You think about him all day long. You want to rip her clothes off the minute you see her. Sex, anytime, anywhere. No one else to think about. Nothing else to worry about. It’s just the two of you against the world, and your naked bodies up against every wall and piece of furniture in the house.

That’s how it all begins – hopefully, anyway. When you first meet someone you really dig, the rest of the world melts away. And once you begin a sexual relationship with that person, it rules your world. It’s a beautiful thing. And it’s an important part of early couplehood.

Let’s face it, sex before marriage is easy. It’s new. It’s exciting. It’s all you have to worry about. Or at least all most of us choose to worry about. But once you get married, the sex tends to change.

At the beginning, it may be a wonderful kind of change. It can be exciting to really get to know your partner, and to feel comfortable enough with him or her to stretch your own boundaries and explore new things. But it can also be a complicated time. Learning to navigate married life and then settling into the marriage routine can make sex become routine as well.

One reason for the change is that the roles are different. We have certain expectations about what it means to be a wife and what it means to be a husband. Our family and friends have certain expectations too, as does society. "Now you’re married," all of those voices seem to say, "It’s time to stop acting like a couple of crazy kids and get down to the business of life."

Suddenly, family and friends and work and mortgages and leaky faucets march up the ladder of priorities, leaving sex far behind. This kind of change, of course, is not so good. How do you get out of the rut?

The first step is all about attitude. Put sex back on top. If it’s important to you, act like it. Pretend it’s a matter of life and death, which, when it comes to your happiness and marital satisfaction, it may very well be. If you honor the importance of sex in a marriage, you are more likely to do what it takes to keep it hot.

The dishes will get washed. The bills will get paid. The emails will get answered. Attending to your sexual relationship — whatever that means to you and your partner, once a week, twice a week, whatever — deserves as much of your commitment, if not more, than career, housework, and family obligations.

Keep your sex life at the top, and you’ll be amazed at how many things fall neatly into place below it. Sex is important. Treat it that way.

Of course, sex during marriage only marks the beginning of the challenges. Things only get more complicated when you add having kids to the picture. It’s not just the two of you anymore. So even if you weren’t too tired to get down and dirty on the kitchen floor, you couldn’t anyway because it’s covered in applesauce and brightly-colored toys.

Between carpools, ballet class, school lunches, sleepovers and homework — not to mention college funds, health scares, and the sheer horror of having your very own heart exposed and jumping off the jungle gym and wandering away from you in the shopping mall — it’s amazing anyone ever manages to have sex again once the little darlings arrive.

But just like before marriage and before kids, a sexual relationship with your partner is still an incredibly important component of coupledom and it requires nurturing and attention.

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It’s amazing. Even if you are already stretched to the limit, if your career requires more, you give it more. If your kids need more, you give them more. When it comes to our sex lives, we are all too quick to say we simply don’t have the time or the energy.

We prioritize based on what we perceive is important through the messages we received as kids, and the information we receive from the world around us. But the only thing you should be listening to is your gut. If it’s screaming out for touch and intimacy and sex, listen.

It’s too easy to say you’re too busy or tired or stressed or whatever. But, you know what, we’re all busy and tired and stressed and whatever. That just doesn’t cut it. We make time for what matters to us. So, make sex matter. Forget the excuses, and remember the fire you and your partner once knew.

Put in on the calendar. Plan staycations. Pop a DVD in for the kids. Tell your boss you feel a cold coming on. Talk to your partner about your wants and needs. Educate yourself about sex toys and new ways to play. It’s not selfish or silly or irresponsible to prioritize your sex life and anyone who tells you it is, is likely struggling themselves.

A sexually satisfying relationship — again, however you and your partner define that — is important. Period. So, treat it that way. Remember, no one has ever gone to the grave saying, “I wish I had washed one more dish.”

Jenny Block is a freelance writer based in Dallas. She is the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage." Her work appears in "One Big Happy Family," edited by Rebecca Walker and "It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters," edited by Andrea Buchanan. Visit her website at www.jennyonthepage.com or check out her blog at wwww.jennyonthepage.blogspot.com.