Why Maintenance Sex Is so Important in Happy Marriages

And should be on the menu for long-term relationships.

Updated 11/26/19

Yura Shevchenko/Stocksy

Maintenance sex may not sound like the most titillating thing in the world, but it is crucial to the health of your relationship.

When we say maintenance sex, we mean having sex just to have it, even if you don’t feel like doing it. It means keeping the sex up to ensure both people in the relationship are sexually satisfied.

Sometimes your partner wants to get it on and all you want to do is catch up on last season of GoT. Sex sounds time-consuming and annoying. Or maybe when you really want to have sex, your partner always seems to be too tired or stressed.

In long-term relationships, it’s important to have sex even if you’re not necessarily randy. Maintenance sex shouldn’t be the only kind of sex you’re having, but it should absolutely be on the menu.

There Will Always Be Two Different Sex Drives in a Relationship

There will inevitably be times in a relationship when one partner wants to have sex and the other doesn’t. It’s rare for two people to have matching sex drives. It happens occasionally, but to expect that your partner will always want the exact amount of sex as you do is not particularly practical.

In order to make up for the difference, compromises need to be made. The partner with the higher libido must have realistic expectations, while the partner with the lower libido needs to do the same. This is where maintenance sex comes into play.

We’re fed this idea that we should only have sex when we’re “in the mood.” This is how unfulfilled, sexless marriages happen. One partner isn’t “in the mood” and doesn’t think he or she needs to be, and therefore the partner with the higher libido feels ashamed for wanting sex. This leaves one partner feeling hounded for sex all the time and the other pathetic for wanting it—not a healthy relationship.

You Won’t Regret Having It

Maintenance sex is designed to keep both partners content. When you’re in a long-term relationship or marriage, you won’t regret putting in the extra effort to have sex. If your partner really wants you and you just go for it, you’ll feel better afterward.

Obviously, if this is the only way you’re having sex, there is a problem. If you feel fully sexually unsatisfied or are experiencing an unusually prolonged dip in libido, that is a separate issue and you should address it with your therapist or health-care provider.

Sex is like going to the gym: You don’t want to do it before, but once you suck it up and hit the elliptical, you feel amazing afterward.

You Need to Show Up for Your Partner, and Vice Versa

In relationships, you need to show up for your partner. This goes back to that “shame” thing; we think if one person doesn’t want to have sex, we shouldn’t have sex.

Sometimes you need to show up for your partner and be engaged. If you need your partner to make you feel desired, he or she should be willing to do that for you. Sex is a principal part of happy relationships.

Both partners need to be willing to show up for each other and put in the effort. Everyone in a relationship deserves to feel sexy, safe, and happy. Have sex and make a commitment to keep having sex through all of life’s changes, ups, and downs.

It Breeds Intimacy

Sex breeds intimacy. Orgasms release oxytocin, the feel-good bonding hormone in your body. Sex helps you feel closer to your partner. It is the most intimate physical act you and your partner can experience.

Without it, it’s easy to lose sight of your connection. Relationships and a healthy sex life take constant work. You have to check in with each other and take the temperature of your relationship on a regular basis.

Having sex, feeling your partner on top of you, the scent of his or her skin, brings you back into that loving mind-set. Don’t skip out on it just because you’re tired from work and would rather watch television.

Having maintenance sex will remind both of you what you mean to each other. Always take an opportunity to work sex into your schedule. The more you have it, the happier you’ll be. Trust us.

Gigi Engle is a sex educator and writer living in NYC. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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