Imagine what a promise of sex for 365 days straight could do for your relationship. American housewife Charla Muller took the plunge and ended up writing a book to share her experience
Interviewing someone about their sex life, is not something I do on a regular basis. In my day-to-day life, I am exposed to sex in many forms – from the spam that offers me a ‘Penis Extension so that she will love me long-time’ to the Pussycat Dolls shaking their As on my TV.
I’m not a prude. I have devoured every episode of Sex & The City, and like to think of myself as sexually aware. But when I am faced with the prospect of talking to someone at the other end of the world about ‘doing it’ for 365 days straight, the inner prude awakens.
For his 40th birthday, Charla Muller offered her husband a very unique gift, 365 days of unlimited sex. Some would see her gift as an exciting alternative to a Rolex or a set of golf clubs, but Mr Muller’s initial reaction was ‘thank you honey, but you really don’t have to’.
“I couldn’t believe his reaction,” says Muller talking from her home in the United States. “‘Don’t be silly it’ll be fabulous,’ I said.” But Muller’s husband took some convincing – what about work, the kids and lack of energy?
Muller is quick to say that the gift was not a bandaid cure for a dwindling relationship. “I knew that I had a great guy and a happy marriage.” But conversations with married friends had unearthed a common theme: sex was no longer a spontaneous occurrence, and often came second to kids, long work days and the demands of marriage. “A lot of us were in the same boat, where intimacy had fallen off our to-do list… I had trouble making it happen,” she says.
Finding time for sex and intimacy is a common problem for married couples and is rarely talked about, as it’s often linked to feelings of ‘lack of attraction,’ failed expectations and low-self esteem for one or both parties. Muller’s practical approach to fixing the problem shows that good sex is often dependant on good communication, and that sex and everyday life can go hand-in-hand. But how does a practical solution become a reality?
“We were lucky because our children were at those easy ages of five and seven. Young enough to go to bed early, but old enough to be independent,” she says.
In order to honour her gift, both Muller and her husband had to rearrange their weekly schedule. Simple things, like putting the kids to bed early or setting the alarm for a pre-work session proved worthy for their cause.
“It was important for both of us to learn to turn off part of the brain – so we could enjoy ourselves,” she says. “There’s never been a time when we’ve regretted it, but in the past we’ve had trouble making it happen.”
Post-baby bodies and low-self esteem can make it difficult for women to channel their inner sex goddess, however Muller says that 365 days did wonders for her moods and energy levels.
At 40, Muller admits that there was an element of self-doubt; that she was no longer able to offer her husband that slimmer, pre-baby body circa 1999. “I’m definitely an average girl. I’m not a size six or even an eight… I’m very normal, and there was a big part of that that I had to let go. But intimacy releases endorphins and makes you feel good.”
Muller stresses that the gift was so much more than sex on a platter. “By aiming for intimacy every day, we had to take ownership of our relationship.” Key to this ownership was the fact that their everyday lives and behaviour towards each other proved to be the deal-maker. “We had to be the best spouses we could be. Daily intimacy required kindness and acceptance. It is hard to have sex with someone when you’re peeved at them,” she laughs.
But were there times when the couple felt that they were just going through the motions? Muller makes no secret of the fact that the occasional headache or work commitment meant that the gift wasn’t honoured, but describes the year as ‘the most transforming year of her life’. “It was like falling in love again, and you forget that intimacy is such a big part of that.”
If intimacy is low on your priority list, Muller suggests that you start off small. “You don’t have to commit to 365 days like I did. Double what you’re doing now, then in six months time double it again.”
Since completing the year and the book, Muller has clocked up many hours on the media circuit. While a woman initiating 365 days of sex makes for an intriguing story, Muller maintains that the gift was never intended as the backbone of a successful book. Instead, it was more about ticking that final box in a happy and rewarding marriage.
Less suburban sex tale, Charla Muller’s story is more about the role sex plays in creating intimacy and closeness within a marriage.
After polite goodbyes, I hang up the phone, and wishing Muller a good night, I can’t help but wonder if her husband is waiting.
365 Nights (Murdoch books) by Charla Muller is out now.
85% – the number of people who would like to have sex at least twice a week
1.84 – the number of times heterosexual couples who have been together have sex
27% – the number of people who have sex twice a week