One of the most important emotional blessings of marriage is the experience of true intimacy and trust. Good communication is essential for building the trust which is needed to deal with marital challenges and problems. Knowing and understanding our partner’s feelings, opinions and preferences are necessary to resolve conflicts , negotiate compromises and to make joint decisions and future plans. Sexual communication is an important form of communication which is often overlooked and neglected.
While we do pretty well communicating when it’s about practical and mundane issues, when it comes to sex, there can be a problem. Sexual communication is a tricky thing and difficult for many folks to talk about. Many have misguided feelings of guilt which prevent them from speaking honestly about their feelings or desires. Others think that their wants or preferences are abnormal and are ashamed to reveal them. Still others avoid talking about their frustrations or conflicts with their partner because they are afraid of either hurting their partner’s feelings or being personally rejected for having them.
It is no secret why talking about sex is so hard. Most of us have never been taught how to talk about it. Ironically, many have been ,either explicitly or implicitly, taught not to ask questions or to talk about sex. The harsh attitudes of many churches along with the negative influence of parents have squelched many couples from speaking easily about this most intimate matter. It is no wonder that, given the context in which many have been raised, a lot of folks find it almost impossible to talk about sex with their partner in a calm, honest and direct way.
Unfortunately, because of the embarrassment and discomfort connected with talking about sex , couples often get into the bad habit of not talking about it at all. This communication blackout not only squanders opportunities for couples to learn more about and grow closer to one another but also it can create misunderstanding, resentment and hurt feelings which can, over time, erode not only the passion in a marriage but also the love and trust as well.
Fortunately, with a little help and practice , overcoming one’s uneasiness with and aversion to talking about sex can be accomplished. Greater sharing can lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship. Indeed, learning to speak openly and explicitly about sexual matters with one’s mate can be a deeply rewarding and intimacy-enriching experience. Sexual Communication: The Bedrock to Make Your Bed Rock | Psychology Today
Since sexual communication is such a common and important issue for couples, today begins a series of commentaries on how to talk and listen to your partner about sex . Today’s comment is, “How to get a conversation about sex started?” If you or your partner feel stuck in this area or have trouble sharing feelings or concerns about sex, here are seven tips to help you to get started opening the lines of communication with one another :
Seven tips to improve sexual communication intimacy:
- Stop pretending that your sexual issues don’t matter and make the decision to break the silence.
- Realize that your feelings are normal and that it is important to share them with your partner. For example, would you like more sex or less sex or doing sex a different way? Is there something about sex that bothers you that you want to talk about but of which you are afraid ? Understand that the topic is difficult for everyone but that your partner probably has things to talk about , too. Talking about your concerns is not only okay but it is necessary for the health and growth of your relationship.
- Invite your partner to have a conversation. Tell your partner that there are things on your mind and ask if s/he would mind if you shared them.
- Admit that talking about these matters is uncomfortable for you but that you want your partner to know the real you. Ask your partner how s/he feels about talking about sex together and if s/he has concerns or questions that s/he would like to discuss with you ?
- Start with something easy. Take some time and practice writing about what you want to say in a private journal.
- Use I-Statement form when you finally get around to speaking with your partner, that is, talk about what your experience is and what you want. Don’t attack or criticize your partner.
- Go slowly. The first step is simply to break the ice of silence. You don’t have to resolve issues all of your issues at once. There will be plenty of opportunities to get into some of the more delicate details later. Just appreciate that getting started is huge step forward.
Talking to your partner about what is real for you sexually requires that you feel okay about your own sexuality and accept it as normal. That said, please know that almost no one is completely confident about their own sexuality. That’s OK ! ( I promise that we will talk about how to accept and affirm your own sexuality another time.) Admitting that you are scared and uncomfortable is a great way to get the intimacy ball rolling.
Also I want to hear from you. If you have specific questions about sex or about how to talk to your partner about sex, please contact me (phone or text at 315 380 1005) and I will respond.
Rev, Michael Heath , LMHC, Fellow AAPC 4 17 2021