Far too many of us learned about sex from an embarrassed parent trying to talk about the “birds and the bees,” some films in health class about STDs, or even from and overly enthusiastic description of sex provided by an older sibling. Our own sexual experiences were sometimes awkward, uncomfortable, and occasionally great (or so we hoped). Due to our limited information and doubts about our own experiences, even as adults, we are hesitant to talk about sex with our intimate partner or our spouse.
However daunting the prospect of talking about sex is, it is much worse to let things go unsaid. Ideally, in our intimate relationships and marriages our sexual relationship is the counter point to the familiar and predictable aspects of our daily lives. The beautiful private sex life that you share with your partner is a secret world of intimacy the two of you create through the close bond of sexual experiences. This should be the place where you can be together and share your deepest expressions of connection and trust.
This trust has to start with knowing yourself first. Our sexual appetite is a biological appetite, and just like our appetite for food, we each have specific things we like better than others. Shouldn’t you and your partner know what each other’s likes and dislikes are? Just like you know what kind of pizza you like best, or which side of the bed you sleep on; you should know what turns you on, what turns your partner on, and how often you want to be turned on.
Too many couples are unable to experience sex as mutually pleasurable because they can’t talk about it. Sex drives vary; he wants more she wants less or vice versa. Sex used as a bargaining tool or as a reward creates a weightiness around sex that can turn it into an unappealing chore. All too often sex is paired with shame and interferes with people’s ability to enjoy sex and certainly with their ability to talk openly about sex and what turns them on.
Additionally, the rate of sexually transmitted diseases in the US is rising as the use of condoms in all age groups declines. Even in the over 50 crowd, the rate of STDs has risen nearly 10% recently due to that population’s increase in dating, and their belief that condoms are only needed to prevent pregnancy.
So, how do you bring up the topic of sex with your partner? Never talk about sex as a part of a heated discussion. This is a topic to address when both partners are calm, and there is some time for discussion. The conversation also depends on the stage of your relationship. When you begin dating someone there is that tricky question of how long to wait to have sex. Relationship experts present a host of “waiting for sex” rules ranging from 3 dates to 9 months. It takes some courage to make your own decision, but telling someone you feel your relationship is moving towards intimacy and you’d like to discuss protection and what works for each of you before you’re naked in bed is a good start.
If you are already intimate with your partner, but not finding enough pleasure in your shared sexual activities, you want to make sure your conversation is positive and open rather than negative and judgmental. Simple statements like, have you ever thought of what it would be like if we tried _____, or what is your favorite position? I know mine is_____, or I read an article about sex toys/sexual positions/what turns men on, what do you think about that? Just getting the conversation started can lead to a more fulfilling sex life, and that leads to a happier relationship. So, be brave and start the conversation. You and your partner will see benefits!
Cathy Cox, MEd, MSW, and certified coach at Cathy Coaches Change. She works with individuals at Mid-Life, helping them through divorce, relationship changes, and major life transitions. Cathy is also an avid surfer, and certified Yoga Teacher. She hosts a weekly radio show,“Mid-Life Love-Life” at KX@OneLaguna.com. You can reach Cathy through her website, or find her on Facebook.
Photo credit: jDevaun