One of the best predictors for having a wonderful, long-lasting marriage – including passionate intimacy and gratifying sex – is whether you and your spouse TALK about sex.
On the other hand, it’s also true that most couples are far more comfortable having sex than talking about it.
Sure, sex can be great, but not being able to talk about your sex life (and the expectations that came along with it) creates an environment in which sex relieves stress but doesn’t necessarily enhance connection.
So are you willing to TALK about sex with your spouse? If so, that’s great! If not, why? I suggest you think about your insecurity, understand it, and try your best to approach the topic while making clear that you are only bringing it up in order to improve your relationship.
Here’s the deal – if you do have an insecurity related to talking about sex with your spouse, and you try to give it a go – it might be really awkward and uncomfortable.
“Most couples are far more comfortable having sex than talking about it.”
If, however, you set it up right, go slow, and prioritize clarity and kindness along the way, getting started doesn’t have to be so bad. From there it only becomes easier and easier to have such conversations. Eventually, it’s fun. Really fun!!
I have coached couples who have been married for 5, 10, or 35 years, who haven’t ever had an in depth conversation about the sex they are having (or that they aren’t having).
It’s very tender to get started. It’s also glorious and so very helpful.
Consider that most couples struggle because each person feels they have to read their spouse’s mind. They have to know what’s pleasurable, what’s not, and if they’re into the activities underway. Communicating about sex with your partner means no more mind reading necessary, and no more wrong assumptions about your partner’s preferences in bed. It means having a lot more enjoyable interactions!
This isn’t your fault by the way. As a society in general and in most families in particular, our relationship to sex is very awkward and swept under the rug. In other words, we all have wants, needs, and tastes, but it’s frowned upon to speak about in any meaningful and public way.
As a society, our relationship to sex is very awkward and swept under the rug. In other words, we all have wants, needs, and tastes, but it’s frowned upon to speak about in any meaningful and public way. Click To Tweet
Thus, we never have a chance to learn how to talk about all of this in a wonderful, helpful, healthy way.
Sex ed, when it happens, is all about contraception and disease prevention with no mention of pleasure. Purity culture has other drawbacks, and most people end up withpleasure education left to porn, rom coms, or – worst yet – none at all.
I myself had two children before I ever had a discussion about sex with my mother that wasn’t just poetic and inferential. What makes this surprising is that my mother graduated from an Ivy League college in 1964. She was an intellectual hippy and definitely not a prude. Talking with me was complicated for her (probably because her mother was far too verbal about such matters and she wanted to spare me that experience).
Whatever the cause, the first time a sexual partner started a conversation about sex and what brings me pleasure, I squirmed on the inside and started kissing him so he would stop talking.
Yet, I knew that reaction was inadequate and I made a point of learning how to have meaningful conversations about my desires.
Key to having a good conversation about sex is learning how to make it safe, and appealing. When I coach my clients on how to have meaningful conversations with their spouses, they learn to share what they enjoy about sex and what they would like to do differently.
Key to having a good conversation about sex is learning how to make it safe, and appealing. Click To Tweet
I know the fear of saying something that will hurt your spouse’s feelings. I ALSO know the fear of hearing a truth that will potentially hurt.
It’s definitely easier in the short-term to leave things as they are, and not rock the emotional boat. Trust me, I get it. It can seem like just starting the conversation risks taking you into uncharted waters you don’t want to enter, and you’ll later believe it turned out to have been the first step towards divorce (at least that’s how this fear can sound in your head).
But I PROMISE YOU, that when you learn how to have these conversations, they will bring you closer as a couple. You will be so much more capable of being honest and connected. That beginning awkwardness really will be so very worthwhile!
If I could learn how to have such conversations, and if my clients can, then you can too!
Wondering where to start?
Decide that your sensual experiences deserves attention
Yes, this includes your own and your partner’s experiences. Your pleasure matters, and your partner deserves your curiosity about their experience too. Your relationship begins and ends with BOTH of you, and the two of you co-create your own shared experiences through the lens of each of your specific wants and needs.
Tell your partner that you feel _________ (fill in the blank: awkward, scared, nervous, excited, brave, whatever it is).
Say that you want to have a conversation about something the two of you don’t usually talk about and even though you feel that way, you would like to do it anyway.
Share what you want to talk about in a way that is well-suited for you and your relationship
Some examples might be:
I want to talk about our intimacy.
I want to talk about how we touch one another.
I want to talk about sex.
I want to get to know your experience in intimacy and share mine with you.
Be as direct or inferential, as crass or genteel, as you choose – just make sure your partner knows what you’re referring to.
State some elements of sex that you experience together that you enjoy, and invite your partner to do the same.
Do you love how you look at one another before you take your clothes off?
Do you love cuddling when you both are spent?
Do you love holding hands as you walk towards your bedroom?
Do you like receiving sexy texts?
Do you love that feeling of your partner’s weight on your body?
Do you love the way everything else in life falls away and it’s just the two of you?
Do you love knowing how much your partner wants you to feel pleasure?
State some elements of sex that you experience together that you enjoy, and invite your partner to do the same. Do you love how you look at one another before you take your clothes off? Click To Tweet
Sharing what you enjoy might be enough for a first conversation in which case you conclude with #5. (If you can’t think of anything you enjoy, share something about a time you watched the sunset, or shared a bottle of wine together. Maybe it was when you watched your child graduate from kindergarten. Find a time that was better than others, and start there.)
Thank your partner for the conversation
It takes a lot of guts, comfort, and vulnerability to open up oneself about these sensitive subjects. Show your partner appreciation for allowing the vulnerability and feel free to say you look forward to the future when it will be easier to have such conversations.
In a subsequent conversation, suggest trying something you’d like to experience
This might be something entirely new, and it might be an adjustment to something that has been happening that you don’t enjoy. (And again finish with expressing appreciation and gratitude for the conversation.)
Try out these steps and feel free to contact me to let me know how it went. I want to celebrate your success with you!
And if it doesn’t go so well, or you’re not ready to bring it up, let me know and I will make another suggestion that fits your specific situation so you too can enjoy such conversations with your partner.
I want more emotional intimacy for all couples, including you. I will help you create the deliciousness & joy of a growth-oriented, passionate relationship.
In the meantime, if you want to know more about how to stoke the passion in your relationship, read my book, Uncompromising Intimacy.