Research shows when couples talk more about sex, they have more satisfying sex lives. Despite that finding, many couples find it hard to talk to their partner about their needs and desires. Talking about your sex life can sometimes feel more vulnerable than actually having sex. You have to share your feelings, express what you like, and be open about your body. When sharing your desires with your partner there can be a fear of rejection or those desires being a turn-off for your partner.
Great sexual communication is the same as great everyday communication in a relationship. You need to have a safe environment to discuss your feelings openly and honestly. You need to have great listening skills, use validation, and use a gentle start-up.
Here are some tips for having that conversation:
- Create a ritual for talking about sex.
A great ritual of connection can be how you connect sexually and talking about connecting sexually too. Set aside some time each week to talk about your sex life together.
- Talk about what is going well between you sexually first. Share some things you enjoy and that your partner does well.
Sharing what you like about your sex life together can start the conversation off on a positive note.
- Let your partner know you want to share something that may be hard for you to open up about.
If you are worried about rejection or that your partner may be turned off by a fantasy, it may help to tell them upfront your feeling insecure. “Honey, I want to talk about a sexual fantasy I have but I’m worried you may not like it. I need to feel safe in order to share this with you.”
- Tell your partner what feels good on your body.
Share about intimate moments you’ve had in the past that felt good or how you like to touch yourself.
- Take turns sharing fantasies with each other.
If you open up the conversation for both people to share desires, it can really deepen the conversation.
- Recognize that consent is important. If your partner can’t engage in your desires, they have that right.
Your partner may tell you they aren’t comfortable doing things that you would like. It’s important to be respectful of that. You can further the conversation by asking questions to deepen your understanding of each other’s turn-ons.
- Talk about how to initiate and refuse sex in your relationship.
How will you initiate sex together? If you have a preference for how that is done, you can share that with your partner. Also, identifying a gentle way to refuse sex can be a good compromise as well.
- Use the Gottman Card Deck app to build sex love maps and come up with new ideas.
The sex questions are designed to learn more about the way your partner feels about sex. The salsa cards have ideas for ways to spice things up.
- Talk during sex and in the moment.
It can also be helpful to talk about what feels good, what you want your partner to do, and even checking in with your partner about how things feel for them too.
- Shop for toys, accessories, or sexual wellness items together.
Shop at a local store or online. It can open up a conversation about trying new things.
When talking about sex, the goal is to have open communication and learn about each other. If you’ve tried these tips and you still find it difficult to communicate about sex, talk to your doctor and/or seek out a qualified mental health professional to help. A therapist can give you the tools to communicate effectively with your partner and can assist with problems like sexual pain, sexual dysfunction, and trauma.
Whether you are looking for ways to increase satisfaction or completely reset your sex life, the Gottmans are here to share the secrets to amazing sex with you—and they may not be what you’d expect. Check out the latest Gottman Relationship Coach: Enriching Your Sex Life.
The Marriage Minute is an email newsletter from The Gottman Institute that will improve your marriage in 60 seconds or less. More than 40 years of research with thousands of couples proves a simple fact: small things often can create big changes over time. Got a minute? Sign up below.