How to Have the Sex Talk With Your Partner

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A variety of issues can cause marital distress, including problems with sex and sexual satisfaction. Even though this can be a common problem among married couples, having the sex talk with your partner can be daunting. It may even seem easier to talk to a stranger online about what you're experiencing than to discuss it with your own partner—which may explain why the topic of sex is so commonly discussed in online relationship forums.

These conversations can bring up a lot of anxiety, which can then cause you to avoid having them altogether. Know that there are some strategies to make these talks easier, and you're likely to find it worth the effort. 

Reasons to Have a Sex Talk

If you're experiencing issues with your sex life, you may want to consider having a sex talk with your partner. Research has found that couples who have strong sexual communication are more satisfied with their sex lives.

Open communication can lead to greater feelings of intimacy and a stronger relationship (and it's important to note that in general, talking honestly with your partner may increase your overall satisfaction with your relationship).

Some reasons to have a sex talk with your partner could include:

  • Lack of sexual satisfaction
  • Desire to try something new
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Change in libido
  • Lack of intimacy or need for more affection
  • Feelings of sexual rejection or always having to initiate sex
  • Family planning

When to Talk About Sex

There is a time and place to discuss sex with your partner. Waiting for the right moment to address the topic can help you get around some of those feelings of discomfort or awkwardness that can be common during sex talks. You should also:

  • Pick a neutral location. Do not talk about sexual problems in your bedroom or at bedtime. Pick a more "neutral" location. Make sure the kids are not in earshot!
  • Avoid post-sex talks. Do not talk about sex right after having sex. Again, pick a more "neutral" time. 
  • Avoid blindsiding your partner. If you want to talk about sexual problems, let your partner know (without placing blame) that you think the two of you need to have a talk about your sexual intimacy. Set up a time to have the talk.

How to Talk About Sex

There are some steps you can take to help make conversations about sex easier for both of you.

Start Slow

Have a "soft start" to the conversation. Begin with your goal to feel closer and connected with your spouse. Avoid blaming. Skip criticisms and focus on things you can both do to make your sex life more fulfilling.

Focus on Intimacy

Remember that affection and intimacy are just as important as the frequency of sex. There are ways to build intimacy and feel more connected beyond intercourse, so be sure to talk about your needs for other types of affection as well.

Skip the Surprises

It is important that you are both on the same page, so you should always initiate those conversations first before springing any surprises on your partner. Talk about what you both might enjoy and fantasies you might have. If you do decide to introduce some of these into your relationship, research your options together.

If you do not want to create more problems in your sex life, don't purchase any sex advice books or sex toys without discussing the issue with your spouse first.

Express Yourself

Talk with one another about your expectations, your fears, your desires, and your concerns—and be honest. It is critical to talk about your innermost feelings about this. 

Do not be afraid to talk about what you like sexually and what you don't like. Your comfort level is an important part of having a satisfying sex life. 

Talk Often

Realize that you may need to have a few conversations and not just one long conversation. This is not a one-time conversation; it should be an ongoing discussion and a normal part of your relationship.

Know Your Sexual Style

Knowing your "sexual style" can help you better understand which forms of intimacy you find the most satisfying—and the same rings true for your partner. Explore your sexual styles with one another. All couples have these styles or moods at some point in time during their married lives:

  • Spiritual: This is a union of mind, body, and soul that reflects your deep appreciation of being with one another. It can be created by noticing the small moments in your lives.
  • Funny: This style is when you can laugh and tease one another in bed. It's about having fun together. There is a light and playful undertone. 
  • Angry: This is making love even when you're ticked off at each other. This style can be healing. However, be sure that your problems are eventually talked about and resolved.
  • Lusty: This style is wicked and flirty. You may be giving each other seductive looks or doing a "quickie." This is also about the joy of having sex just for the sake of sex.
  • Tender: This style is the gentle, romantic, healing sex that involves massages, light touches, and ministering to one another. You both are into the sensations of sex and focus on giving each other pleasure. 
  • Fantasy: The fantasy style is a collaboration between the two of you to be daring and to experiment a bit. Be careful about sharing your personal sexual fantasies with one another. If you do decide to share your fantasies with your spouse, the two of you need to set guidelines and honor each other's limits.

What if you and your partner have different sexual styles? Open and honest communication can help here as well. Talking through your differences can allow you to better understand and address them, ensuring that you both feel satisfied. If you feel like you need professional help reconciling those differences, you and your partner might also consider sex therapy.

A Word From Verywell

It has been said that "good lovers are made, not born." If you truly want your sexual relationship to be all that it can be, you should take the time to talk with one another. 

Engaging in regular communication is an important component of any great relationship—and that includes talking about sex. This conversation is necessary for all couples, and it isn't a one-time event. It's something you and your partner should take part in regularly before you're married, when you're newlyweds, and further on during your partnership. Having a healthy sex life is a great gift, and it's to be enjoyed and nurtured. 

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