At first, it felt weird to see it. No, it was more than that, it felt unnatural. But there it was, sitting in blue lettering among such innocuous Google Calendar events as “Lunch with Mark,” “Call Kim (Set up interview),” and “Pay Rent”: “P+V”. It’s code for “penis and vagina”; it’s code for sex. And it’s a recurring event on my calendar.
My wife made our calendar event “P+V.” She thought it was funny, and we wanted it to be a secret code so people who glanced at either of our calendars didn’t know the truth comment or cock their eyebrow. Also: it would feel weird to have an event labeled “Bone o’clock!” near Ash Wednesday and Presidents Day.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Sex After Kids
At the start, the calendar event appeared to me like some horrid thing, a reminder that I was old, boring, inhibited. But now? Whenever that calendar alert ‘ding!’ goes off, it makes me excited. Because, as I realized, scheduled sex is simply a promise to make time for one another. It’s also way better than no sex at all.
Now, if you were to have told me five years ago that I’d have weekly sex in my calendar, I would’ve probably tackled you. Because that’s a weird thing to tell someone. Seriously, though, I would’ve laughed and hocked up some diatribe about how awful an idea it is.
For one, I hated keeping track of dates on a calendar. I resisted any form of scheduling because it made me feel trapped. Staring at a full week’s worth of responsibilities made me feel like I was in one of those ancient rooms where, if you accidentally step on the wrong section of floor, the walls slowly close in on you. It confronted me with the crushing weight of adult life. So, I didn’t keep one.
For another, good sex, I was certain, was about passion and spontaneity and circumstance. It can’t be plotted out or manufactured; it’s desire rising and rising until it crashes down like a wave.
In short, five years ago I was a pretentious ass who refused to keep track of his obligations and held onto an extremely narrow notion of what constitutes good sex. That changed as I fell in love, landed a more demanding jog, and charged, shoulder-down, into adulthood and marriage.
It was my wife’s idea to schedule sex. A friend of hers swore by it. The plan arose because, a year into our marriage, we’d developed near-opposite work schedules; when she’s home, I’m usually gone and vice versa. Sex was rare; we both were growing frustrated. I was reluctant to agree to what I thought was an old-person’s arrangement, something akin to playing bocce or eating dinner at 4:30. And it made me mourn my old sex life (honestly, I was close to hosting a candlelight vigil and wearing black underwear for a week) But I begrudgingly accepted because my reluctance to mark intimacy on the calendar was no match for the frustrating ache of blue balls.
And it turned out fine. I made sure to use the phrase intimacy here because that’s what it was all about. Our Wednesday “P+V” meeting is not about just inserting P into V and resigning to our separate quarters like one of those wealthy mid-century couples in a loveless marriage. It was about carving time to be together. Sure, sex is the destination, but it’s not the overall goal.
Wednesday is the night we’d be certain we’d be home together. By scheduling that as our sex time, we also scheduled it as our connection time. We put our phones away. We shut our laptops. The constant buzzing of the world can wait. Instead, we drink cheap wine and talk. Or we put on music and slow dance. Or we go for a walk. Or we make milkshakes and play Settlers of Catan. Sometimes we put a lot of effort into making sandwiches. Sometimes, most times, we also have sex.
That’s what the process sex is all about. It’s about making a commitment to connecting with the person you love on a regular basis, about prioritizing what’s important when the world tries to get in the way. Does it feel like an old person’s activity? It still does and I don’t share it wth many people.