Human beings are creatures of habit.

With a few exceptions, most healthy humans can list some sort of routine we follow on a general day-to-day basis—we wake up, put on coffee, commute to work, commute home, cook dinner, and watch Netflix.

Considering how structured our days can be and how busy our schedules are, you can’t expect sex to happen spontaneously as often as it could with your longterm partner. After a relationship matures, many couples gradually find themselves having sex less and less, whether it’s because of busy schedules, changing sex drives, or stress and exhaustion.

For couples who find it difficult to maintain intimacy amid busy schedules and changing lifestyles, I often recommend trying out something new—scheduling sex. Just as you pencil in meals, working out, and drinks with friends, try setting aside time to be intimate with your partner in your schedule.

Oftentimes, couples balk at the idea of scheduling sex, insisting that it feels unromantic and makes intimacy into a chore. But scheduling sex is often the best way for couples interested in having intercourse (i.e. everyone) to save their sex lives and their relationship.

Prioritizing intimacy and scheduling time for sex can be vital to the longevity and happiness of a marriage. Many couples share the mistaken idea that sex will always happen spontaneously, much like it did in the early stages of their relationship. But couples in long-term relationships cannot rely on hormones alone to drive their sexual activity—if you are always waiting for sex to happen spontaneously, you may be waiting for a very long time.

Couples in marriages and long-term relationships often find that scheduling sex leads to more enjoyable, high-quality sexual experiences. And while scheduled sex many feel contrived initially, many couples come to find that they begin to anticipate and genuinely look forward their “sex dates.”

If you and your partner aren’t having sex as often as you’d like, try putting it on your schedule. Below, I’ve included some tips to consider when scheduling sex dates.

Talk about it. If you feel as though you and your partner are not having enough sex, talk to him or her honestly and openly. Tell your partner what is working for you about your sexual relationship, and what you’d like to change. Encourage your partner to explain how sex could be more pleasurable or exciting for him or her. Work together to try and agree on the minimum number of times you could be having sex per week.

Allow for flexibility.  For some couples, it might work best to schedule sex at a specific time every week, such as “Tuesday at 9 PM.” But for those of you who don’t like the idea of a strict schedule,  you could try agreeing to have sex during certain circumstances—for instance, whenever your children are all visiting a friend’s house or whenever one of you doesn’t have time to make it to the gym. Not only doesn’t this alleviate some of the pressure, it may actually increase the number of opportunities you have to be intimate.

Commit to your sex dates. Like most things in life, scheduled sex will not work unless you give it a genuine try and jump into sex dates wholeheartedly. Try to take equal turns initiating intimacy, and be open to your partner’s suggestions and needs. Instead of complaining and dragging your feet, approach scheduled sex as you would a special event or an exciting new activity. Once you both agree on a time or situation to have sex, try to stick to it as best you can. Integrity AND compassion, right?!

Set aside time for other relationship activities. If you’re committing to having sex once or twice a week, you could also pencil in other important relationship activities, including date nights, working out, and relationship counseling sessions.

Prepare yourself physically and mentally. One of the best parts of scheduled sex is that it allows partners to prepare themselves for sex both physically and mentally. You may find value in readying yourself for sex with a hot bath and smoothing lotion, and become more excited as you build anticipation for the event. If you happen to be feeling tired or unmotivated, you can give yourself a boost with a short nap or trip to the gym.

Look beyond sex drive. The reason you aren’t having enough sex with your partner may lie in your busy schedules or lack of sex drive. But sometimes, there are deeper issues at play. For instance, if a partner is withholding sex out of anger, resentment, or depression, you may need to address these issues before you can improve your sex drive.

By visiting a Houston marriage therapist, you can explore the reasons behind the lack of intimacy in your relationship, and address any issues that may be keeping you out of the bedroom. With the help of a counselor, you can develop effective strategies for improving both your sex life and your relationship as a whole.

Alternatively, if you aren’t certain that you are ready to commit to regular counseling, you may want to try out an Imago Couple’s Workshop as a first step. Through one intensive weekend of seminars, exercises, and group activities, you can experience powerful results for your sex life and relationship, and find yourself in a better position to determine whether relationship counseling is a good fit for your unique marriage.