How to Talk About Sexual Problems in Marriage and Increase Intimacy
Posted On August 10, 2012
Sexual problems in marriage are caused by any aspect of sexuality or intimacy that makes even one of the partners dissatisfied. Unremedied, it will erode the relationship.
People who are not sexually satisfied in their marriage begin to lose sexual desire for their partners. After that, the frequency of sex drops off or stops altogether. The sex drive is not eliminated though, and may propel either person toward a new relationship with someone else if the opportunity arises. Prevention of an affair is a whole lot easier than ending one, so it is important to catch dissatisfaction early and to do something about it. Making sex and intimacy enjoyable for both partners is one of the keys to keeping marriages healthy.
Begin with clear communication
Just as with other kinds of problems, and perhaps more so, clear communication is the best way to set about making sex more enjoyable for both of you. Communicating your desires clearly while avoiding criticism is a great way to improve your marriage. If your request makes your marriage better for you, then it will make it better for your spouse as well. Don’t let your spouse’s excuse ever be “I didn’t know.” Your spouse is not a mind reader, however obvious the situation appears to you. Many men and women have gaps in their knowledge about how to please their spouse for either intimacy or sex.
Are you too embarrassed or shy?
If you are embarrassed or shy about talking about sex, then that is related to your insecurity. Shyness and embarrassment are both types of insecurity that interfere with communication and usually result from an unreasonable fear of how other people will respond. Shy people not only have fewer dates and friends, they also can experience sexual problems in their marriage. If you absolutely can’t bring yourself to communicate your sexual desires to your partner, you can get some counseling help to work on the insecurity, or some coaching help to work on how to say things in a good way.
Some examples of fuzzy and clear communication about your sexual needs and desires
“I want to have better sex and more often.”
“I want to have sex at least twice a week and for you to make me orgasm before you do (for a woman) or
“I want to have sex at least twice a week and to also get oral sex from you at least two other times per week (for a man).”
“I want sex to be more interesting.”
“I want to have sex with the lights on, dress like Superman, and you like Lois Lane.”
The point of these examples is not to tell you what you should want, but rather to show you how clearly you need to talk about what you want from your sexual relationship. If you can’t bring yourself to say what you want, then write it on a piece of paper and pass it to your partner, if you want. The main thing is to be clear. Your request does not obligate your spouse in any way, but you are not likely to get what you don’t ask for.
Consider the possibilities after you communicate clearly about your sexual desires
What often happens is that partners agree. I have seen this happen in many relationships. Being clear may help your partner figure out the answer to a problem they may have been struggling with. Like why you have been distant, unhappy, or resisting having sex. When people have to guess about what is bothering their partner, they often guess wrong and also guess something more extreme. Also, being clear about what you want may help your partner to say what he or she wants.
Your partner may disagree. If so, then you are no worse off than before. In fact, you are better off because you know it is not a matter of communication. There are ways to take a situation where people disagree and turn it into a win-win situation. But, without communication, we really can’t know what’s going on. Be sure not to get angry if your spouse disagrees with your request. Anger will get you less of what you want. If you work on improving your relationship in other ways, you may end up getting what you want, at least sometimes, without having to talk about it again.
“What if I don’t like something that my partner desires? I’m afraid to say what I want because I may not like what he (or she) wants.”
First, thank your partner for being open with you about it. “Thanks for telling me. I’m really glad you feel comfortable enough to tell me.”
Try not to be rejecting or judgmental. A good response is, “I’m not ready for that right now,” rather than “I’ll never do that you sicko.”
If you are unsure about it, suggest trying it as an experiment to see how it goes. Usually when a partner’s idea doesn’t work out, they also scrap the idea. “Let’s try it for a month and see how it goes.”
Consider if there is some part of it that you can agree with. “Oral twice a week is too much for me, but I think once a week would work.”
Make an alternative suggestion. “Lois Lane is no good for me, but I wouldn’t mind being Batgirl.”
“Does marriage and relationship coaching address sexual issues?”
Sex and talking about sexual problems are an important part of committed relationships. Sexual problems can be a result or a cause of emotional distance in marriage. If you or your spouse are having difficulties with the mechanics of sex, then coaching is not your best choice. If the problem is connected to communication or emotional connection, then relationship coaching is appropriate. In relationship coaching we work on communication, boundaries, increasing attraction, and problem solving—focusing on what is most needed for your relationship.