Talk to your spouse about sex? Hmmm. Perhaps your response is:
- “I’m too squeamish to talk about that!”
- “Any time I try to talk about it we get into a fight.”
- “If we talk about it, I’ll feel like he’s forcing me to do what I don’t want to do.”
- “I don’t know how to put into words what I’m feeling.”
Sex can become one of the most contentious and painful aspects of a marriage. Or it can be one of the most affirming and bonding parts of your relationship. One of the best way to move sex from something you avoid to something you anticipate is through talking about it.
Not long ago I asked my husband one of the questions below. His immediate response: “What a wonderful question!” We talked about it, and it was a beautiful moment of emotional closeness between us.
How can you talk about sex with your spouse without either of you becoming angry, frustrated, or feeling put down?
It starts with the emotional and spiritual connection between you. If talking about other topics is difficult, talking about sex may not be the first thing you want to tackle. Some of the skills you need to do this successfully also apply to any communication between husband and wife.
I’m also going to assume that both you and your spouse are basically good people, people of good will, people who care about each other and want your relationship to be at its best. If there is abuse or addiction going on, those issues need to be dealt with prior to talking about sex together.
Here are some specific tips that may help you talk to your spouse about sex.
- Recognize that men and women are different. This of course applies not only to the sexual parts of you, but to other areas also. The way your partner handles stress, expresses needs and feelings, and processes information is different from yours. Use all you know about your spouse to make your communication about sex helpful rather than destructive.
- Recognize your sexual pasts. Even if your husband or wife is your first sexual partner, there is a history to your sexuality, and it’s different for each of you. Examples of parents and others, media exposure, Biblical teaching, abuse or molestation – these and many more elements may impact how you and your spouse approach sex with each other.
- Choose the time and setting carefully. When either of you is tired, stressed, angry, or preoccupied is not the time to bring up such a sensitive topic. And trying to talk when either of you is feeling aroused may be a serious mood killer. The best time for these conversations are when both of you are feeling as calm and connected as possible.
- Get past your squeamishness! This may be a more difficult issue for some than others, but it really IS OK to talk about sex – with your spouse. Need a Biblical example? Read the Song of Solomon. Both partners are enraptured with each other, and are free to talk about what arouses them sexually and their sexual relationship together. If you want intimacy with your spouse to be better, you’ll need to push yourself to talk about sex.
- Be willing to be vulnerable. If you and your spouse are not used to talking about such intimate things it may feel risky to do so now. Start by expressing something about yourself. Share something on a feeling level. “I feel lonely when we don’t have sex for a couple weeks.” “I’m grateful for you as my spouse, but I’m worried I’m not meeting your desires for intimacy.” “It’s much easier for me to get in the mood when you’ve had a shower.”
- Listen. Listen. Listen! Being vulnerable yourself will hopefully help your spouse feel safe enough to be vulnerable with you also. Listen without judgment, trying first to understand. If you don’t understand, ask them to explain more. If you’re a talker, resist the urge to start explaining or fixing or planning. Listen. And then listen some more.
- Some questions to ask. Here’s a list of things you can talk with your spouse about in the arena of sexuality. You may know some of these things about him or her already, or at least think you do. But it’s definitely worth talking about. Pick the question(s) that feels safest first, and then try the others:
- What do I do that makes you want to be with me physically? Are there other things I could do that would make you want me more?
- What might I be doing that turns you off?
- How do you feel about how I take care of myself physically? Are my clothes too sexy, or not sexy enough? Hair? Makeup? Grooming? Hygiene?
- How often am I responding to your sexual desires? Am I missing messages you are trying to send?
- How am I coming across to you sexually? Demanding? Uninterested? Too forceful? Too passive?
- What kind of messages about sex did you grow up with? What were your previous sexual experiences like? (Yes, I think you need to talk about this – perhaps not in every detail. But being honest with each other in this area will help you be closer.)
- Are you facing any sexual temptations that I can help support you in overcoming?
- How would you like our sexual relationship to be better? Are there things you’d like us to work on, try, or change?
That’s only a start. Like any part of your relationship, your physical intimacy can grow richer, safer, and more meaningful with time.
Most of all, ask God to be present with you in the bedroom, and when you talk about intimacy. He created marriage. He created sex. And He will be there with you to both face the challenges and celebrate the goodness of this gift from Him.
Your Turn: What questions would you like to ask your spouse about sex? What questions would you like your spouse to ask you? Leave a comment below.
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