Seperate Schedules, Next To No Sex

Reader:  My wife works 3pm-11pm.  I work 8am-5pm.  She’s been on this schedule for several years now, and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
Her days off are “rotating”.  In other words she’s off say Saturday and Sunday.  Then she works Mon-Thurs and she’s off Friday.  Then she works Sat-Mon, then she’s off Tues-Wed and works daylight hours on Thursday.  Then she works Fri-Sun and she’s off Monday. Works Tuesday-Friday then she’s off that Sat and Sun, and then it all repeats again.
I know the biggest part of this is me, but I can’t remember the last time we had sex on a night she worked.  She doesn’t get home and go right to sleep.  She actually stays up awhile, she talks about she can’t just “go to sleep” as soon as she gets home because she’s wound up from work.
I’m going to approach her about sex tonight (she’s working). But what’s your take on this?
Focus on the days off mainly?  I guess this is a rather stupid question…but after dealing with on average once a month sex (yeah, I know. But trust me it was WORSE than that years ago when she went through a bout of depression after the birth of our son) I’d be thrilled with sex on most of her days off…but other things can get in the way of course. (Not all her either).
So what’s your take?  How should I approach her? Nonchalant, gaming it up, or straight forward…mentioning how our sex revolves around her days off?  Thanks.
Athol:  Well the easy answer is to agree to make time to have sex with each other on a bit of a schedule. One late night a week, one early morning a week, and on the days she’s off. But obviously sitting down and talking about it isn’t going to actually work because she just isn’t into you all that much, which you’ve already figured out. Doing “The Talk” now will get you one or two extra sessions, and then everything will revert to baseline again.
So… I have several thoughts here.
(1)  The once a month sex is probably around the time she’s ovulating. Basically 14-15 days after the start of her period.
(2)  I get the feeling that the entire point of her working these shift patterns is to be sexually avoidant of you. Sexually motivated people do all kinds of crazy things to get to their person of interest and get it on. On days she works she’s, “too wound up from work” and on days she isn’t working she still does nothing. (Apart from once a month.)  She could no doubt find a new job / shift pattern if she really wanted to be home with you every evening having sex.
(3)  I would approach / game her more on the days she is off work, and not worry about it on days she does work. Don’t try too hard to make it happen. Make random passes at her and don’t apologize if they fail, just smile and keep going on with your day.
(4)   On nights she is working, be in bed and heading off to sleep by the time she is home. Don’t wait up for her like a puppy. If you have an exercise routine, it may work best to do it in the early morning before you go to work. The purpose being that you are starting to be unaffected by her avoidance of you. Work on the whole self-improvement / MAP process.  The pattern of interaction is that she avoids you, and you chase her. If you stop chasing her, her avoidance routines become pointless, so she is likely to reduce doing them.
(5)  On the Saturdays and Sundays you both have off together, plan something fun to do together. Ask her to come, if she does great, if she doesn’t… then go anyway. Just go have fun. Come back a little later than you say you would be back. Come home in a good mood.
(6)  Keep up the Beta stuff related to housework, cooking, child care. Be polite, sociable and fun with when she is with you and paying attention to you. Just start marching to the beat of your own drum more. This isn’t giving her “The Silent Treatment.” It’s “I’m going to entertain myself and be in motion, wanna come?”
(7)  Get in the habit of having playful flirting interactions with women in a general sense. Just play, you aren’t looking for a sexual close here. You just want to have the general buzz of having fun with other women in your vibe. Your wife will pick up on it eventually.
(8)  Anything else that is going to make you feel stronger, happier and more attractive to women in general.
(9)  As you progress further down this route, as she starts sensing you are making changes that are sticking, you can try some direct approaches. For nights she’s working, a very simple and direct request of, “I need you for five minutes.” and essentially pumping and dumping her… if only dumping her back in the living room, may start working. Also making direct requests for specific sex acts on her days off could start getting better results. Don’t just ask for “Sex?”, tell her you want to “Doggystyle”, “69 for a bit and then missionary”, “Cum on your tits”, “Tie you up and lick whipped cream off your nipples”, or for the brave, “Let’s do the thing with the jumper cables and the butter.”  (If you do the last one, make sure you have an ice pack handy and several towels)
I wouldn’t bother talking with her about all this for the moment. Speak with your actions.
Also as an aside, you mentioned postpartum depression. Is she still on anti-depressants? That may be a factor in killing her libido as well.
Jennifer:  Athol and I work opposite shifts several times in the first half of our marriage. We did lots of quickies and pretty much always found a way to stay connected. It doesn’t have to be the traditional make love at bedtime thing…maybe she needs to be reminded of that.  Does she shower when she gets home?  Could that be an opportunity?


  1. CantBeJustMe says:

    2. I can see your view here about her working the hours she does…but of course nothing is that simple. She spent about a year looking for a job with even close to comparable benefits and salary with daytime hours…nothing. The shift she works is not her choice, it's a seniority thing. She was one person away from getting day shift this year. She was royally ticked off for a good while after she found out.

    3. That's about what I've been thinking, concentrating on her days off.

    4. Well I can try being in bed by the time she gets home from work…thing is I've always stayed up late. Guess it's worth a try. I am working out every morning before work.

    5. We normally do something as family on one of her days off and the other we usually have friends over or go out depending. I am going to start going out on my own more. I already planned a trip to Atlantic City with a friend pretty soon.

    6. The "Beta" stuff is pretty much an even split. She does plenty of housework as well. I'll keep doing what I do and not make a big deal out of it.

    7. I'm trying to work on that right now.

    8. Working out and the other changes I'm making now feed right into this I think.

    9. Got it. I've been thinking about some of that as well.

    No anti-depressants for quite a while.

    Thanks for the feedback. I'll keep you advised, I'm not looking for quick fixes, I'm looking to make long-term changes for a long-term solution.

  2. Isn't it possible that she's just too tired for sex after working all day?

  3. The Outsider says:

    CantJustBeMe, step up to the plate and make it happen. You can do this.

    She married you, you married her – there's something there that you can draw on. You just have to make her want to. That's really what this is all about. We all know we *should* stay married and love our wives or husbands. The trick is *wanting* to.

    If you don't make her want to, her hamster will eventually explain to her why she shouldn't, and that will be that. Be bold, the stakes are high.

  4. Not really. Plenty of working women have sex lives.

  5. I agree with Athol on this one. Have the conversation about scheduling it in.

    It has been really helpful for us. We were dealing with a lot and not having much sex at all. The first task was to get 'a lot' sorted out. Once things got on the mend there, we were able to move into sex.

    Then, we entered a situation where we, too, were working a split schedule, and the other one was child-caring while the other one worked. Both of us are exhausted at the end of the day. As in, so completely zonked that we typically would fall asleep around 8 pm, within 30 minutes of DS falling asleep.

    The scheduling has worked for us. On Sunday, we schedule in twice during the work-week. On the weekends, we our son has a standing play date that rotates parents each weekend. We end up with one weekend every 12 weeks (watching about 8 kids at the park). On that weekend, it's scheduled for after DS's bedtime.

    We kept it shifting so that it's not routine, and it makes it fun because we put into our computers a reminder into the other's calendar. It's a fun activity, where we try to be silly-sexy, and that gets the whole thing going. We try to top each other's one-liners throughout the day, and we make sure we have some time for connection.

    Another element that I brought in to help me was to "do something sexy each day." It is usually not physical per se — anything from wearing his favorite dress and bringing him a coffee when I come to the office for our trade-off to a note stuck into his computer that is rather 'dirty' (by our silly standards). And then, I would say, about 1/3 of the time it is physical.

    I don't know what her commitment level is to the sexual relationship. I came to Athol's blog as a wife looking for ways to get my husband back in the sack with me. He wasn't cheating, but there was a whole heap of mess. I wanted my sex life back. I wanted to have a happy marriage.

    It took a lot of work (about a year, really, all told) before we really got a groove, but it's worth it. If she's as dedicated (and you don't have the stuff to sort), then it should roll out in short order. Once we started scheduling, it was a lot easier. And when I could, I added in the other part for me mostly. I wanted to do more. Sometimes, the little thing leads to the whole thing — and that's awesome — and when it doesn't, it makes the scheduled thing even more fun. . . because it's like a tease or an entree.

  6. If she's that tired, she needs to see the doc. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and work very hard to preserve energy for sex with my man. It's a challenge, but it's that important.

  7. Athol, where were you a quarter century ago? BetterHalf has always had a fair amount of natural alpha, but we limped along for years. I don't think he realized I needed more direction/guidance (game!) I sure didn't realize it! Trying to play catch-up is work!

    CantBeJustMe, if she loves you, it's probably not "you" she's not in to; it's your manner. Keep at it. Athol's right. If there's nothing left, you'll know soon enough. If there's a good marriage somewhere in this, a leader will bring it out.

  8. Athol, where were you a quarter century ago?

    In high school, dateless and jerking off a lot. True story.

  9. That's what I like about you; you know how to sugar coat the truth and dance around the point to spare us the blunt, harsh realities.

  10. Another option, have her drop to part time and drop down a notch in material expenditures. Smaller house, crappier cars and cheaper vacays. Saving on child care and being in a lower tax bracket a plus.

  11. CantBeJustMe says:

    Thanks for all the feedback. I'm not worrying with setting schedules or having "the talk" just yet. Just wanted some opinions on my particular situation. I've got some work to do on my stuff before I move on. Thanks!

  12. > Also making direct requests for specific sex acts on her days off could start getting better results. Don't just ask for "Sex?", tell her you want to "Doggystyle", "69 for a bit and then missionary", "Cum on your tits", "Tie you up and lick whipped cream off your nipples"

    I feel anxious about being this explicit. I was relatively inexperienced when I met my wife and we have not had a vibrant sex life in the 20 years we're together. I'm afraid that if stuff like this comes from my mouth, she'll be wondering or asking "Where are you getting these ideas, and why now?" Responding "a blogger", or "porn" opens a whole other box of anxiety. Any help "processing" this? Thanks.

  13. hi, I'm happy that you really understand your wife about her work and your actually thinking about her side. not all men have the patience like yours. maybe you should be given an award for that.

  14. Nothing rewards like more sex… just sayin'

  15. You might want to start with something just a little bit suggestive and ease into the racier stuff. Also, we have found that texting sexy messages is easier than saying the same thing. It also helps if you are doing Athol's MAP strategies, which will generally make you more attractive to her. It's one thing to receive an explicit message from a husband who doesn't interest you very much sexually, quite another to receive the same message from a husband who turns you on.

  16. "Nothing rewards like more sex… just sayin'"

    I"m not a religious guy but… AMEN! Don't bother telling me what a great guy I am, just hop on top and show me. ;)

  17. CantBeJustMe says:

    a nice tongue polishing wouldn't hurt my feelings either….

  18. You can always ask for "missionary", "girl on top" or "a jostle."

    You're assuming you wife doesn't already know what the dirty stuff is…

  19. And plenty of working women don't have great sex lives because they are tired from working all day.

  20. Maybe it's an act, but my wife does come off as somewhat clueless about jargon and sexual possibilities (and a little shy, like when someone gets a little "forward" in a movie). Perhaps it's our mismatched SMV (me, struggling IT drone, she, accomplished non-profit exec, with family wealth, to boot) or lack of dopamine. I've always been "chicken" to express my wants in life (sexual and otherwise). We haven't developed a sexual repertoire or vocabulary (we're also in our 50s).

    In the context of the MAP, do you have any recommendations for how to become braver?

    And what the f— is a "jostle", anyway (yeah, I read about this thing called "Chicago cross jostle")?

  21. …BTW, thanks for the red pill, Athol. I ate up MMSL in November and am still reeling (also in the gym 3 times a week, working harder on finding a job, and working to reframe how I approach my wife, people and life). It sucks to have avoided this 'til now and it's scary, but at least I can work on the rest of my life.

  22. …& thanks, GC.

  23. I am 53 and my husband is 61 and we have been working on improving our sex life for about 2 years, including developing a sexual repertoire and vocabulary (and sexting!) It is never too late – our sex life is better than ever.

  24. Chronic Fatiguer here. It takes energy to make energy. I've made significant changes in my diet and started exercising. Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive, especially with an on-your-feet job like I have, but it works. Vitamins. Nutrient-rich foods. Sleep and naps. Taking breaks. You gotta experiment to find what works for you.

    I had to start with light stretching and no more than 15 minutes of yoga. But as I worked my way up, my overall energy increased, my apetite increased, and then I had energy for small bits of's growing, that ol desire..

  25. I've found massage very very nice and relaxing and not very controversial, so I suggest you try that first with your wife. Everyone loves massage! It's also easy to go from massage to more sensual things.

    I was rather shy talking about sex. Now I am more comfortable with using medical terms for parts of the body and then simple descriptions about what I want.

    I think a lot of people are too afraid to suggest new things because they might disturb the equilibrium of their relationship – its rather sad really. Perhaps after the massage is going well you can suggest weekends away and then while in a neutral setting talk about how you might improve your relationship above its already wonderful level!

    Overall, I'd suggest moving slowly as it takes some time to get used to being more explicit and adventurous. Afterall, it;s the journey rather than the destination.

    Good luck C :-)

  26. Depends on the person. Voice of experience – here. Crazy making schedule with random changes (tech job, on-call/shift work for 24/7/365 op center) and long, often long long days/nights. Working extreme schedules can be a grind on the body, mind and psyche. Often folks go on auto pilot just to get through it. Sleep deprivation which comes with shift work keeps you at a sleep deficit and can have you wired/wound up when you stop; because caffeine and other stimulants are used to offset the chronic lack of sleep. The person just accepts it and adapts to what seems like normal. After a while if you do not have something it just slips off the radar – the day to day of life just fills the space – i.e. do or not do something long enough it becomes habit.

    Sometimes all it takes is a change in routine to remind you what is missing. Consider maybe a massage – very soothing, relaxing – first time she may even fall asleep :) but feels safe, secure, protected and like she can stand down; shut the brain off and just be – no pressure. DH did this and it worked like a charm :) First few times we dozed off; but once sleep deficit ended I realized I missed this and wanted more life in my life beyond work. Next night things got frisky and playful and it has been fine since then. It just takes being reminded of what is missing.

  27. Seriously! It's lines like this:
    "hi, I'm happy that you really understand your wife about her work and your actually thinking about her side. not all men have the patience like yours. maybe you should be given an award for that."

    that make Nice Guy betas continue to pine away in the vain hope that the rewards will actually be coming someday, and in a sexual form. Hello!??! That's why all us dudes are here in the first place! They never are!


  28. My husband cares lije this, but he also pulls enough alpha to have me asking him, "would you like another tongue polishing" quite often. ;)

  29. Coming home from working full time and a similar swing shift schedule did wonders for my energy and drive. I wasn't so fatigued from the crazy hours and schedule and trying to care for several young children and the home. It was like my body woke up and I felt the old sexual desire come back. Improving our sex life and having more time together was the exact reason we took this chance (though we didn't explain this to my boss or relatives).

    We did have less money but things were running better in the home and the increase in sex reduced tension even further making home a less stressful place to be.

    Women are not miniature men and the culturally accepted schedule women are expected to manage is sometimes more than we can manage physically and mentally. (Please I know men have it rough too). I remember wanting really wanting to be able to respond to my husband but being so exhausted all the time especially with the rotating shifts that I was a walking zombie. Add to that my husband's frustration with me and it was getting to a negative tipping point.

    It bothers me that the men posting comments seem to have the idea that this man and others are being so understanding of this ladies schedule and work load but they are quite critical of her unresponsiveness to her husband. My husband and I tried scheduling and other things but nothing worked until I had to admit that I couldn't handle it all and feel normal. That was hard to do because we women are supposed to be able to handle all this and the fact that a husband pitches in is supposed to settle the issue and fatigue is not supposed to be a huge sex feeling killer and wives are expected to make it happen sexually in spite of all this. That is a lot of supposed to. Some couples are going to have to let the woman be at home part time or completely as part of an effort to restore her energy and sex drive. A man "understanding" but still "demanding" and being "ticked off" will not bring sexual energy in itself back.

  30. Maxamillian says:

    For some women, my girlfriend included, having sex after a long day or work is the last thing she wants to do. It's unfortunate that your schedules seem to match up so poorly, I think you really just need to talk to her about having more sex. Be open and creative, I'm sure it will work out.

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