We asked Tami Kulbatski, psychologist and co-author of 10 Commandments for Couples (Zeig, Tucker and Theisen, 2011), for advice on how to put sex at the top of your priority list this year. "When couples don't prioritize loving in a sexual way, intimacy finds its way to the bottom of the to-do list," she explains. "And we all know that when we don't use it, we lose it."
1. Schedule intimacy
Sure, it sounds unromantic, but one of the best ways to make sex a priority is to schedule it. "As a psychologist that works with many couples, I cannot stress enough the importance of scheduling sex into a busy lifestyle," Kulbatski says. Surprisingly, when it comes to the element in people's lives that is most strongly correlated with happiness -- healthy, loving relationships with their significant others -- many people overlook the importance of scheduling, she explains. "So, just like you program your iPhone's alarm to go off the morning your dry cleaning is ready for pickup, schedule a reminder for sex with your partner."
2. Avoid overscheduling your life
The feeling that there just isn't enough time in the day is a common sentiment among busy people, and it's one of the most common excuses couples give for lack of intimacy in their relationships, Kulbatski says. "Although it is true that children benefit from extra-curricular activities, and that business meetings need to be attended, when lives get overscheduled, intimacy gets neglected," she explains.
Rather than let your love life suffer, commit to simplifying your life by saying "no" to a social engagement every now and again or giving yourself a break from certain obligations. "You can be instrumental in creating that elusive time for intimacy."
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3. Date your partner -- regularly
When was the last time you and your spouse went out on a date? If birthdays and anniversaries are the only times you get out as a couple, it's time to increase the frequency of nights out together. "It is imperative that couples make plans to go on a date with one another no less than once weekly," says Kulbatski. She advises that, ideally, couples should commit to a particular day of the week and carve it in stone.
It is also a good idea for couples to make any arrangement necessary (such as securing a babysitter) well in advance. "Going on regular dates with your partner is a wonderful way to promote romance in a relationship," says Kulbatski. "And, as you likely noticed in the early stages of your relationship, romance and intimacy are highly correlated."
4. Do double duty
Having sex more often can be as simple as finding new ways to make time for it. "Often times, as a result of distraction, fatigue or a hectic lifestyle, couples miss out on opportunities to be intimate with one another," says Kulbatski. Instead of resigning yourself to the idea that you're simply too busy, adopt what she refers to as a "double-duty mentality."
For example, invite your spouse into the shower with you or have lunch at your partner's office and lock the door behind you. "Make a conscious effort to seek out double-duty opportunities for you and your partner to rediscover one another." Get creative. There are likely more occasions for sex in your busy week than you realize.
5. Establish a bedtime ritual
Going to bed at the same time as your partner whenever possible can be beneficial when it comes to putting intimacy back on your radar, Kulbatski says. At best you're in the bedroom at the same time, making sex a real possibility (rather than one person being too tired by the time the other comes to bed). At worst, you end up with a good night's sleep.
Going to bed at the same time also helps couples to reap the benefits of pillow talk, the psychologist explains. "Conversation that takes place in the intimate setting of a bed can contribute to a more satisfying relationship," says Kulbatski. Rather than reading or watching TV, enjoy each other's company before bed as a way to really improve intimacy.
Making time for sex might seem like a frustrating task among all of your other commitments, but intimacy is an important part of your relationship. Make an effort to prioritize sex as a way to improve your bond, recapture romance and maintain the spark between you and your spouse.
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