciting.” Again, I could use the “how’s that workin’ for ya?” line, but i think it’s better just to dispose of this argument at the beginning. Because it’s truly a load of codswallop.
First off, while I’m not recommending sin, look at those who are having affairs. Those who are in affairs, who are cheating on their spouses, have to go to great lengths to try to create their opportunities for assignations (how’s that for an old-fashioned euphemism?). These people look forward with great anticipation to the time when they can get away and sin. Scheduled? Yup. Excitement and anticipation? Yup. Again, this is pure sin, but the fact that they look forward to scheduled sex tells you that the act of scheduling doesn’t kill anticipation. (By the way, this bit of analysis I got from Mark Gungor, of Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage.)
Second, knowledge of a sure thing can help the low/no libido spouse build excitement and anticipation, provided that s/he enters into the scheduling with a good will and a generous heart. Often, we hear that most women can’t instantly ‘turn it on’, like flipping a switch for desire, but that they have to get their minds thinking about sex ahead of time. By scheduling sex, by planning for sex, by thinking about the enjoyment and pleasure, many wives can prepare themselves and even ‘get in the mood’ through their preparation and planning.
So, basically, there are really no good objections for scheduling sex. If waiting for lightning to strike isn’t getting the job done, then it’s time to help the weatherman out by scheduling a few lightning strikes ahead of time.
Putting Her On The Clock
The last use I have for a calendar comes for walk-away husbands. One thing I have read about, many times, is the Walk-Away Spouse; this is the man or woman in a marriage who is done. After years of trying, of begging and pleading, they have finally checked out of the marriage and are looking for the parachute.
I know it’s fashionable, as Christians, to tsk-tsk such people. I don’t, however; I don’t celebrate them, but I get them. In Proverbs, it says that hope deferred makes the heart sick; in these people, hope has died, along with love and caring. I get that. Read the ‘anti-testimonies’ on different forums, and you’ll see pain that must make God weep for what His children are doing to each other. And so, with hope all but dead and buried, with love extinguished, it’s just a matter of time before they walk out.
I’ve read many posts by men who say, “When the last child graduates high school…, When the last child goes to college, I’m leaving.” In their minds, they are enduring until that magic date when they can leave their home and walk into a lawyer’s office. But I’m thinking that that’s the wrong approach.
Oh, I don’t fault them for wanting out. As I said, I get that. But since you have committed to serving your time, why not see if you can put the time to good use? If you know that in 3.5 years’ time, you are going to leave your wife, why not tell her now? I’ve told a number of husbands this: Put her on the clock.
By putting her on the clock, letting her know that you are going to bail out of the marriage at a certain point in time, you do her a kindness. If nothing else, this will give her time to prepare for the separation, preparing a new place to live, being sure she can support herself, etc. Second, it may be the final fillip that will spur her into seeking counseling, in order to save her marriage. And third, if nothing else, it’s a kindness.
Wife tells me of a woman in her Sunday School class, whose husband left her after 37 years of marriage. According to Wife, this woman was completely blind-sided by this, baffled by why her husband would do this to her. Since Wife and I are not privy to the inner dynamics of this marriage, we cannot say if there were actually hints or reasons why her husband did this, but in this case, the wife professed to be completely in the dark about his reasons.
By the way, according to Wife, this story does have a happy ending, as the man and woman were able to work out their differences, and have reconciled, and are together again. (Which, you rightly surmise, only strengthens my belief that action results in change.)
Final Word on Calendars
Calendars can be useful in helping to re-start a moribund sex life, in re-igniting the marriage bed, by getting both husband and wife committing to put the needs of their spouse first. And it may be the one tool that can rekindle hope in a dying marriage. The calendar is a tool, not a weapon. Yes, the use of a calendar can be ‘explosive’, but that is its purpose, to break up the logjam that is blocking the healthy flow of a marriage. It’s not for attack, but for healing.