M and I have been in a bit of a slump. Instead of spending our free time hiking, biking, and having sex, we've been watching television and playing video games. 

It's not without good reason. There's been some stupid family feuding over an inheritance that's still in probate. Right after we took on the extra expense of a rented house in a better part of town, I was laid off by the adult toy shop I worked for. Shortly after that, our car began to fall apart. Then I got really sick. Then M got really sick. Then we let the whole eating right and exercising thing fall by the wayside because we're both emotional eaters, and nothing cures anxiety and depression (temporarily) like a giant bag of Doritos, Death by Chocolate ice cream, and beer.

Sex? What sex?

As I've said before, it happens to the best of us. My sex writer status doesn't make us any different from anyone else. And the more stressed out we get, the less likely either of us is to initiate intercourse.

It's a funny little catch 22. Stress causes the desire for sex to wane, and sex is the best cure for stress. In fact, many sex educators and couples therapists will suggest that you stop putting it off and start doing it, whether you're in the mood or not.

I'm a survivor of sexual assault, so just forcing myself to have sex when I'm totally not in the mood feels a lot like I'm raping myself, sometimes. And I know I'm not the only one because I've had a few people, survivors and non-survivors alike, tell me they feel this way, too. But never fear! I'm here to help you find your way back to your partner without feeling like you've betrayed yourself.

Start by examining your stressors and clearing up any unresolved issues that are solvable. Finish up any projects that are stressing you out at work, at home, or at school. Clear the air on anything the two of you haven't resolved between yourselves. Pay off any outstanding bills that are weighing on your mind. Just tie up all loose ends you're capable of tying up so there is nothing, short of Murphy, to interfere.

Schedule some alone time. This means getting rid of kids, pets, and friends or relatives who've warn out their welcome for the time you plan to be alone. This also means telling everyone you normally talk to or spend your free time with to leave you alone. Obviously, there are some exceptions, but they do not include Little Johnny wanting an extra snack at bedtime, or your BFF breaking up with their partner, or your cousin needing a place to crash for the weekend.

Turn off your damn phone. This might not be feasible if you've got kids. But most phones, these days, allow you to give everyone in your contact list their own ring tone, so it's as easy as muting everyone who isn't watching your children. Before you go, discuss with the people watching your kids the definition of “emergency” as it applies to your family so they're not calling you every time Suzy scrapes a knee. Set up scheduled “check in” calls if you're worried the kids will suffer from separation anxiety, and stick to those times. In the long run, it'll be better for all of you, anyway. The kids will know you're there for them, but will also develop the ability to survive without you, which is important.

If you're going away, leave the laptop and any other unnecessary devices at home. Three of our biggest distractions, these days, are television, telephone, and internet. You can survive without all three. I promise.

Do bring “marital aids”, like bubble bath, massage candles, adult massagers, and contraception. Unless you're trying to have a baby. In that case, leave the contraception at home. But baby making can be stressful, too; especially if there are complications. So maybe try not to think about that too much.

If you're going away, decrease your expenses, and your time not spent alone, by picking a place to stay that is near whatever entertainment you're planning that allows you to cook your own food; a hotel with a kitchen in the room, a cabin in the woods, a campsite. Or, if you're lucky like we are, here in the Capital Region, and the entertaining possibilities around your house are endless, stay home and go out to eat a couple times so you don't have to worry about cooking and dishes.

Draw up a tentative sexy plan. Set aside time to take a bath or shower together. After the bath, take turns giving each other a massage. Don't just stop at the back, folks. We're talking full body, here.

Don't let your plans get in the way of intimate moments. Touch and kiss each other a lot. Let it lead where it may. If it makes you late for a movie you wanted to see, catch the next showing.

Above all, stay in the moment. Don't think about what might be waiting for you when you get back to work. Don't worry about whether or not you gave the sitter enough diapers. Don't plan out your budget for the next pay period. Just be with your lover. Enjoy your time rediscovering each other.

As always, these things aren't surefire, but they're pretty close. If you've tried all these things, and there are still issues, probably you should be speaking to someone more qualified than me.