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What is Maintenance Sex? 7 Tips to Improve Married Sex

11 min read
What is Maintenance Sex? 7 Tips to Improve Married Sex

It’s often falsely assumed among couples that sex inevitably fades away as the relationship goes on, eventually dwindling down to nothing - but there’s no reason why this has to be the case. Although studies have shown that sex becomes less frequent over time in long-term relationships, every couple is different, and this statistic doesn't have to apply to you if you don't want it to.

Lots of couples these days are saying no to this narrative, and making sure that they have a vibrant sex life years or even decades into their relationship. Maintenance sex, for many couples, is an effective way of maintaining emotional and sexual intimacy in a long-term relationship, and once again making it the priority that it likely was when in the earlier stages of dating.

Lots of couples these days are saying no to this narrative, and making sure that they have a vibrant sex life years or even decades into their relationship.

The term first emerged in the early 2010s to talk about having sex with your partner at a set time even when you aren’t in the mood. But there’s much more to it than that - read on to find out more about maintenance sex, including the benefits, the downsides, and tips to improve your sex life no matter how often you do it.

Maintenance Sex: TL;DR

  • Maintenance sex refers to pre-planned sex between partners in a long-term relationship, aimed at maintaining sexual intimacy and preventing a dwindling sex life.
  • The pros of maintenance sex include addressing differences in sex drives, preventing a lack of intimacy in the relationship, helping busy couples make time for sex, improving physical intimacy, and encouraging open communication about sexual desires.
  • The cons of maintenance sex include the potential for masking underlying relationship issues, a lack of spontaneity compared to unplanned sex, and the risk of making sex feel routine or boring.
  • To make maintenance sex more enjoyable, couples can establish a schedule that suits both partners, spice up their sexual encounters by trying new things or switching roles, and build anticipation and tension leading up to the planned sex.
  • It's important to address any underlying relationship issues and prioritize quality over quantity in sexual encounters to ensure satisfaction and fulfillment in the relationship.


What is Maintenance Sex?

Maintenance sex is exactly what it sounds like; sex that is had not as a spur-of-the-moment choice in the throes of passion, but as a way of maintaining sexual intimacy between two partners who don't want their sex life to dwindle.

As you may or may not know, maintenance sex has a bit of a complicated reputation - but we just think of it as pre-planned sex between two mutually consenting partners intended to improve sexual and emotional intimacy in a long-term relationship. For example, a couple might decide that other than in a total emergency, they will have sex every Wednesday at 10 pm.

Although it's referred to as maintenance sex, this doesn't just refer to vaginal intercourse alone

Although it's referred to as maintenance sex, this doesn't just refer to vaginal intercourse alone; oral sex, anal sex, and other sex acts like fingering and handjobs can all be planned, and maintenance sex isn't just for heterosexual, cisgender couples - it can work for everyone!

Pros & Cons of Maintenance Sex

Like all significant changes to your sexual routine, there are many benefits to practicing maintenance sex, along with a few downsides that you may want to be aware of before you start marking your calendar. Here, we’ll go over some of the most commonly reported pros and cons.

Having said that, there's plenty that can be done to make maintenance sex just as thrilling and satisfying as unplanned sex - just read on!

Pros of Maintenance Sex

Each person has a different sex drive
      • This is a common issue in most relationships - after all, how often does your libido totally line up with your partners?

      • Maintenance sex can be a great compromise for this issue, meaning that the partner with the higher sex drive isn't left unsatisfied, and the one with the lower sex drive can still experience sexual satisfaction even without the intense drive to initiate sex.
      Lack of Sex Can Kill your Marriage / Relationship
        • We're all aware that one of the main signs of a failing marriage or long-term relationship is a lack of sex. While a dry spell of a few months can be normal, in many cases it signals not just a dwindling sex life, but a lack of intimacy within the marriage more broadly.

        • The other side of this is that a passionate sex life usually reflects broader satisfaction within a long-term relationship. If you've been experiencing a lack of intimacy, scheduling maintenance sex might relight the sexual spark in your marriage and remind each partner of their sexual desire for one another.
        It can help in relationships that struggle with intimate time
          • It's hard to maintain a relationship these days. With both partners working and technology meaning that work and other obligations can reach you at any time of day, there isn't always time to maintain your married sex life - without planning, it can fall to the wayside.

          • Planning maintenance sex might not seem like the most spontaneous or romantic move, but it can help reintroduce sexual intimacy back into your marriage when it’s been pushed off the mental calendar.
          Physical intimacy can help improve your relationship
            • It's easy to lose physical intimacy within your relationship if you start to neglect not just sex, but smaller gestures like cuddling, holding each other in bed, and a kiss before you leave for work.

            • Maintenance sex helps by reintroducing this physical affection back into the relationship, which might then have the effect of reintroducing it in other areas of life.

            • You know those mornings after sex when you and your partner are still all over each other? Imagine having that every week, or even daily!
             It can help to get you back on track with your sexual life
              • Sometimes, despite your best efforts, life gets in the way and sex becomes a much lower priority than it should be in your relationship.

              • Though there may be more serious reasons for this, for many people it's just about timing and feeling in the right mood - this is where maintenance sex can make a huge difference.

              • People who practice maintenance sex sometimes find that there's an element of 'fake it til you make it' - while at first they're consenting but not excited for the sex, they may find later that they enjoyed it and look forward to it more in the future
              It encourages you to openly talk about sex with your partner
                • If you haven't had sex for a while, or aren't having sex that mutually satisfies you, you may find it difficult to talk to your partner about it.

                • If you're scheduling sex, then it opens up this conversation and encourages you to talk about your sexual desires and concerns with your partner.

                • This has a knock-on effect of improving sex for both of you too - there's no better way to improve your sex life than by knowing what your partner wants!
                It's something fun for both partners to look forward to
                  • A little perk of having less sex in your relationship is that - if you plan for it - you have something to look forward to and get excited for!

                  • While sporadic sex can be more passionate and can draw from the heat of the moment, planned sex allows for an exciting buildup, which can contribute to the intensity of the sex when you can finally get your hands on each other and eventually result in an explosive payoff.

                  • As you can tell, there are some serious benefits to maintenance sex and it can potentially work wonders for your sexual relationship with your significant other. But there are also some pitfalls and issues you should be aware of before you commit to this idea.

                  Cons of Maintenance Sex

                  It might help hide the real problems of your relationship
                    • Your sex life can suffer for a range of reasons: health problems or particular disabilities impacting one or both partners, conflict outside the bedroom around childcare or finances, and infidelity in a monogamous relationship just to name a few.

                    • Introducing maintenance sex into your relationship can provide some satisfaction, but ultimately won't help improve these underlying issues, which may need to be sorted via relationship counseling or another kind of talk therapy.
                    It won’t feel like sporadic sex
                      • There's nothing quite like seeing your partner when you’re feeling horny and getting to rip their clothes off and go to town in a perfect moment of burning mutual desire.

                      • You're less likely to find moments like this with maintenance sex, especially if you're introducing it into your relationship to address a lack of sexual passion and desire.

                      • However, that doesn't mean it's impossible - if you're both wanting sex as intensely as each other when the time comes, then you can go just as wild as you would having unplanned sex!
                      It can feel like routinary or “boring”
                        • While maintenance sex works great for some couples to improve their intimacy and help them rediscover their desire for one another, for others it can have the opposite effect, and make sex feel more by the numbers and routine than ever.

                        • Even if you're having sex more often, the quantity may not trump quality here - if the sex you're having isn't enjoyable for one or both of you, you might want to rethink your approach.

                        • Having said that, there's plenty that can be done to make maintenance sex just as thrilling and satisfying as unplanned sex - just read on!

                        How to Make Maintenance Sex Fun

                        Though introducing more sex into the relationship overall is a great start, it’s worth considering the kind of sex you’ll be having, and how you can make it as pleasurable and fun as possible.

                        This is especially important if your sex life started to dwindle due to a lack of satisfaction during sex sessions.

                        These are just a few ways that you can maximize the maintenance sex that you’re planning on having, or improve the quality of your sex life in general:

                        1. Establish a schedule that suits both of you

                        While maintenance sex may sometimes be planned for nights that you otherwise wouldn't have thought to initiate sex, you can mitigate this by scheduling it at a time or day that suits you.

                        For instance, if you know that one partner works late on a Wednesday or has to get up early the next morning, try planning around this by choosing a time that mutually works for you both. After all, it's hard to prioritize your sexual desires when you're worried about how many hours of sleep you'll be getting that night!

                        2. Spice up the sex

                        Sexual frequency isn't the only way to bring sex back into your marriage - spicing up your sexual encounters can also keep the spark of a healthy sex life alive. This means something different for every couple, but at its core is about breaking away from the routine of sex that you may have fallen into - while you'll literally be having sex as a routine, the sex itself can be anything but!

                        For example, you might want to change up positions, the order of certain sex acts, or even switch your more dominant and submissive roles to spice things up.

                        3. Build up the tension

                        We established earlier that a benefit of maintenance sex is being able to look forward to it, so embrace the anticipation! On the date that you've planned the maintenance sex, you could try sexting throughout the day to build some excitement or send nudes to each other as a sexy preview for later on.

                        The benefit of maintenance sex is being able to look forward to it, so embrace the anticipation!

                        You can even try having a little foreplay for a few nights in the lead-up to the sex to make it all the more satisfying later in the week - if you can last that long!

                        4. Improve your foreplay time

                        If you've been together for a long time, there's a chance you may have started to neglect foreplay, especially if you're both busy. But one of the advantages of maintenance sex is that it's already planned out, so you can take a little more time to tease, excite, and arouse your partner before you have intercourse - and in any case, foreplay should never be forgotten!

                        Foreplay can just involve intense tongue kissing and touching or could go as far as fingering or blowing your partner, as long as you're leaving a sex act as the main event for later.

                        You could even try setting aside time specifically for foreplay, not allowing yourselves to have sex until you've been together for half an hour or more - this is a great way to build tension and really heat things up!

                        5. Give roleplay a try

                        Roleplay doesn't have to mean scripts and elaborate costumes - by nature, it's anything you want it to be, and can be as simple as introducing some specific dirty talk or a little play-acting before you get down to business.

                        This is a great way of exploring any long-held fantasies that you've not been confident enough to bring to the table before.

                        If you're trying out maintenance sex because you feel as though your sex life has become dull, this is a great way of exploring any long-held fantasies that you've not been confident enough to bring to the table before.

                        6. Add sex toys

                        You might think of sex toys as products that are only used by one person, but this is a misconception - if you're looking to make your sex life more lively, there's a huge range of sex toys out there that are perfect for two to enjoy.

                        Cock rings can be great for couples just looking for a little extra stimulation during penetrative sex, for instance, while toys like clitoral vibrators are perfect if either partner struggles to achieve orgasm from penetration alone.

                        7. Try new positions

                        We all know the cliche of old married couples just sticking to missionary - while this position can be highly pleasurable, it doesn't work for everyone, and changing up positions is a simple way of adding some zest to a tired sex life. You don't have to be an acrobat to find a new sex position that works for you; there are hundreds out there, including different positions for anal and oral sex, and many that are beginner friendly if you're just getting used to this change.

                        Seeking to elevate your sexual and intimate experiences?

                        When to See a Specialist

                        If you've tried maintenance sex and have found that it just doesn't work for you - you can't keep it up or other sexual problems are getting in the way - you may want to speak to a sex therapist to address the root cause of these issues.

                        It's also important to recognize if the problems you're having are potentially medical, such as struggling to get or maintain an erection or a lack of vaginal lubrication that makes penetration difficult. In these cases, you should speak to a medical professional before turning to ideas like maintenance sex, as this may only be covering up a more significant issue.


                        Maintenance sex can be a great method of reintroducing sexual, physical, and emotional intimacy into a long-term relationship that hasn't prioritized sex for an extended period of time for a variety of reasons. While it can't just be used as a band-aid for more serious or damaging problems in a relationship, it can be a useful way of explicitly prioritizing sex when life would otherwise be getting in the way. People like parents or couples who both work demanding jobs might find it especially effective - and combining it with sex toys and new exciting positions adds quality to quantity.

                        Maintenance sex can be a great method of reintroducing sexual, physical, and emotional intimacy into a long-term relationship

                        Most importantly, like all sexual advice, you can make maintenance sex your own and match it to the unique qualities of your own relationship based on factors like age, health, and sexual preferences. It absolutely isn't one size fits all, and the basic idea of planned sex can be altered to suit practically any couple in a long-term relationship.

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