Someone once said to me, “My husband and I don’t talk about sex. As far as I’m concerned, once it’s done, it’s over and I don’t talk about it”.
Another woman asked, “We struggle to talk about being intimate and what it is we really want. We tried to talk about it but we can’t seem to find the right way to do it. We are still intimate but I feel we don’t know how to express our feelings and needs. Do you have any suggestions?”
How about you and your spouse?
Are you able to talk about sex as a couple? Do you find it awkward and uncomfortable? Are there things you wish you could tell your spouse but just can’t?
Is it even OK to talk about sex with your spouse? Is sex something that gets done in the dark, under the covers, and then never spoken about?
Is that even healthy?
We live in a culture that does not openly discuss or teach about sex, yet, it gives the impression that everyone else is sexually satisfied and blissfully happy in the bedroom – without ever having to talk about it.
In reality, the opposite is true:
Not everyone is sexually satisfied and happy, and very few couples talk about how to improve sex with their spouse.
If you’re feeling awkward right now, please, push that aside. God created sex, and while it’s a very private thing, it is ok to talk about it in a healthy way.
In fact, talking about your sexual relationship with your spouse is one of the best things you can do for it.
Why do we struggle to talk about sex?
There may be a number of reasons you struggle to talk about sex:
- Your upbringing. What you were taught about sex, even subconsciously will affect your ability to talk about it. It may be that your parents never mentioned the word, or maybe you grew up in a home where sex was openly discussed in a coarse way. Either scenario could leave you feeling awkward.
- Maybe you suppress sexuality because you were taught lust is bad. You struggle to differentiate between lust and passion, and so talking about it just feels …wrong.
- You are used to sex being spoken about in a joking, low manner and don’t know how to talk about it in a healthy way.
- It’s just plain awkward and hard! Sex is a deeply personal thing, and an area where we are most vulnerable. It’s just plain hard to talk about it because in sex we are completely exposed, physically and emotionally.
- You are afraid of rejection. What if talking about what you need or desire is not met with approval? It may feel too risky to expose yourself in this way.
- You were sexually abused or raped or have a history of pornography use and associate sex with guilt, shame, or trauma. It may feel dirty to talk about it.
Why should you talk about sex with your spouse?
- It creates intimacy because you are sharing something deep and personal with your spouse.
- It solves problems (all couples have sexual problems. The only difference is those who talk about them and those who don’t).
- It improves sex because you’re letting your spouse know what you prefer.
How can you get over being shy and awkward about talking about sex?
- Just start. It is hard in the beginning, but just do it anyway.
- Be intentional. Choose to talk about it, even though it feels awkward.
- Be brave. No matter how hard it is, risk the vulnerability.
- Embrace your sexuality – it’s ok to be sexual. God created you a sexual being. Don’t allow fear to keep you in sexual poverty.
- Encourage each other to be open and honest.
I’ve created a list of questions to get you started talking about sex with your spouse.
How to get started talking about sex:
- Share this article with your spouse and ask them him or her what he or she thinks.
- Invite your spouse to speak about sex. This will make it easier. “I know it’s awkward to talk about this. I give you permission to be honest with me. Let’s be brave and jump in and start talking about it.”
- Avoid coarseness and criticism. Show respect and honour in your communication. Don’t ever laugh at, or mock, your spouse.
- Don’t make accusations. Use “I” statements – “I prefer…” or “I enjoy…” or, “I feel ______ when you ______.” Remember, this is a very vulnerable area!
- Affirm your spouse. Tell your spouse what he/she does well, and what you like.
- Avoid defensiveness. Instead of seeing feedback as negative, see it as something positive and helpful. Listen without getting defensive. Listen to learn how you can become better.
- Choose to be vulnerable and honest. Don’t say something’s ok if it’s not, for fear of hurting your spouse.
- Talk about technique – it could improve the experience a hundredfold.
- Talk about deeper issues, not just technique – “Why don’t you respond when I touch you?” “Why do you give me the cold shoulder?” “It seems like you want sex a lot more than me.”
“Make sure you see any sexual problem as a joint problem, one you both have. It’s not: “you’ve got the problem. Fix it and get back to me.” It’s not even: “I’ll help you with your problem.” It needs to be approached as: “We have a problem. Let’s work on it.” [i]
Talking about sex will create deeper intimacy between you and your spouse and will immediately improve your sexual experience because of the closeness you feel as a couple.
Sex is a very important part of a healthy marriage and if you can’t communicate about it you will end up with challenges.
Don’t delay! Get your list of questions and start today!
For more on sex in marriage, read:
10 Ways to make Sex Happen when you have Kids
Is the Difference Between Male and Female Sexual Responsiveness Holding your Love-life Ransom?
What Couples can Expect from Sex after 40
God in the Bedroom – Connecting God and Sex
Why do you struggle to talk about sex with your spouse? What can you do to change that?
[i] Dr David Clarke, I Don’t Want A Divorce, 172