In a poll, 75% of couples said their relationship had lost its spark. So does making love every day reignite the passion? Well, we asked Tess Stimson to take on a seven-day sex challenge.
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Tess is an author (one of our favourite books from her is The Adultery Club) who has been with her husband, Erik, for 17 years. They’ve raised three children together – Henry, 23, Matt, 20, and Lily, 15 – and along the way have somewhat lost that spark. Here’s Tess on her love life and her experience of a seven-day sex challenge:
On our first date, in 2001, we couldn’t even wait until we got home before ripping each other’s clothes off on the ninth hole of the local golf course. These days, we’re more likely to settle in front of the TV and watch Poldark get his kit off than rip off our own. In fact, it was a shock to realise Erik and I haven’t had sex in nearly six weeks. Then I read about the Seven-day Intimacy Challenge, which promises that being intimate with your partner every day for a week will reignite even a long-forgotten spark. The only question was, could we do it?
So does the 7-day sex challenge really work?
In the last couple of years, even when we get around to sex, it tends to be a quick fumble beneath the sheets that ticks the right boxes, but not a lot more. So, I’m determined to make tonight special. I light a dozen candles in our bedroom, set the mood with some romantic music, and even break out the sexy lingerie. We’re both a bit self-conscious at first, but it doesn’t take long for us to get into it. Admittedly, setting fire to the curtains with the candles wasn’t part of the plan, but we both agree how much better it is when we make a bit more effort.
Fired up (quite literally) by yesterday’s success, Erik sends me a couple of saucy messages during the day saying how much he’s looking forward to tonight. There’s a definite frisson of anticipation over dinner, and we both decide to go to bed early. We used to indulge in a little role play when we first met, so tonight I put out some of our favourite accessories. Aside from a minor hitch when we realise that we’ve run out of batteries, the evening goes perfectly, though I sadly realise I’m not quite as bendy as I used to be.
My back’s killing me and I could use a good night’s sleep, but I’m not giving up just yet. I decide to switch things up by surprising Erik as soon as he walks in. I drag him into my study and lock the door for a quick knee-trembler, but it’s not as exciting as I’d hoped. It feels awkward, and I’d prefer a comfy mattress to the doorknob digging into my back.
We’ve already had more sex this week than we have in the last six months, and I’m quite sure I’m getting cystitis. But we battle on, with Erik suggesting some al fresco action. I’m not keen, but once it’s dark and the kids are asleep we slip outside. It’s more erotic than I expect, though I’m too worried about the neighbours to let it go very far.
An odd thing has started to happen: Erik and I have suddenly become much more tactile and physically attuned to each other. We’re flirty, and cuddle and kiss each other more. In the evening, when we are watching TV, he reaches over to hold my hand – something he hasn’t done for years. I love how affectionate we are being. He unzips my dress for me when we go to bed, too, and caresses my back. We rise to our intimacy challenge, and afterwards, we lie in each other’s arms and talk in a way we haven’t for quite a while.
We have dinner with friends tonight, and I’m the designated driver. We haven’t seen them in a while, and the wine flows freely. Erik tells them about our challenge, which they think is hilarious, but afterwards, my friend takes me aside and confides she and her husband hardly ever have sex, either – they’re too tired. When we get home, I’m feeling in the mood, but sadly the wine has got to Erik. He gives it his best shot, but we fail the challenge tonight, and I can’t say I’m sorry. I could use a night off!
This is our final day of the challenge, and we’re both determined to pull out all the stops. After last night, Erik feels he has to make up for lost time, and he takes me out to lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, and then for a long walk. We hold hands and kiss, and then go home and make love. It’s incredibly romantic, and I’m reminded why I fell for him in the first place.
Having sex every day was exhausting, and most days I wasn’t really in the mood, though I always enjoyed it once we got going. But there’s no doubt it’s brought us much closer, and has really made a difference to the way Erik and I interact. We both realised you can’t just wait for the urge to strike you – you have to make the effort to find time for each other. We’ve decided to schedule a date night at least once a week, and stick to it. I’m already looking forward to next weekend. It’s all too easy to put sex on the end of a long list of chores but, from now on, it’s going to be a lot closer to the top of my list.