How to stay intimate when life gets in the way of sex

Even when life gets in the way of sex, there are still ways—easy ways, in fact—to give and receive some of the essential things that sex contributes to a relationship.

There is a lot of adult life stuff competing for your time. Maybe you’re the parents of young children and you’re having to choose between sex and sleep. Or perhaps you’re working on your masters or PhD and having to choose marathon study weekends over sweet lovemaking. Maybe in order to keep your job, you had to start traveling for work, leaving little time for sex. Or maybe between that family reunion, a best-friend’s bachelor/bachelorette party, and an unplanned trip to IKEA, sex just isn’t going to happen this week. Whether it’s some really big life changes or a seemingly endless string of silly obligations, sex seems to be one of the first things in a couple’s life to take a back seat when time is short.

In some cases, it’s a matter of getting your priorities straight. After all, sex is an extremely important and essential component of coupledom and life in general. To a couple, it’s a means of unspoken communication and reaffirmation, an intimate expression of affection, a way to care, a way to give, a way to bond, and an opportunity to let go and be vulnerable together. In essence, sex is probably one of the last things a couple can afford to let go in a relationship when they’re feeling the squeeze of adult life. But in other cases, especially when it comes to big life changes such parenthood, starting a business, traveling for work, or finishing that degree, there’s not much choice. Sometimes there’s just no room for sex.

With a little creativity, a conscious effort, love, and as little time as it takes to shower and brush your teeth, it is absolutely possible to sustain intimacy and a sexual connection through some challenging times—even when you go weeks without being awake and naked in bed at the same time.

Enthusiastically encourage each other to masturbate

First thing’s first—if one or both of you has any hang-ups or insecurities about your partner/spouse masturbating, the first thing you can do to help your sexual relationship is to rethink the concept. Stop and read our article, “Positive perspectives on masturbation in marriage and relationships”. Learn to love the idea of each other enjoying his or her own body. For many, the thought of their partners masturbating is actually a huge turn-on. Think about the pleasures that you have enjoyed on your own and wish the same for your partner.

It’s one thing to be passively “totally okay” with whatever your partner does with their “personal time”, but to actively encourage and support each other freely enjoying themselves when the two of you are not able to connect is not only titillating, but it also expresses genuine interest in his or her pleasure and wellness. Wanting each other to enjoy sexual release regardless of whether or not the two of you are able to sync up is a natural extension of wanting to pleasure one another when in bed together.

Orgasms to go

Shortly after my wife and I were married, my wife suddenly found herself having to travel for work—sometimes up to three weeks out of the month. She would come back home for the weekend though, and although the “so glad you’re home sex” was nothing short of glorious, as relative newlyweds in our mid 20s, we were used to a lot more sex—really good sex. Getting through the rest of the week was frustrating at times. After months of hot just-married sex whenever we wanted, solo evenings of microwave meals and just-get-it-done-so-you-can-fall-asleep masturbation felt very lonely to both of us. It even began to cause stress when she was home for the weekend because we felt so much pressure to fit sex into the short weekend that tensions would rise when one of us wanted or needed to fit something else into the weekend, such as visiting with friends or family, instead of reconnecting and having sex.

After a few weeks of this routine, I had an idea one Sunday evening as she was packing for her Monday morning flight. I walked over to the drawer where I knew she kept a very discrete and travel-friendly vibrator [insert link for discrete vibrators at affiliate store], pulled it out, and put in new batteries just to make sure it was good-to-go. I walked over to where she was packing her suitcase, set it on top of her clothes, looked her in the eye, and said, “Since you’ve always got a room to yourself, you should take this with you and enjoy yourself—relieve some stress”. She laughed a little and I was afraid she was going to chicken out over baggage check or something, but she didn’t. She opened her eyes wide, smiled, and said, “okay! Thanks—that’s a good idea!”

Just by making the suggestion and her reacting with happiness over it, we initiated a sexually charged intimate moment together that could would be continued and enjoyed even when were apart. By packing her vibrator, I knew that I was essentially giving her an orgasm to go and, in a way, participating in my wife’s pleasure regardless of whether or not we were sleeping in the same bed. That instantly made our sex life feel healthy, full, and exciting despite us being apart. From that point on, I always made it a point to make sure her vibe was packed anytime she left. I’d remind her that I had put it in there and that I’d be thinking about her using it. And when she returned, we’d often tell each other how we went about getting off on our own. This sharing essentially became verbal foreplay that brought our sexual connection full circle, and almost always ended up in amazing sex when she was back home.

I’m thinking about you.

As happy and turned on as I was by how well traveling with the fancy vibrator was working out for my wife (it was, after all, my idea), I have to admit I was a little jealous too. Thinking about her getting off was great, but at night it was still just me in bed with my same boring right hand that I had used just a couple of hours earlier to make a sandwich, pet the dog, and take out the trash. After getting spoiled to really great sex, my hand seemed pretty lame. A hand—especially your own hand—feels nothing at all like sex. So, with my wife’s encouragement and blessings, I ordered a Fleshlight [NSFW]. This alone was really cool. The idea of the Fleshlight seemed a little awkward at first (the name alone sort of made me cringe), but those feelings went away because the Fleshlight felt far more wonderful, stimulating, and sex-like than my own hand, created a much more immersive solo experience, and it was just more fun and interesting than my own hand.

My wife’s support of this alone was nice. The Fleshlight [NSFW] was definitely a luxurious upgrade to the masturbation experience, and it provided a fun distraction for the nights alone. But then she did something really funny, simple, and smart that once again made us connect sexually even when apart. About mid week during one of her business trips, I got the urge at bedtime and reached into the drawer where we kept the Fleshlight. As I pulled it out, to my absolute surprise, I found a sticky note on it with a smiley face I was bowled over by this simple, playful, sexy gesture of love.

And love is truly what I felt. This simple little sticky note showed me for certain that she was thinking about me too, and that she genuinely wanted me to enjoy myself. And as I enjoyed myself, it felt so different than any other time I had ever masturbated in my life. I felt like I was actually sharing that experience with my wife—that I was receiving something wonderful from my wife—even though she was miles away. I’ve always had a fairly healthy attitude towards masturbation—I wasn’t instilled with too much in the way of shame over sex when I was growing up—but after I was finished that night, I looked at the sticky note and just had this very strong feeling that I had done something really good and healthy. And, because of that note and that knowingness on the part of my wife, there was a real feeling of intimacy. I genuinely felt as if I had just had sex.

What was even better was that talking with my wife about it when she returned was really hot. And although we did have some great “so-glad-you’re-home” sex, we also didn’t feel rushed and pressured by one another to make sure sex happened as soon as possible when she got home. Thanks to the relief we enjoyed on our own from mutually encouraged “self care”, we were relaxed and happy. We couldn’t wait to hook up again, but we were relaxed and happy.

The gift of time.

When things get especially busy, one of the greatest things partners can do for each other when they aren’t able to sync up for sex is to find ways to give one another time for some self-care. [Insert related article on self-care.] Self-care can include a lot of different things, ranging from taking a long bath and shaving legs, to catching up on sleep or even masturbating—whatever it is that is falling behind in life while you and your partner are focused on other things.

Imagine you have a fiancé who is working on her PhD and hasn’t had time to deal with her own laundry or to get her car inspected. There’s a weekend coming up and she’s got a thesis due Monday. The two of you have been through weekends like this before, and you know that there’s just not going to be room for sex. You both want it, but it’s going to have to wait. There is still a way to share intimacy and love even when time is nil. Give her a little bit of time and tell her specifically how to spend it.

Go to her and tell her the plan, which is for you to go do all of her laundry, take her car to get inspected, and that you will bring back dinner. During the two hours you take to do that, her job is to take a break from the thesis writing, take a luxurious bath, have an orgasm [insert article links, “women’s sex toys, a buying guide for guys” and “guy’s sex toys, a buying guide for women”] and take a nap. When she wakes up, you’ll have dinner ready. After dinner, she can get back to her thesis.

It’s one thing to just thoughtfully take care of some chores for a busy significant other, but to help guide your partner towards what to do with the time you are saving them conveys a lot more to them than just a desire to help them out—especially when you urge them to take advantage of the time to relieve some stress with an orgasm. It’s a matter of “divide and conquer” rather than being conquered by the divide. It’s as if to say, “just because we don’t both have time for sex this weekend doesn’t mean we can’t show each other we care and both have orgasms”. This again shows an interest in your partner’s wellness and the sexual spark between you even when there isn’t time and energy for you to put your bodies together.

One afternoon while I was at work, I received a very surprising text from my wife. I just had a bath, an orgasm, a beer, and a taco all in one hour.

A bath, an orgasm, a beer, and a taco.

Fast forward a few years and my wife had stopped traveling for work. We happily resumed a robust whenever-we-wanted-it sex life and the Fleshlight that I had so enjoyed while she was traveling began to gather dust. We were having such a great time together, in fact, that we made a baby. And then, about a year and a half later, we got busy and made another. We soon found ourselves in a situation somewhat similar to when she was traveling for work—sex only on the weekend…maybe…if we were lucky.

We won’t turn this into an article about the challenges of parenting, but know this much: having two young children around makes hooking up for sex extremely challenging. Sleep, a rare commodity, is almost always chosen over sex when there is time alone together in bed. Despite exhaustion and dealing with so many very, very unsexy things throughout the day though, when either of us does have a bit of energy, we’re the same lustful young people who made those babies in the first place and sexual tension builds up without any time or privacy to release it. So often, it’s impossible to be alone together or even alone individually.

One afternoon while I was at work, I received a very surprising text from my wife. “I just had a bath, an orgasm, a beer, and a taco all in one hour.”

“Wow,” I replied. “That’s like an entire awesome weekend packed into an hour.”

I was really happy for her, but I couldn’t figure out how in the world she managed that. It turns out that some mommy friends of hers watched our kids while she ran back to our house to get something she had left behind. Her friends said to take her time, so she did. She took an hour and did a whole slew of things that made her feel good.

I thought back to when she was traveling for work and how we kept things going even we were apart by encouraging each other to enjoy “self care”, and I realized that I could package up what her friends gave to her—time to enjoy herself—and give that to her all the time. (And maybe she could even do the same for me.) Again, half the point though is to encourage your partner to take the time that you are giving them to specifically enjoy things that make them feel good and well—and that doing so will make you happy.

So, when the weekend is shaping up to be one of those weekends where there is no way for us to be alone, awake and in bed together long enough to have sex, we take turns giving one another an hour or so alone in the house and encourage each other to take that time to do all the things that make us feel good, including masturbation. I simply tell my wife, “I’ll take the kids to the store, you have an orgasm, a taco, and a beer.” And when we come home, mama is in a great mood.

It’s not just about us “getting off” though. When I do this for my wife or when she does this for me, there is truly a sense of giving. Even if I don’t get a turn to have an orgasm, a taco, and a beer, I feel a lot of satisfaction and a sense of intimacy when I allow her to. When she’s having that orgasm, that taco, and that beer in the glorious quiet and privacy of our empty home, I made it possible for her to experience that. And while I’m at the grocery store with the kids, picking up bread and paper towels, I’m picturing her at home enjoying herself and it’s an awesome mental image that makes me happy. To me, it’s the next best thing in our situation to me actually giving her that orgasm, making that taco for her, and handing her that beer myself, just like I did every weekend before we had kids and before she started traveling for work.

The “golden rule”, but with orgasms

Essentially, staying intimate and sexually connected even when life gets in the way is all about doing unto your significant other as you’d have your significant other do unto you. Think about what would make you feel special or sexually excited when your partner is away. Maybe a new toy (or your first toy)—a high-tech vibrator [link] or a Fleshlight [link], a surprise note in your underwear drawer saying “I took a pair and I’m thinking of you”, a smiley face sticky on your pillow, or maybe just some words of encouragement before boarding the plane would keep the sexy going for you. Then, get it started by making it happen for both of you.

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2 Responses

  1. 014kuman says:

    Really beautiful sentiments there. You’re definitely right with that sense of “self-less giving”, a type that goes beyond giving pleasure during sex. I hope to be as lucky as you two and find someone as altruistic and caring.

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