Trying for a baby is taking all the joy out of our sex life

Marriage Diaries is a column by Telegraph Family in which people share snapshots of their relationships and their dilemmas.  They are published every Wednesday. The below story is available here.

It’s 7.30 on a Thursday morning. The post-coital glow quickly
dissipates as I get out of bed and give my wife a perfunctory nod. She is
distracted and is adding the time and a record of our activity to an app on her
phone. While we are trying very hard to make a life, somewhere along the way
something has died.

I like sex and believe it to be an important component in a
loving relationship. I have been blessed with a healthy, regular intimacy with
my wife. But lately, everything has become rather – how do I say this? –
mechanical. We rely on diaries and ovulation aids, rather than luck and

It was not always thus. Initially in our relationship there were
fireworks, as in most new loves. Sometimes there were several fireworks a day
in various locations. These fizzled out over time, but have remained regular.
Every so often, when the touch paper is lit, they explode unexpectedly again in
impromptu displays that the neighbours can sometimes hear. These are always the
moments of intimacy and excitement that reconnect us when the banality of everyday
life gets in the way. They are the little reminders of the passionate people we
were and can still be.

Eventually, after several carefree years of courtship and
marriage, talk of children surfaced and recently we went to discuss matters
with a fertility specialist (we are both over 40, so there are no guarantees).
I was heartened to be told that to maximise our changes we should be having
regular sex. That’s sex, on prescription, as advised by a clinician. Naturally,
I had a spring my step after the appointment and in the days that followed, as
I reminded my better half of this medical recommendation.

Naively and hopefully, I envisaged that the fertility mission
would be accomplished with the sexual equivalent of a sustained campaign of
indiscriminate carpet-bombing, which I was very much looking forward to. The
reality, however, was a little more meticulous and it became apparent that,
rather than shock-and-awe, we were instead going to be conducting a series of
carefully controlled and targeted surgical strikes. Each was concentrated within
a five-day fertility window and dictated almost to the minute by an app, which
alerted us each month when the time had come to launch Operation Conception.

Day one was always a relief, coming as it usually did after a
period of abstinence. Days two and three weren’t bad either. But by days four
and five, the intimacy had drained from the experience and both of us knew we
were just going through the motions. The pressure to perform sucked the romance
and excitement from the occasion. My wife marshalled and organised. I felt like
a cow being milked.

I know I should be grateful and should look at these monthly
opportunities as a time of bounty. And they are by no means unpleasant. We do
laugh about them and share our thoughts and feelings honestly. My wife often
feels the same way. We both accept that the carefree love life we enjoyed early
in our relationship was of a time and that now there is a bigger purpose. Yet I
still mourn the thrill of desire for desire’s sake, and there is a small,
perhaps insecure and egotistical part of me that begrudges having to perform at
set times, much like an actor playing to an audience that has only turned up
because the tickets are free, not because they are necessarily eager to see the

I am an optimist, however, and I hope that after a successful mission, normal service will resume somewhere down the line. I am also a realist and recognise that with a baby in town, there may well be a lengthy ceasefire first.