All couples should talk about sex, but unfortunately many people feel uncomfortable doing so. You may think it’s a taboo topic even within your marriage or perhaps you have just avoided the subject all together in the past and preferred to just coast along. You may also worry that talking frankly about sex and sexuality will turn your partner off.
The trick here is to put yourself and your partner at ease so you can openly talk about sex. It’s ok to feel a little uneasy and vulnerable at first, and once you get the hang of it, it’ll get easier over time. Keep reading to learn about some common tools you and your partner can use to make talking about sex not only more comfortable, but also a pathway towards a more fulfilling sex life.
Use Meta-Communication To Ease Into Sensitive Topics
Meta-communication can be defined as talking about talking. It’s a way to communicate about communication itself. It allows you to express your feelings, reservations, and intentions about a particular topic, in this case, sex, fantasies, and physical and emotional needs. Here are a couple examples that illustrate how meta-communication can help you ease into the conversation with your partner:
Example 1: “There are things I want to tell you but I’m nervous about bringing them up.”
Example 2: “I’ve been having wild sex dreams about some of my fantasies,and I have been embarrassed to tell you.”
By using meta-communication, you’re acknowledging some degree of vulnerability about the topic to your partner and giving you the ability to assess their reaction before you go into more detail.This should help both of you ease into more sensitive topics.
It’s also very likely that your partner is in a similar situation. Perhaps both of you have concerns or unmet needs related to your sex life, but you’ve both been reluctant to bring it up. If both of you avoid the topic of sex, it is going to lead to much larger issues related to intimacy and emotional connection down the road. Once you get your thoughts out in the open, you can have an authentic conversation and then start making progress in a positive direction.
Alleviate Pressure With A Sexy-Word Exercise
Talking about sex, sexuality, or our bodies doesn’t come easy to everyone. To alleviate some of the pressure and become more comfortable, couples can try a sexy-word exercise. It’s a fun and playful way to jump start the conversation. The goal is to empower yourself with the vocabulary and comfort level to have genuine and open conversations about sex while hopefully having some fun along the way.
- Divide a piece of paper into 2 columns.
- In column 1, write as many words as you can think of for a sexual act
- In column 2, write as many words as you can think of for sexually related anatomy (i.e. if your knee cap is not an erogenous zone, skip it).
- Next, review the list, circle the words that you like, cross out words you don’t like, and underline the words that are okay depending on context.
- Share and compare your list with your partner. What words do you both like? Employ these words in your conversations about sex. This exercise is helpful because it begins to set boundaries around words used, and creates a common sexual vocabulary. You’ll feel more confident and secure knowing that you are both using words that have been approved together.
Write Down Your Thoughts First
Often writing things down feels easier than speaking out loud. Organizing and writing down your thoughts gives you pause. It’s an opportunity to prepare before a conversation and get your thoughts and feelings in order. Feeling prepared and confident going into a discussion will make it easier for you to navigate the conversation itself.
If you and your spouse already had a conversation that didn’t go especially well, you can write a response letter as a follow-up. It’s sometimes easier to get all your thoughts down on a piece of paper when you have the time and space to think things through. Writing things down also feels safer because you’re not worried about the interruptions, tension, or disagreements that may arise during a verbal discussion.
Paint A Picture Of What You Want
Infusing positivity into a sensitive conversation is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll have productive outcomes. Instead of dwelling on what isn’t working, paint a picture of what you want, both for yourself and for your partner. Here’s a positive way to express your desire to talk about sex with your partner:
“I want us to talk about our sex life so I can get my needs fulfilled and make sure your needs too are being met.”
Notice how the statement above is two-sided; it shows your intention to have both you and your partner benefit from a conversation about your sex life. Make sure the picture you paint for your spouse reflects a need for mutual benefits and satisfaction. When you invite your partner into your vision, they’ll be more likely to join you.
Redirection Is Better Than Rejection
Let’s say you and your partner are enjoying an intimate moment and you want to ask them to do (or stop doing) something specific. But then it occurs to you that your request may be a turn-off for your partner. Should you stop altogether or use the opportunity to explore?
In the heat of that moment, redirecting your partner is better than rejecting. Try saying something like “I’d like a foot massage”. Instead of swatting your spouse away when their touch isn’t appealing, you’re guiding them toward an action that is more satisfying to you. It helps if you can give a big seductive grin as well.
Moreover, redirecting can be one small step toward trying something you’ve wanted to try but haven’t been brave enough to ask for. It’s important to note that most couples are satisfied with a positive trajectory and incremental movement toward a desired goal. As long as there’s forward movement, the final goal or state seems less important to most people.
Talking about sex can feel awkward and stressful for some couples who haven’t had enough practice doing so. Just like with any skill, the more experience you have, the easier it becomes. Whether you’re having a hard time getting started or simply want some professional guidance for faster results, working with a couples therapist can be a big help.