June 1, 2007 -- Rolling back not only the years but also the bedsheets is the way to marital bliss, according to a couple who made it its mission to have sex every day for 100 days — and then decided to write a book about it.
Doug Brown, a 41-year-old feature writer for the Denver Post, and his wife, Annie, made the agreement after realizing that their definition of an early night had come to mean closing their eyes and snoring rather than something a little more titillating.
"I'd turned 40 that year. We had a minivan, lived in suburbia and were a very career-based couple," Brown told ABC News. "It was a lot different from when we first got together and we thought it would be a great way to change our sex life and spice up our marriage."
Got Sick Halfway Through
Earlier this week, a publisher purchased Brown's book proposal aiming to have it on the shelves by fall 2008. The publisher thinks it will sell based on the fact the Browns are certainly not the only couple that found its passion dampened by 15 years of marriage and two kids.
"We knew 100 days was going to be a challenge and it wasn't always easy after a long day, especially when I got really sick halfway through," said Brown. "Almost everyone we spoke to said 'My God, that sounds difficult.' But we wanted to see what would happen to us and we made it and are happy we did so."
Whether sex is the bedrock of a healthy relationship is an issue that can be debated until one is blue in the face. Marriage counselors are certainly not so sure.
"Problems with sex are usually the symptom of a relationship gone bad, not the cause, and I wouldn't say sex on its own is the answer," said Gary Stollman, a relationship expert based in Beverly Hills, Calif. "The act of consciously putting in daily energy into a relationship is essential to its vitality and longevity and this has to be done on all levels, not just the sexual."
Nevertheless, Stollman stressed that the Browns' approach was certainly not without merit.
"In theory, the gist of what they're trying to do -- put effort into the relationship -- is absolutely what needs to be done," said Stollman. "I look at it as a metaphor. One hundred days of straight sex is not necessarily going to fix things but it is a great metaphor for putting the energy back into a relationship."
A Sexologist's Advice
Honesty, clear lines of communication and being a good listener are key components to a successful marriage, according to Stollman. Weekends away and buying gifts are small but thoughtful ways to make sure that both partners feel nurtured and cherished.
However, there is often the defeatist attitude within couples that are aware that their sex life is not what it was, yet simply accept it and just plod along.
This is where a certified clinical sexologist can come in handy. Enter Dr. Ava Cadell.
"Sex is the second basic instinct after survival, that's how important it is," Cadell told ABC News. "It can become boring and predictable -- same place, same time -- and finding the reason why it deteriorated will determine the right solution."
As the founder of the Loveology University, described as "an online university of mindful loving," Cadell is certainly not shy when talking about the most intimate aspects of people's personal lives but she reinforces the viewpoint that sex is not the be-all and end-all of a happy marriage.
"A relationship needs trust, respect, passion, communication and friendship" said Cadell. "The big mistake counselors make is assuming there is one solution and they forget that anger and resentment can build to the point that while you love someone, you don't like them."
It is notoriously difficult to get an arguing couple to agree on things. If the lines of communication have broken down, then therapy is one answer. Couples are able to talk things out in a way that does not blame either themselves or their partner with the presence of a therapist ensuring that their words do not escalate to insults.
Plans for a Sequel?
More extreme measures can work. The Browns went on a sex marathon while Cadell regularly deals with clients who are generally happy together but want to spice things up in the bedroom. Her particular favorite is introducing them to tantric sex, which includes the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of love.
Occasionally, the spark that reignites a dwindling relationship can come from the most unlikely of sources.
"Sometimes being unfaithful can be a wake-up call so long as the couple talk about why it happened and have them promise not to do it again," said Cadell.
For the Browns, it never got to that stage. While their 100 days was a success, equally important was the fact that the couple were not only able to come to such an agreement, but were also able to follow it through.
"It was a great idea and some days were really fun," said Brown.
So will there be a sequel?
"I'm not so sure we'll do it again. Maybe we can squeeze it down to 10 days or a week."