Why the 'maintenance shag' is a relationship saviour – even if the sex isn't mind-blowing every time

WHEN you visualise great sex, chances are you picture something, well, sexy.

Feather-light lingerie, dim lighting, champagne, a scented candle, a night in a hotel and hours of tantric love-making that would make Sting blush.

It probably doesn’t involve an overnight face mask, a bout of indigestion, a baby who’s about to wake up, and the fact you’ve just remembered it’s recycling day tomorrow.

And yet, if you’re in a long-term relationship and you wait until you can have sexy sex, chances are you’ll be waiting a long time.

This is why the “maintenance shag” is such a beautiful thing. Basically, you never say no to sex when it’s offered – you might even initiate it just for something to do. 

Or as model Caprice Bourret recently put it: “You can’t say ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I have a headache’ — no! Even if you aren’t in the mood because it’s been a long day — it’s just 10 minutes of your life.”

Many people were aghast that Caprice was essentially encouraging women to always say yes to their partners (after all, rape within marriage was only recognised as an offence in England and Wales in 1992).

Plenty were also embarrassed for her partner, British financier Ty Comfort. Only 10 minutes? Not exactly brag-worthy stamina.

And while at first I thought Caprice’s advice sounded perilously close to the archaic notion that women should “lie back and think of our to-do list” while men hump away for their own satisfaction, I actually think she might be on to something.

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, there are many reasons why you might have sex.

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, there are many reasons why you might have sex.

It could be raw animal lust, but it might also be for intimacy, for affection or as a stress-reliever. It could even be quite chilly and you don’t want to put the heating on.

Sometimes I think of a quickie as the equivalent of cardio, meaning I don’t have to do an online HIIT class that day. How’s that for multitasking?

Of course, if you’re having sex under duress because you fear the relationship will end, or because your partner is threatening to dump you if you don’t, that’s never OK.

But if you’re happy and in love, but just not really feeling very sexy that minute, I always think it’s better to give it a whirl than not.

Even if it’s not exactly mind-blowing every time, it’s always more fun than what you would have been doing otherwise (another episode of a box set or scrolling Instagram in my case).

In my previous relationships, I used to be a bit more “not tonight” than “every night.”

But I’ve realised that sex is so important to a couple. Without it, you’re just flatmates who share a bed. 

As Caprice so wisely says: “If the sex goes in the relationship, it’s done and dusted. You have to keep it alive. And if you can settle down from your day and enjoy it, it’s fricking awesome.”

But I do admit that the phrase “maintenance sex” sounds about as sexy as a smear test. Maybe it should be “why not? sex”, or “amber sex” – as in, you’re not quite ready to go but soon will be.

A sex therapist I once interviewed taught me the 226 rule. “Every 10 times you have sex, six times it will be all right, twice you’ll wish you hadn’t bothered and twice it’ll be fantastic.”

So eight times out of 10 it’s worthwhile? I’ll take those odds. 

● Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.

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