Communicating your desires in the bedroom can be a daunting and awkward affair - and certainly not the regular fare of topics that most married couples would readily jump into!
Many couples probably may not perceive this to be an important facet of marriage life. However, just as how engaging in regular communication on different aspects of life with our spouse helps make a great relationship — communicating our thoughts, feelings and emotions about sexual intimacy is no exception.
The ability to talk about sexuality to our partner could be the key to enhancing marriage intimacy and relationship.
The truth is a healthy sex life in marriage is a great gift, and it is something to be enjoyed and nurtured through open and honest communication. Studies have shown that couples who talk more about sex have more satisfying sex lives and are more in tune with each other in real life. Knowing how to please your other half also builds relationship confidence and has good ripple effects for your marriage.
How can couples work towards achieving good, open communication in sexual intimacy?
For example, you may not be interested in sex because you’re overburdened with housework or worried about meeting your sales target. Yet instead of sharing about the source of frustration honestly with your partner, you send signals of irritation that could be hurtful or misconstrued.
Creating a safe environment to be open and honest with each other about potential roadblocks to sexual desire forms a good foundation for sexual intimacy.
Joyce Brothers puts it aptly, “Real intimacy is only possible to the degree that we can be honest about what we are doing and feeling.”
Despite this, many couples find sharing their sexual needs and desires more difficult than actually having sex. This is because one needs to be vulnerable to share your feelings, express what you like, and be open about what pleasures your body.
Some may worry about being rejected or hurting their spouse unintentionally, or are simply unsure of how their spouse may react to their preferences.
If there are issues in your sex life, talking about it honestly and sensitively with your spouse might be needful in order to strengthen your relationship and mutual understanding, while working towards ways to meet each other’s needs.
I remember that with each new child we welcomed into our family, bedroom activity would take a dip for a period of time while we adjusted to our new family dynamics.
Sex was the last thing on our minds and the first priority was to get as much sleep as we could – without waking the baby! It really helped that both of us were on the same page in understanding the ebb and flow of family life and gave each other space to adjust our expectations in the midst of transitions.
Here are some common areas that might be worth checking in with your spouse about:
- Changes in sex drive
Desires for intimacy can be affected by circumstantial changes such as health issues, e.g., sexual dysfunction or mental health issues like depression. They could also be affected by important transitions in life, such as welcoming a baby, post-partum recovery, transiting to a new job, periods of heightened work stress, etc.
These are periods when new levels of understanding need to be forged and when the affected party may need more support from their other half.
If your spouse is experiencing challenges, do be attentive to their emotions and feelings. Your spouse will appreciate your listening ear, and validation of their feelings.
- Mismatched libidos
It is not uncommon for one spouse to have a stronger desire for sex than the other. This may be an obvious statement but sex SHOULD be enjoyed. If sex is not enjoyable for one party, it could lead to resentment or avoidance.
If your spouse expresses discomfort or seems to be making excuses to avoid sex, it may be time to have an honest discussion about what needs to be added, changed, or altered for both husband and wife to have an enjoyable experience. Check in with each other on ways to come to a compromise in meeting and satisfying each other’s needs.
- How to go about family planning
This could be an important aspect to discuss for those who may feel the pressure or desire to conceive for a variety of reasons. Discuss each other’s priorities in your current season in life and how that may affect family planning and intimacy.
For example, a wife may feel her biological clock is ticking whereas her husband prefers to focus on his career and financial security before starting a family or having more children.
Both concerns are valid and each couple needs to navigate that so that these conflicting desires do not affect intimacy. Are both spouses ready to grow the family with ongoing responsibilities at hand and what are the support systems in place? Knowing the “whys” will help couple’s understand their shared goals and align themselves as a couple for that particular season of life. It can also help relieve the pressure once there is understanding and acceptance from the other.
- Always the one initiating sex
This could be a sensitive topic to deal with especially since we may have certain expectations while having autonomy over our own bodies.
Sexual rejection can fuel personal insecurities about attractiveness and value as a partner, with thoughts like: Does “no” mean “I’m no good”? or “Is my spouse no longer attracted to me?
The key issue is learning how to negotiate sexual boundaries and learning how to say “no” without damaging your relationship. Reassurance is key in affirming and showing our spouse that they are loved, wanted and needed. Compensating with relational intimacy, affection, talk or cuddle time could be one way to reinforce this to our loved one.
It can be awkward embarking on this journey with your spouse, but think of it as an area of growth for you both. With practice and intentional investment, you will reap the rewards of a fulfilling sex life!
© 2022 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
Tracey Or is a full time mother of six, part-time dreamer and writer at her blog, Memoirs of a Budget Mum. Those who know her well knows she gets through life with a good joke, coffee and the occasional Netflix.
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