There’s nothing wrong with candles and baths — or, for that matter, lingerie and scented oils. “Those are all stand-ins for the little signals most couples have,” says Epstein. “Most couples’ signals are subtler: being in bed and awake at the same time, reaching out to one another on a weekend morning, making some gesture.”

You may pine for the days of spontaneity that you enjoyed when your relationship was young — making love at odd hours, in the least likely places, just because you felt like it. But if you have small children, and two careers, and the usual laundry list of responsibilities, the chances of you spontaneously hooking up without some planning are about like the chance of your playing in the NBA — when you’re over 40. And white. It takes a little doing to have a passion in marriage.

There is nothing wrong with planning to have sex, is there? Thinking about it ahead of time might just get you in the mood, just as thinking about what you’re going to eat before you go to a good restaurant only whets the appetite.

“People have to get in the habit of making time to be sexual in the same way they make time for everything else that’s good in life,” says Weston. “Some people will just sit and let the hours wash over them in front of the TV rather than do something that takes a bit of energy and a bit of intention. You have to kind of get conscious about what you’re doing.”

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