I was chatting to a friend of mine the other day and she told me a story that she’d read, about a married couple that hadn’t had sex in a long time (I think she’d mentioned ‘a year’). So, that couple decided to do an experiment and decided to have sex once a day, every day, for a month.
Yes, that’s right. Once. A. Day. For a month. And, to top that off, they had kids, so it’s not like they had access to the entire house with lots of rooms to add some creativity to the shagging. Now, I’m all for a bit of fun and there’s no way I could go a whole year without having sex.. but every day? The only thing I fantasise about doing every day is having 10 minutes to wash my hair.
Just like all of you that are reading this, my reaction to her was a head-cocked, squinty-eyed “What the actual… f… ?! Are you serious?” She was. *They* were. It was a real story about real people that wanted to explore the fading spark in their marriage. Apparently this couple admitted that there was love there, and things were fine with the family dynamic, but they were looking at each other and feeling like roommates. They had a shared interest in the kids, the mortgage, the bills, the food shopping. But that “I really fancy you right now” flutter of attraction was pretty much non-existent.
Raise your hands high, we’ve all been there. It’s inevitable that years, time, age, careers.. it’s all a kind of happy distraction, and one that takes us out of the habit of focusing on the “you and me”.
This conversation stayed with me all day (partially because I was impressed with that kind of single-minded dedication to fooling around) and I decided to read about it more, both from the couple’s perspective and also from a physiological one. Because, the consistent chemical reaction to the body over that period of time must have a pretty awesome effect.
Apparently, both for men and women sex helps the brain feel not only euphoric, but also shuts down the ‘voice of reason’ and human behaviour, meaning you can literally get lost in the moment. It also helps release a whole lot of oxytocin, which is the “cuddle hormone”. Not only is it a beneficial hormone individually (in women its hugely present during labour as well as breastfeeding) but it’s also the hormone that helps two people bond after sex. Oxytocin is also released a little even if you hug someone closely or show small signs of affection and touch. It’s kind of like having access to a love drug inside your body, but you just have to figure out how to unlock it.
And as far as the couple: apparently, even though sometimes it felt like a chore, having sex once a day generally made them crave it more often after the experiment was over. It also made them more playful with each other, more communicative, less likely to be stressed over little things, and made them feel connected to the “couple” part of their marriage, rather than just focusing on the Mum/Dad roles that they inhabited all the time.
Now, I didn’t go all crazy and run home to instigate this 30-day bonk-fest to my husband (he travels a lot for his work so we’d actually have to be in the same room to do this experiment anyway). But what I did realise is how important it is to make the effort and remember who I was so long ago, and who *we* were. Those two people that fell in love 10 years ago when we had time to find out who we were (separately *and* together). Kids or no kids, we’re still the same people, right? My excuses of “ugh I’m so tired” or “I don’t feel like it” have started to become a rote response. I actually want to notice the way my partner looks at me across the room. Because he does, still, after 10 years. But I’ve stopped paying attention.
To be realistic: yes, as parents, it’s hard to find the time for anything, let alone sex. I don’t think about sex, I’d rather think about Costa. Getting dressed for work, kids’ activities, cleaning god-knows-what off the kitchen floor… all of that comes first (pun intended).
We all snigger and blush when we talk about which one of us read “50 Shades of Grey”, or some of us like the idea of Tom Hardy showing up on our doorstep with flowers (well, at least I do). We all spend time every single day making the effort to eat healthily, or get some exercise… why not spend some time kissing? Hugging? A cheeky bum-grab? Getting it on after the kids go to bed? I mean, it may feel a bit awkward at first, and there’ll definitely some “what are you on about” giggles, but there’s inevitably a nice reward at the end of it. No, bedroom shenanigans are not necessarily what I mean. I mean: the love.
We get to remind ourselves that the two most important people in the family dynamic is *that* couple from so long ago. Just us two. The couple with the love story that started this caffeine-fueled, nappy-dominated, career-ladder-climbing, sleep-deprived journey. What do we have to lose? Nothing (except a few minutes. Or longer…). And everything to gain.