Marriage and sex: A year of living passionately

What would happen to your marriage if you decided to have sex every day? Two couples have done just that, and recorded their experiences in books which come to surprising conclusions. Jonathan Brown and Nikoliina Sajn report

Ask a man what he wants for his 40th birthday present and the average wife can be assured of a variety of predictable responses. A golfing weekend, maybe something for the garden or even, at a push, the new Coldplay album. But offer him guaranteed sex every day for a year and the answer is likely to prove both surprising and not a little disappointing.

Such was the experience of Charla Muller, a 39-year-old mother of two who made just such an extraordinary suggestion to her husband, Brad, on the eve of his birthday milestone. "He actually told me no. He thought I wouldn't be up for the challenge," she recalls. But perseverance being the key to a successful marriage, Mr Muller was eventually persuaded to accept what they now refer to simply as "the gift" and the couple embarked on their year-long sexual odyssey with admirable dedication.

Their exploits over the year now form the basis for a remarkable new book entitled 365 Nights which is now poised to take the United States by storm. That and a second tome, Just Do It , by Douglas Brown , a Denver-based lifestyle journalist, and his wife Annie, who committed to 100 successive days of marital workouts, are being hailed as either a panacea to the modern lifestyle pressures that render so many marriages sex-free zones, or a prescription for relationship pain.

Both couples are now engaged in separate tours of the talk-show sofas, touting their various takes on the joys of daily coitus. Both books are due to go on sale in Britain later this summer when they are expected to spark a similar debate over the merits of such goal-orientated coupling.

Mrs Muller, of Charlotte, North Carolina, readily admits that the couple failed in their attempts to perform every single night of the year, due to various business trips and New Year's Eve when her husband was "overserved" with drinks and found himself unwilling to knuckle down to his task. But they still notched up 26 to 28 times a month, not bad for a working couple who had been together for eight years and well above the married average of 66 a year. "I would have told anyone before the gift that we had a great marriage. I was married to a great guy and I like to think I was a good wife and there were no problems in that department," she said. The couple agreed a set of ground rules and insisted on keeping within the "spirit of the gift" allowing them to cry off in the event of a genuine headache.

Mrs Brown added: "Sometimes we missed a day and it was never mandatory. But we set a definition of sex that we felt comfortable with although I'm not going to be too specific about what that definition was." The Browns, who, according to their publishers, "literally screwed their way through months of a cold Colorado winter", worked hard at changing the venue to keep them on target. They checked into hotels of varying star ratings, visited an ashram, took to the great outdoors, but centred most of their efforts on that most traditional of arenas – the marital bedroom, which they dubbed the "sex den" in a bid to keep the allure alive. They also used a variety of props including candles, lube, a box of dressing-up clothes, some sex toys and even Viagra – just in case they needed to augment their natural abilities.

Those seeking visceral details of the couple's exploits will be disappointed with the contents of the book. "It is very much G-rated – really pretty clean. I didn't want my parents to be offended," Mrs Brown said. Her husband added: "I wasn't sure if I'd be comfortable writing about it, but by the end of this thing, it was just this wild, kind of madcap adventure. It was a really colourful romp, so I knew we had a good story."

The book has now been optioned by 20th Century Fox for a possible film adaptation.

Both couples report similar benefits from their endeavours and say they now enjoy greater levels of intimacy, not all of it sexual. "We touch more," said Mr Brown. "We would have entire days and maybe had a peck at the end of the night, and that was the only time we touched. During the 100 days, it wasn't just the sex; we were hugging each other, and that has carried on." His wife,a marketing executive, agreed: "What we really learnt is that we have to take care of each other more and pay attention to each other in ways that we haven't since the early days of our marriage."

Yet despite the glowing endorsements, British relationship experts seem reluctant to encourage couples to pursue the same strategy to rekindle their flagging sex lives. Paula Hall, a sexual and relationship psychotherapist, warned there could be "potential dangers" with some using sex to mask underlying problems of communication. "My anxiety is that this may make the couple more functional, but wouldn't necessarily make them want to have sex, that it wouldn't actually increase desire, but that after a hundred days they would say, oh, thank God it's over," she said. She added that a process of "gradual desensitisation" would be more appropriate with couples slowly restarting their physical relationship.

Dr Michael Perring, founding member of the British Association for Sexual and Relationship Therapy, was equally sceptical. "This claim sounds like an eye-catching phrase but I would have to see what they really did," he said.

"There is nothing inherently dangerous in having sex every day, except that it may be time-consuming. The view is that sex is good for a person." Dr Perring said there were many people who wanted sex every day – the problem was finding a partner who could keep up with them.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on