I’ll be completely honest: 2020 was not great for my wife’s and my sex life. I remember almost a year ago when this all started and there were so many jokes and memes going around about lockdowns and how there was sure to be a massive baby boom nine months later.

Well, that was definitely not the case for us.

Ironically, the more time my wife and I have spent stuck in the house together, the less interested we are in being intimate. Scratch that—the less interested she is in being intimate (I honestly can’t think of a time I haven’t been interested in sex with her).

It doesn’t help that we haven’t had a date night since last March, there’s no family nearby to help out or give us a break, and we have young children who are incredibly demanding of our time and attention. Add to that a lot of general uncertainty and angst about the fate of the world and needless to say, by the time we finally get the kids down for bed every night the last thing she wants is to be romantic with me.

I get it. I really do.

I know when she’s tired and stressed and anxious—which she was frequently during 2020 and has been into 2021—sex is the last thing on her mind.

I know she really does enjoy having sex with me, but there are so many factors that go into her receptiveness to it: timing, energy levels, mood, how much the kids have driven her insane that day, etc.

It’s a lot harder for her to push all those things to the back burner and get into the mood than it is for me.

At the same time, sex is really important for me to feel connected to her. To me, emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy go hand-in-hand. It’s not just about the physical pleasure, either—other aspects of our marriage benefit when we choose to prioritize regular sex. I find myself feeling happier, calmer, and more patient with the kids. Plus, I just find her irresistibly sexy and attractive.

So, after a pretty long lull in our sex life last year, I decided to do something about it. Here are the three things that worked for getting our sex life back on track, even in the middle of a global pandemic:

Please note that I am neither an expert nor a licensed professional, so I can only speak from my own personal experience.

Let her know what you need. I would highly recommend starting with this. Have you actually tried talking to your wife about sex? Like, recently? Like, since the pandemic started a year ago? Because I hate to break it to you, but she’s not a mind reader, and just willing her to be interested isn’t going to magically manifest itself into being.

I feel like society in general has the totally wrong perception of how this is supposed to go. Initiating sex isn’t like a scene out of a Hollywood movie, although there are definitely times for that. A pandemic has not been one of them for us.

As forced and uncomfortable as it felt to give voice to my thoughts about sex, I brought them up with my wife one evening when she was reading quietly on the couch. Notice, I did not bring them up in the middle of making dinner, or when we were trying to get the kids into bed, or while we were fighting. I have learned that the hard way.

I simply told her I miss having sex with her, I wanted to make it more of a priority going forward, and could we please come up with a plan for what we could do individually and as a couple to make it happen.

She was surprisingly receptive and agreed to have a conversation where she shared some of her own feelings, concerns, and suggestions for improving our sex life.

Find a time that works best for you both. Our kids are basically our alarm clocks every morning, so the chance of my wife and I enjoying morning sex is approximately 0%. Some mornings I’m up at 4:15 a.m. to go to the gym, and I’m pretty sure if I tried to snuggle in and pull a move on her then, she’d smother me with a pillow. By the same token, we are both usually so exhausted at night from making it through another day in pandemic America that we just want to roll into bed and go to sleep.

So, we’ve had to get creative. I’ve found that my wife is most likely to be receptive and into sex during the afternoon. I’m not talking about naptime necessarily, because that’s sacred time for her and she has made it clear that it’s her “me time,” which means a break from anyone and anything touching her, asking her for anything, etc.

Which definitely rules out sex.

So our compromise is usually sex right before dinner. We typically let the kids watch some TV to keep them out of the way while we meal prep, and while they’re zoned out in front of Blippi or Cocomelon, we’ll sneak off and get in a quickie. Same goes for the lull between dinner and bedtime. If it’s a lowkey evening and the kids are busy playing or watching something, we’ll take advantage of the free moments. It might not be as romantic or leisurely as we’d like, but we’re both happy and reinvigorated—me, because I got to have sex with my wife, and her, because she got to have sex with her husband and didn’t sacrifice any of her limited and precious alone time or sleep.

Ultimately, it’s about figuring out what works best for you as a couple.

If you both strive to get up before the kids in the morning, give sex a go then. If you’re night owls, that might work great. If you’re both currently working from home, maybe you can schedule a “meeting” or a “long lunch,” and take advantage of an opportunity you wouldn’t have pre-pandemic.

All I can say is that it’s worth it to be flexible, even if it’s not your ideal experience of romantic bliss. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good, and I’m pretty sure some smart guy said at some point that some sex is always better than no sex, so I’ll take it when and where I can get it, thank you very much.

Give her a break. I’m not talking about taking the kids outside for a 20-minute walk while she does the dishes or cleans up in peace and quiet (although I’ve found this is always very much appreciated).

Offer to take the kids for the morning—or the entire day if you really want to score big—on the weekend. Encourage her to sleep in, take a Zoom workout class, then go get a coffee and sit in the car by herself and talk to friends on Marco Polo (at least, this is what my wife does). Somehow, shockingly, she is always in such a better mood when comes back.

And somehow—again, shockingly—she is so much more inclined to want to have sex with me when she has had some time to recharge by herself.

A final note on this: if you can wing it, I would highly recommend giving her a night or weekend away as a Valentine’s Day gift, because I bet she’ll jump your bones right there and then.

Still stumped? Check out our guide of 20 thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift ideas to make your wife feel loved.

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