It can be hard to consistently find time and energy for sex, and yet we know that the best way to have great sex with your spouse is to have more sex. We get a lot of emails from husbands and wives who want more sex, but for all sorts of reasons it just doesn’t happen. It’s easy to blame your spouse, or to “try harder”, but there’s a tool available to you that you may not have considered and is guaranteed to work: creating a habit.
When was the last time you forgot to brush your teeth? Or put on clothes? Or how to drive to work? You’ve been doing these things for years or decades, and you basically never forget. Sometimes you even drive to work on accident when you mean to go somewhere else! These things are all habits, and you do them easily every day without thinking. They enhance your life, keep you healthy, and satisfy your needs. Bad habits are easily acquired, but good habits don’t just happen: someone creates them. Getting dressed and brushing your teeth seem routine, but your parents worked hard to create those habits for you! In the same way, you can intentionally create the good habit of daily sex with your spouse.
First of all, consider: does your marriage have a bad habit of assuming that you won’t have sex? This is pretty common for married couples. The expectation is set that they won’t have sex unless someone initiates it. The baseline assumption is no sex. That’s a bad habit! Fortunately, the best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit.
Ok, so how do we build a good habit? Tom Bartow has identified three phases of habit formation that we need to recognize in order to be successful.
Phase 1: THE HONEYMOON
This phase of habit formation is characterized by the feeling of “this is easy.” As all married people will tell you, at some point even the greatest honeymoon must end. The honeymoon phase is usually the result of something inspiring. For example, a person attends a highly motivational conference, and for the first few days after the conference the individual is making positive changes in his or her life.
Phase 2: THE FIGHT THRU
Inspiration fades and reality sets in. A person finds himself struggling with the positive habit completion and old habits seem to be right around the corner. The key to moving to the third phase of habit formation is to win 2 or 3 “fight thru’s.” This is critical. To win the fight thru, use the following techniques:
- RECOGNIZE: Recognition is essential for winning the fight thru. When you have entered the fight through, simply say to yourself, “I have entered the fight thru, and I need to win a few to move past this.” Winning each fight thru will make it easier to win the next. Conversely, when you choose to lose a fight thru, you make it easier to lose the next one.
- ASK 2 QUESTIONS: “How will I feel if I do this?”and “How will I feel if I don’t do this?” Bring EMOTION into the equation. Let yourself feel the positive in winning the fight thru and the negative in losing.
- LIFE PROJECTION: If the above 2 techniques haven’t moved you to action, then imagine in great detail how your life will be in 5 years if you do not begin making changes. Be totally honest with yourself, and allow yourself to feel what life will be like if the changes are not made.
Phase 3: SECOND NATURE
Entering second nature is often described by feelings of “getting in the groove.” Once in second nature, the following are 3 common interruptions that will send a person back to the fight thru:
- THE DISCOURAGEMENT MONSTER: An individual allows negative results discourage him or her into thinking, “This isn’t working, and there is nothing I can do.”
- DISRUPTIONS: An individual experiences significant change to his or her current pattern (e.g., vacations, holidays, illness, weekends).
- SEDUCTION OF SUCCESS: An individual begins to focus on positive results and begins to think, “I’m the special one. I have finally figured out how to have great results with not so great process.”
If a person experiences an interruption that sends him or her back to the fight thru, winning 2 or 3 fight thru’s will bring him or her back to second nature.
Here’s how to put this process into action and create a new habit of daily sex.
The first thing to do is have a conversation and say it. Tell your spouse that you’d like to change your daily default from no-sex to sex, that you want the two of you to set the expectation that you’ll be having sex every day. The key here isn’t that you must have sex every single day, but that the expectation is for daily sex — if no one says anything, then assume you’re having sex. Does your spouse agree? If not, then you’re not ready to create a habit because you aren’t both on the same page. Continue your conversation and come back to this post later. To be successful, both spouses need to want to create the new habit.
After you’ve agreed on your goal, start doing it! Have sex every day unless someone asks otherwise. Make sex the assumption, and no-sex the exception. This is the beginning of Phase 1. It’ll probably be easy for a while! Remember your first year of marriage, your literal honeymoon? You’ll want to pick a time that’s usually available every day and start doing it.
But Phase 2 is the hardest part. There may be a few days where no one says anything, and you don’t have sex. Your new habit hasn’t solidified yet. You have to recognize that your expectation is reverting to no-sex, and you need to have a conversation about it. Reaffirm your shared goal of daily sex. Don’t make excuses for why you failed, and don’t feel bad about it. Just recognize the need to “fight thru”. Take the time to get in the mood, muster some energy, and make love. Just Do It. Winning “fight thru” episodes is the key creating a new habit — it will take several wins over the course two or three months to set your new habit in stone.
And finally, don’t become complacent when you hit Phase 3. Periodically remind yourselves about your goal of daily sex, and verify that your new expectation is solidly in place: do you always have sex unless someone initiates a “no”?
Once your habit is in place, you should never have no-sex unless someone intentionally initiates it. The end result won’t be sex every single day of the year — sometimes you get sick, kids drive you crazy, work and chores overwhelm you, and emergencies happen. That’s life! But the expectation every day is that you’ll be having sex together.
What do you think about the daily habit of sex? Is your daily expectation yes, or no?