Sex, every day, for a year. Even when tired
The couple set off on their sexathon after Doug covered a sex conference for his paper and heard about a support group for men in relationships who had not had sex for at least that length of time. It was Annie’s idea to reverse that.
Doug says the experiment is still paying dividends. “If you force yourself to do it, you realise how special sex is, how unique. It’s different from anything you have with anyone else. And if that leaks away in a couple, it’s really sad.”
Self-enforced intimacy created “a familiarity between us – but in a good way. A kind of mutual comfort. Each knows what the other likes. And it’s led to it not feeling strange or shaming for us to suggest things.
“There’s just a physical ease there, a naturalness. That’s stayed with us. It’s great now when we both know it’s going to happen. It kind of feels like coming home. And it has really taken away the pressure.”
That’s a bonus, especially for a man. “Before, there was always that pressure to perform. That’s distracting and it can be dispiriting. The feeling that you’re on stage, you have to perform. But when we did the 101 days, all that . . . melted away. You realise you can’t be on stage every day.”
Charla, who works in marketing, says Brad, a salesman, and she feel the same way. “You’re no longer in it to win it every time,” she says, on the phone from Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Doing what we did for a year removes all the embarrassment and awkwardness from the whole thing. It was a transforming year for us in every respect. In fact, it’s hard now to know what our life would be like if we hadn’t done it.”
Five years on, the biggest lesson from this couple’s 365-day marathon – the project was Charla’s gift to her husband for his 40th birthday – is that if “intimacy every day may not be a long-term sustainable model, neither is no intimacy at all”.
The point, says Charla, is that: “We all tend to have this picture that sex has to be spontaneous and romantic. But when you have kids and laundry and work and all the rest, the reality is that there’s just not much in your life that happens spontaneously.
“We thought having to pay all that attention to it would somehow distract from it, make it mundane. But it didn’t. The other thing that year made me realise was that men don’t need it more than women. Men might want it for different reasons. But I learned that I wanted it, too.