Sex is a vital aspect of almost any marriage. Sex is also a large part of life- it impacts many different aspects of our every day. Sexuality comes into play when we’re choosing our clothes for the day, it influences how we act, interact with others and how we think.
Sex is all around us. We can turn on the t.v. to see our favorite actors engaging in sexual behaviors, listen to musicians singing about sex with their loved ones (or one night stands) & wait in any line at the super market with rows of magazines with topics about sex. Sex is a broad-reaching subject that spans throughout several areas of our lives.
Talking about sex is quite possibly one of the most difficult conversations that we may have. We relate to our girlfriends over coffee or with guy friends over a beer more easily than we can with our own spouse. Ever wonder why?
There is risk involved in having these conversations with your spouse. Sex with the one you love is the epitome of being vulnerable and for many people the idea of talking about sex together is too much for them to handle. Fears of saying the wrong thing or opening up about something your partner may not be interested/ready for can squelch your desire to talk about sex. But just because sex may be a difficult conversation to have, it doesn’t mean it should prevent you from bringing it up.
When talking with your spouse about sex, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
1.) Start from a place of respect.
Talking about sex with your partner may be uncomfortable for them too. Be respectful of both of your anxiety, listen to one another from a place of care and respect. If you go into the conversation with judgement you won’t get very far. Respect your relationship enough to take care when bringing up a topic that may need to occur over several conversations.
2.) Be honest with yourself and your partner.
Talking straightforward about what you want and need in your sex life may be tough, but using code words or only giving half of what you are thinking may only lead to more distance or confusion. Be honest with yourself about what you want to gain from the conversation. Ask your partner to do the same.
3.) Be open to listening to their thoughts, fears and ideas.
Know that when you ask to talk about sex with your partner that you’ll hopefully receive feedback as well. Your partner may express their own wants and needs, along with fears that they may have about being vulnerable with you in new ways. Take the time to listen to what they have to say, it can lead to opening up in a more intimate way that can create a deeper connection.
4.) Avoid pointing the finger or placing blame.
Talking about sex can be an emotionally charged conversation- go slow and be mindful of taking ownership. Talk about your own experience, thoughts and feelings rather than saying “you always/never…” Chances are, your spouse will be more engaged in the conversation when they’re not feeling attacked.
5.) Timing is key.
Thinking of talking about sex or sexual issues right before or right after sex? Think again. We’re more emotionally vulnerable during those times and you may just end up hurting one another’s feelings instead of holding a meaningful conversation. Find a neutral time where you’ll have plenty of time to discuss or separate from each other to process if needed. Set a time to come back together to continue the conversation so the expectation isn’t that everything needs to be “figured out” at once.
Talking with your sexual partner about sex can be extremely difficult. A lot of times you may not feel that you’re prepared to approach this by yourself and during those times I encourage you to consider reaching out to a therapist who specializes in couples work and is comfortable talking about sex with their clients.
Sex is a natural and enjoyable part of a relationship. Your relationship deserves the open conversations needed to grow to love it even more. Talk with your partner, they probably wanted to talk to you about sex too!
I am a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina. I enjoy working with people on improving their lives, relationships and feeling all around more mentally healthy.
Michelle A Coomes MA, LMFT