My husband and I have danced around communicating about sex for years — and not just years, but decades. I could issue a dozen reasons why, including raising multiple children, health conditions, and the fact that I was raised in a big-mouth family and my husband was raised to stick to safe-topics, like the weather. However, I know that none of these are a valid excuse. Talking about our wants and needs in the bedroom is just as important as discussing our finances, our kids’ educations, and our jobs.
I don’t know why, but one day I made up my mind that I’d had enough. We are mutually loving and respectful of one another, we share household duties, and we co-parent well. Why in the world couldn’t we just have an honest sex conversation? The elephant in the room is that we rarely have sex — and part of the reason why is the fact that I just don’t want to two out of every four weeks of the month. As a feminist, I stuck to my belief that I owe no man — even my husband — an explanation as to why I wasn’t in the mood. Instead, we just kept disappointing each other, which led to some unnecessary frustration.
My PMS week, or the week before my period, is when I feel ravenously hungry (but nothing sounds good), crampy, and cranky. I know, I sound like a PMS stereotype. I just don’t feel sexy — like, at all. I’m going to wear my black sweatpants, eat cookies out of the freezer, and begrudgingly check my stash of feminine products to make sure I’m ready for my red tidal wave fate. Making whoopie during my pre-period week sounds about as appealing as letting my preschooler watch “Cocomelon.” Gross.
Then there’s the week of my period. My period used to be fairly mild — like five days and done. But now that I’m a few years older, my period can last seven days, and Aunt Flo can, well, flow. I keep wet wipes and pads in every bathroom, carry around the heating pad, and swallow pain reliever around the clock for at least three days. I also have been known to wear a blanket over my head and walk around like a zombie. Knocking boots is the last thing on my mind. I’d rather watch Fox News. Yes, it’s that bad.
This leaves two weeks out of the month, known as my happy weeks. I could drop it like it’s hot any time, day or night, multiple times a day. My clothes fit, I feel well-hydrated, and I’m not rage cleaning or curled up on the couch in agony. I have energy and motivation for life in general. Getting it on is actually appealing.
This brings me to what happened. I finally blurted out to my husband, one night as we were binging on some ridiculous HULU show, that I needed to tell him something. He looked at me in horror, I guess worrying I was about to drop some major news. I told him, “Listen. I’m on a four-week cycle. So here’s the deal. I have a sex window.” I proceeded to explain that I’m only down with getting down two weeks out of every month — the week after my period and the week after that. There’s sometimes a half-week grace period.
We joked that I could write a number, representing what week I was, on a piece of paper and hang it in our room. Or maybe I could just text him? However, we settled on a very simple question. He could simply ask, “Week?” and I could reply with a number. If it’s one or two, game on. But if my number is three or four, don’t even think about it. Take care of your own business, or not. Just don’t come a knockin’.
I know that sounds ridiculous to some. I’ve heard of women who would never ever “deny” sex to their partners. Some fear that if they say no, their partners will find another way (ahem, another person) to get their jollies on with. I’m not that person, and I don’t have that worry. Others simply lie and say they have a headache to get out of making love. Some just force themselves to do it, no matter how awful or unmotivated they feel, faking an orgasm at the end. No, thanks. No to all of that. I’m not one to be disingenuous, especially not toward myself.
We’re an old married couple, I often joke, which means we have security and a history. I’m not saying we have the perfect marriage. However, there’s no reason why we can’t have a sex window, one that I communicate — clearly. I don’t know why it took us so long to figure this out, but I’m going to go back to the fact that we, like all families, are just busy. We don’t always take much time to analyze what’s working and what’s not. And if we’re being honest, not all couples are great about communicating about the hard topics, which may include money, child rearing, and, yup, getting our freak on.
Making the decision to simplify our lets-do-it conversation has been such a relief. When both partners are trying to respect the other person, sometimes it can go overboard and stifle necessary conversations. Now that we’ve established a sex window, there’s no more song-and-dance around getting lucky.