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 lame Google Calendar events as “Lunch with Mark,” “Call Kim (set up interview),” and “Pay rent”: “P+V.” It’s code for “penis and vagina.” And yeah, it’s code for sex. When, years ago, I thought of the adjustments married life would mean, I never dreamed scheduling sex with my wife would be one of them.
My wife made our calendar event “P+V” mostly because she thought it was funny — and we wanted it to be a secret code so people who glanced at either of our screens didn’t know the truth comment or cock an eyebrow. Also: It would feel odd to have an event labeled “Sex with wife” or “Bone o’clock!” appear near Ash Wednesday, Memorial Day, or Presidents’ Day.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Sex After Kids
In the early days of our sex scheduling, the “P+V” 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 having no sex in a relationship.
Now, if you were to have told me five years ago that I’d have a weekly sex reminder in my calendar, I would’ve laughed uncomfortably and turned up “Uptown Funk” to drown you out.
First of all, 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. Right?
For another thing, 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.
In short, five years ago I was a slightly pretentious ass who refused to keep track of his obligations and held on to an extremely narrow notion of what constitutes good sex. That changed as I fell in love, landed a more demanding job, and charged, shoulder-down, into adulthood and marriage.
My wife got the idea for scheduling sex from a friend of hers who swore by it. She wanted to give it a try because, a year into our marriage, we’d developed near-opposite work schedules; when she’s home, I’m usually gone or asleep 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. 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 ache of not having sex regularly.
But you know what? It worked for us. I made sure to use the phrase intimacy above 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 midcentury couples in a loveless marriage. It was about carving out time to be together. Sure, sex is the destination, but it’s not the overall goal.
We knew we’d be home together on Wednesday night. 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 dies down. 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 fancy grilled cheese sandwiches. Most times, we also have sex.
That’s what sex is all about for us. 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. We still have unscheduled sex. But mostly its calendar sex. Does scheduling sex still feel like an old person’s activity? It does, yes. I wish we didn’t have to, and I don’t share it with many people. But it works for us and it makes us closer. Who am I to fight it?