There’s no shortage of pointers about how to make sure your marriage doesn’t turn stagnant after kids come along. Communicate often. Prioritize your partner. Make date night a regular occurrence. Don’t neglect sex. While these are all useful, research-backed pieces of advice for making a marriage feel healthy and fresh, they’re also a bit abstract. So, we decided to ask real couples: How do you keep it sexy-ish? That is, what do you and your partner do to stay close, connected, and, well, just into one another? For Justin Riordian, 43, who lives in Portland, he realized he needed to make more time with his partner — so hem implemented a business tactic and his relationship (and sex life) greatly improved.
When my husband and I got married, we got counseling form the woman who was going to officiate our marriage. She said to us: there are three entities in your marriage. There’s Justin, there’s Joe, and then there’s you as a couple. All three of those things have to be fed and nourished. If any one of them dies then the whole marriage falls apart.
In the beginning, my son’s godmother would come by once a week to watch him, and we’d have weekly date nights. But then, life got more and more complicated. I run my own business. My son grew up and has a lot of sports and extracurriculars. My husband has a life as well. This weekly date night routine became more and more difficult to meet.
I joined this organization called EO, the Entrepreneurs Organization. I was talking to a guy there, and he runs this app called Date Night. Date Night coordinates your schedule with your partner. It tells you what night you can do things together, because it looks at your calendar and finds corresponding dates between you and your partner. It hasn’t been released yet, but I thought it was a really good idea.
It had been, like, years since I brought my husband flowers. So I just started scheduling an appointment for me to go to the grocery store, buy him flowers, and bring them home once a week on my way home from work. He doesn’t know what day of the week it’s going to be — I tend to rotate. But every week, he gets flowers, and it’s a sweet gesture, and it’s one he appreciates.
Then I started doing things where I would just hold a day with a blank appointment in it and it would say “make a date with Joe.” Then I talk to Joe and tell him I have time on Saturday night and ask if we can do something that night.
In our business, we have a limited amount of resources and a lot of clients who want to use those, so we block time with appointments that don’t actually exist that a client can just walk into. So what I’m doing is blocking time for Joe, in my life. It’s probably only been about a year since I’ve started doing this, but honestly, it’s been pretty good.
Calendars and business and romance are totally different things. Business is intentional and thoughtful and romance is spontaneous and thoughtful. And I just don’t do spontaneous well. That’s not me. If someone says, “Hey, let’s go hang out!” I’m like, “No.” I need to do that three weeks from now. So, this is my version of spontaneity. It’s planned.
It’s like a client relationship management system, or CRM. You put all of your information for all of your clients into this CRM and it reads your calendar as well. CRM reminds you that you needed to call this client because you haven’t spoken to them in three months. It makes your client feel like you’re the most responsive service provider ever. So this is kind of a CRM for your relationship.
It just reminds you, Hey, you’ve been a total dick for the past three weeks, you’ve ignored your spouse, you need to do something nice for them.
We also try to do a weekender every quarter. But I would go a year and not do a weekender. So now, I put a reminder at the beginning of every quarter in my calendar to schedule my weekender. It makes me actually do it. I need to plan six weeks to three months out, so if I don’t do that at the beginning of the quarter it’s not going to happen.
Doing this calendar was honestly more corrective than proactive. When you start a business, it usually becomes an all-consuming thing. When that happened, I found myself really distant from my husband. It had basically become a transactional relationship, versus what we wanted, which was a romantic and loving relationship. We had to stop and do a real thorough check of our relationship. And honestly, since I started doing this, among other reasons, our relationship has gotten a lot better.
I haven’t told my husband because it takes all of the spontaneity out of it. I think what spouses love about romance is how spontaneous it is. But when I bring home those flowers, I think about something he said or did that week that I really appreciated. I find a reason why I’m giving him those flowers. The flowers are on my calendar. Not the reason for the flowers. I see the notification and ask: How can I express gratitude in what my husband has done for me?
I think having those flowers on the dining room table, every week, every time he walks through the dining room, it’s a reminder that I do love him, that I care. In my mind, the way I am is not how it’s supposed to be. I’m supposed to do it the way that everyone else has done it before me. But honestly, I’m not that guy. So this is how I take care of it.