When you’re in a long-term relationship, how do you determine when you have sex? Carolyn Evans found an interesting solution — a barter system based on good behavior, involving beads.

How it works: Evans gave her husband a jar of beads. Whenever he wants sex, he simply has to place a bead in a bowl (a “beadcatcher,” if you will…will you?) by the bed. When Evans sees a bead in the bowl, she has to be ready to have sex within the next 24 hours — unless he’s behaved poorly! If his behavior is not up to snuff (and obviously Evans herself is the only arbiter of this), she can “turtle” her husband, aka dump out all of the beads.

Evans wrote a book, The Forty Beads Method, explaining the process more fully. She based the method on the theory that men need to have sex to feel close to a woman, and women need to feel close to a man to have sex. I agree with this general principle, and yes, it does seem all too easy to get stuck in vicious cycle of resentment and not having sex.

Still, the idea that a man can sort of order sex from his wife/girlfriend like he’d order a pay-per-view movie makes me uncomfortable — that women have to have sex within a given period, whether or not they necessarily want to. And, according to the 40 Beads Theory, the only time it is acceptable for a wife to not have sex with her husband is if she’s displeased with his behavior: this doesn’t account for situations where a woman doesn’t want sex, for reasons that have nothing to do with her partner. The men are still allowed the freedom to want/not want sex at their own discrepancy.

I do like the idea of beads as a subtle signifier for sex, and I like that it gives a general grace period, so that you don’t have to stop everything to meet your partner’s needs then and there.

But the bead method would seem a lot more fair if both partners could plop a bead in whenever they wished–and if withholding sex as a punishment for “bad” behavior wasn’t a part of it. [Glamour]