My husband is the chef in our household. Mainly because he enjoys crafting meals out of random ingredients. Also because, let’s be honest, he’s tasted my cooking. That being said, I decided early on in our marriage to be honest with him in my feedback regarding his dishes. Do I do this out of spite or to hurt his feelings? Of course not. I am honest with him because my figure can’t handle eating loaded mashed potatoes with every meal and my taste buds won’t allow me to force down roasted pork loin without gagging. In the end, my constructive criticism has improved life for both of us. So too is this true in the case of sex.
You would be shocked to know how many couples I have counseled who have been married for decades - decades with a plural people - and have never talked about sex. My typical conversation with couples sitting on my couch goes something like this.
Me: Have you ever talked about sex?
Clients: (looking aghast as though I asked a preposterous question) Ummm, no.
Me: But you’ve had sex?
Clients: Well of course. (quizzical smirk slowly fades)
Me: But you’ve never talked about it.
Clients: No, of course not. (blushing, looks away)
I would like to believe this tide is changing with my generation, but so far even millennials have shied away from this all important convo. But why?
Do you want to have sex? Do you want to enjoy sex? Do you understand that your partner is not a mind reader? Then why on God’s green Earth would you not talk about it? You’re doing it, I’d think having an open, honest conversation about it would be easier than actually taking your clothes off and being naked in front of another person. But no, most clients think daring to speak about this topic is way more provocative.
Fear not, my friends, I’m here to help you change the status quo in this department. First, we will look at the why, then the how.
There are a multitude of reasons you should broach the topic of sex with your partner. Here are a few of the most persuasive:
Communication is key. If you want a successful relationship that can withstand the test of time, you must be willing to communicate. Every vital aspect of the union should be discussed. Since sex makes up a significant portion of the connection in marriage, it must be talked about. Communicating your wants and needs makes it more likely that your partner will intentionally meet those needs for and with you. Sure, you might be blessed with an attentive spouse, but even the most well-intentioned lover has no way of knowing your every desire.
Knowledge is power. Willingness to communicate with your significant other about sex provides a deeper understanding of what it is that gets your blood pumping. With that knowledge your partner has the ability to implement your preferences, resulting in a more pleasing sexual encounter for both of you. Kinda like that KY commercial, where the husband says how much more into it he is when he knows she’s really into it. This is true for most caring couples. If you love each other, you want to please one another. Candid conversations about sex allows for just that.
You only live once. Listen, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my whole marriage dreading one of the parts I should be enjoying the most. Sure, couples who don’t talk about sex are still having it, but it’s not likely they’re getting the level of satisfaction they would if they were actively communicating their wants and needs. Committing yourself to one sexual partner for the rest of your life doesn’t mean you have to endure a boring bedroom routine. Talking about how to spice things up leads each of you to think outside the box.
Happiness is a choice. I wish each and every person on the planet would really and truly understand this concept. If so, the world would be a much better place. For some reason, complacency sets in for a large portion of married couples. Life gets busy and patterns form, next thing you know, your norm is something like the roommate epidemic and nothing like what you envisioned on your wedding night. Each and every day we are allowed to wake up breathing we have the option to choose. Do you want to accept what life brings your way or do you want to take hold the reigns and live a life worth living?
Action gets results. I often tell my clients, change requires action. If you want the dynamic to change in your marriage, if you’re feeling disconnected from your spouse, if you’re feeling bored by the same lackluster romp, take action! Give yourself permission to bust out of the monotony that can slowly creep into relationships. Commit to having the talk with your lover. If you don’t think you can handle the conversation yourself, schedule a couples therapy session and start soaking in the knowledge and implementing the tools to get you back into that passionate, desired marriage you walked down the aisle with.
Love conquers all. This one is important to understand when contemplating talking with your partner about your sex life. The conversation might be messy, what you plan to say might not come out the right way, someone’s feelings might get hurt. At the end of the day, whatever temporary pain that’s experienced will pass. More importantly, that momentary discomfort will give way to a more intentional, action-oriented relationship. If you love each other, that will override any clumsy misstep.
Dreams come true. I like this one because more than anything, I want to instill in you a sense of hope. If you’re not happy with the way things have been going, it can change. You are worthy of happiness, worthy of achieving your dreams and setting even bigger, bolder goals for yourself and your relationship. You don’t have to settle. If your spouse really loves you, they’d never want you to. Keep that chin up. You can do this. And trust me, you’ll thank me later.
Okay. Now you know why you need to have the talk with your spouse. But how in the world do you go about it in the least awkward manner? Read on, my brave friend.
With love. When you go to broach the conversation of sex with your significant other, please do so with a genuine attitude of love. This will soften your partner to truly hear what you are saying and will decrease the likelihood of defensiveness, which is sure to stifle communication. I recommend starting with positives. Something like, ‘You know, babe, I love you so much and I am so grateful to have you as my partner. We’ve been married for quite some time and I’m really proud of all we’ve accomplished together. I was hoping we could talk a little bit about where we’ve been and where we’d like to see our relationship go in the future’. Tailor it to your specific situation, but you get the gist.
With respect. Oh, respect. I cannot overstate the importance of displaying the utmost respect when talking about sex with your lover. Before you even begin I’d like you to consider what respect would look like for the two of you during this exchange. Respect is reflected in your tone, word choice, body language, and facial expressions. If your partner starts to get agitated or even if something uncalled for is said, maintain that level of respect. If there’s one sure way to smother the embers of desire, it’s with disrespect.
With humility. Let’s be honest, both of you contribute positively and negatively to your sex life. Own your own shortcomings without hesitation. This tells your spouse that you’re not coming from a complaining standpoint, but from a solution-focused position. Ask for feedback and give constructive criticism on both the good and not so good qualities of your performance. Keep in mind that the purpose of this exercise is to bring the two of you closer. If you feel emotionally connected and engaged, it opens up the door for more novelty in the bedroom.
With understanding. Before you respond to anything your partner says, listen. I mean really listen. Listen like your life depended on it. Parrot back some of the things you are hearing to make sure you’re on the same page. Understand where your spouse is coming from and if you’re not sure, ask for clarification. This conversation is not meant to be a one way street. It’s meant to be a dialogue, an exchange of ideas between the two of you to better connect with one another sexually.
With openness. Be open to feedback, both good and bad. Be open not only to hearing what your partner has to say but to actually implementing that change when it’s time to get frisky. Share your feelings about what is being said honestly and not out of annoyance or anger. If you feel slighted, verbalize why and allow for an opportunity to course-correct. Again, open, honest communication about sex is a win-win for both of you.
With detail. As much as I see the value in talking about sex with my clients, therapy is not the appropriate forum for detail. No offense, but I just don’t need to know that much about you two. However, candid conversations about sex among lovers is the perfect opportunity to get specific. Share with one another things like turn-ons and turn-offs. Express what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable. Explore your sexual boundaries and if your partner requests something that you’re not okay with, speak up. Following through with something you feel is degrading or inappropriate hurts your sexual connection. Explain your position lovingly, without judgement. If your partner asks for something you weren’t expecting, shaming them or making them feel ‘bad’ tells them that this isn’t a safe conversation to have with you. It’s this fear of rejection that prevents many couples from having the talk in the first place, so keep that in mind.
Alright. That was a lot to take in, I’m sure. I hope you found this information helpful and I hope you truly give it some consideration. In doing so, think about all the benefits that can follow for both of you if you are willing to open up and speak candidly about your sex life. I encourage you to talk to your partner about these issues, sooner rather than later. But before you open that door, take some time to really consider what you love about sex with your spouse, what you’d like to have more of, less of, etc. all the while keeping in mind the goal of the conversation is to bring the two of you closer. Should you feel the need to reach out for help in this or another area of your relationship, I invite you to schedule an appointment.
Best of luck in this endeavor to get lucky and love it like never before!