How Being Intimate Just For 'Maintenance' Can Actually Improve Your Relationship

Before you begin to express your sexuality, you might have a different view of sex altogether. Over the years, we've essentially seen the same portrayal of sex on the big screen. It's always been a fiery, passionate act where two people just cannot keep their hands off each other and need to get it on ASAP. And at the start of a new sexual relationship, sex can feel that way. But as time passes, things change.

With busy schedules and tight deadlines, it can be hard to find some quality time where you're not exhausted or stressed. Sometimes, you and your partner have to handle mismatched libidos. Having children can also complicate your sex life because there are always more pressing matters at hand. For these reasons and more, it's unsurprising that a study found that 15% of marriages are sexless.

While it is possible for marriage without intimacy to last, it isn't ideal. Sex plays a big part in a healthy marriage. As we all know, it's a way to keep the romance alive through the years, but on an emotional level, it does much more than that. It strengthens intimacy, relieves stress, helps you understand your partner better, and further fuels your meaningful connection. While everyone wants these things in a relationship, it's difficult to make a consistent effort. If you're in a situation like this, maintenance sex might be the answer to your problems.

What is maintenance sex?

Instead of waiting until all the stars are aligned to have sex, you set out times in the week to have maintenance sex. If that feels too restrictive, you can keep things more open-ended. In this case, you make an honest effort to have sex by asking your partner if they're in the mood for it more often, instead of letting things go on as they are. At its core, maintenance sex is about consistently prioritizing sex.

As Chris Kraft, Ph.D., director of clinical services at the Sex and Gender Clinic at Johns Hopkins Medicine Kraft explained to Hopkins Medicine, "The couples who make an effort to have sex on a regular basis — even if it's not the perfect scenario — have more satisfying sex lives," continuing, "Many women report feeling arousal after the intimacy is initiated."

It's a common misconception that maintenance sex ends at sexual intercourse when in reality, it's a practice that seeks to enable couples to have honest discussions about sex. Even for couples who have been married for years, sex can be a hard topic to talk about because of the unnecessary shame and awkwardness that comes with it. Maintenance sex gives you the space to acknowledge how long it has been, how that discrepancy makes you feel, and the importance of sex. It's completely normal to find maintenance sex unromantic at first, but as time goes by, you might just feel your improved intimacy make up for the initial awkwardness.

Make maintenance sex better with these strategies

Before you plan your maintenance sex, you should address the root cause of your sexual intimacy problems. Have a chat with your partner about the emotional and external stressors preventing you from having sex. Brainstorming creative solutions to these problems together can further contribute to your communication skills and bring you closer to your partner.

If sex has simply gotten a bit boring over the years, discuss how you can spice things up. Don't let shame keep you from communicating your sexual fantasies with your partner. Remember that intimacy reaches far beyond the confines of sex. Try to make your partner fall in love with you all over again to reignite that spark. Plan date nights, take a couple's vacation, and set out some time every week for just the two of you to do non-sexual activities you love. When it is time to get physically intimate, keep your phones, laptops, and TV out of the room. Be present with your partner.

Although maintenance sex can be great for couples who are struggling, it can get a bit boring in the long run, so try to sprinkle in some spontaneous sex here and there to keep things fresh. Maintenance sex has faced some criticism because it's believed that it borders on non-consensual sex due to one person not totally being in the mood for it, so it's vital to ensure your partner is 100% on board with the idea before initiating anything.