How to Talk about Sex for a More Satisfying Marriage

Sexual dissatisfaction can cause relationship problems which can cause more sexual dissatisfaction. Learn how to improve sexual satisfaction for both of you, using better communication.

sexual problems in marriage
A happy marriage depends partly on both partners being sexually satisfied.

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.

When sex drops off, the sex drive is not eliminated from either partner. A person’s sex drive, in a sexless marriage, may propel either partner toward a new relationship with someone else.

We can become attracted to others without even meaning to, when our sex drive is not being satisfied in our marriage. We can be turned on a lot more easily by others, whether by their appearance of the way they talk to us. There is nothing like hunger to stimulate the appetite for food of any quality.

Affair prevention is a whole lot easier than ending an affair, so it is important to catch sexual dissatisfaction early and take steps to remedy it.

Making sex and intimacy enjoyable for both partners is one of the keys to keeping marriages healthy.

Begin with clear communication

Clear communication is the best way to set about making sex more enjoyable for both of you. Clear communication must not include criticism if you want it to be well received. This means you are not going to be telling your spouse what you don’t like. Your aim should be to present a win win proposition that will appeal to your spouse.  

If your request includes something your spouse also would like, it will be better received. You may be interested in a new sexual behavior, while your spouse is interested in more connection. In that case, help your spouse to see how your sexual request will help with the connection he or she wants. If there is no way that it actually will, then don’t request it.

We can make requests that only benefit us, but only when our relationships are doing well. Making a selfish request in a strained relationship will only make things worse. Help your spouse to get more of what he or she wants before thinking of making a request just for yourself.

If you are unsure whether it would be good for your spouse or not, then give it a try. But ease into it and look for red and green lights. Saying that you heard that some couples do such and such may be direct enough that you get a disgusted signal or an interested signal from your spouse. If you don’t get much of any response, don’t push. Your spouse may need some time to process what you are saying.

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. Your spouse may want the same thing as you, but just like you, not know how to bring it up.

Are you too embarrassed or shy?

If you are embarrassed or shy about talking about sex, then that is related to your insecurity. It stems from a fear of what might happen. Shyness prevents rejection but it also prevents connection. You have to decide between your emotional safety and your emotional dissatisfaction.

Shy people are lacking in communication skills, so need to learn those first, before taking the plunge. Otherwise, they are more likely to get rejection and become even more shy. As a coach, I see every problem as a skills deficit. And, I see learning skills as the fix to every problem. I challenge you to come up with any problem that does not need some sort of skill for fixing.

If you just can’t bring yourself to communicate your sexual desires to your partner, you can get some counseling to work on reducing your fears. Or, you can get coaching to learn how to say things in a good way and to know the best response to however your spouse reacts. A counselor will ask you what you want to say and ask you about your feelings. A true coach will ask you what you want to achieve and then tell you what to say to maximize your chances of success.

I want my clients to have success the first time they say something. Many times they won’t have a second chance or won’t try again if they have an initial failure.

Some examples of fuzzy and clear communication about your sexual needs and desires

Fuzzy and selfish:

“I want to have better sex and more often.”

Clear and win-win:

“I want to have sex at least twice a week, orgasm before you, and be the best sexual partner you ever had (for a woman).” or

“I want to have romantic sex with you at least twice a week and to also get oral sex from you at least two other times per week.”

I do not want you to take these examples as sexual prescriptions. I do believe that it is best for women to orgasm before men do because a man will stay motivated to please as long as he has not yet had orgasm. But, as to whether you have oral sex or not and how many times, it comes down to individual preferences. I just wanted to give some specific examples.

Fuzzy and selfish:

“I want you to be more active and participatory during sex so that I am more stimulated .”

Fuzzy and Win-Win:

“I want sex our sex to be more varied and fresh so that it doesn’t just become a routine for either of us.”


“I want to try, as an experiment, making sex more playful and fun for us. For example, I could be Superman and you could be Lois Lane.”

God created sex for marital pleasure and not just for making babies. The Bible gives us a lot of freedom on how to enjoy sex in our marriage as long as it is something just between us and our spouse. Did you ever give a gift to someone and they never used it? I bet that was disappointing for you. Well, sex is one of God’s gifts for us. Enjoying it in our marriage will please Him, too.

The point of these examples is not to tell you what you should want. They are to help you consider what you want, to help you consider how you can create a win win, and to how to communicate that. As long as your relationship is otherwise good, things aren’t going to go too badly no matter what you say. However, you will have more success saying things clearly and in a way that considers your spouse.

Your request does not obligate your spouse in any way, but you are less likely to get what you don’t ask for.

Prepare for the response before you communicate your request

Your partner may agree. The most common response in good relationships is agreement or at least agreement t try. This is very strong evidence that you should make your relationship as good as possible before making requests–sexual or otherwise. Men often believe that sex builds relationships, so pressure their spouse for sex when the relationship is poor. That will only make the relationship worse. Relationship building must come first.

Your partner may disagree.  If your relationship is otherwise good, but your partner disagrees with your request, you need to realize that you are no worse off than before.  In fact, you are better off because you know it is not a matter of your lack of communication.  Be sure not to get angry if your spouse refuses 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. If the relationship is good and what you want is fundamental to keeping your relationship, then you can get professional help. Do not make your spouse feel like something is wrong with him or her. There is nothing good that will come of that, even if it is true. Learn how to address this issue in your relationship in a nondestructive way. Most people will not know how to do this without learning.

“What if I don’t like sexual behavior that my spouse desires?”

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.”
  4. Consider if there is some part of it that you can agree with.  “Oral twice a week is too much for me, but we can try once a week and see how it goes.”
  5. Make an alternative suggestion.  “Lois Lane is no good for me, but I wouldn’t mind trying out being Wonder Woman.”

One thing to notice about these example is their trial nature. Don’t ask your spouse to commit to a lifetime of a sexual behavior they have never done. Also, don’t commit to permanently doing something you haven’t done. If the relationship becomes worse, someone becomes unappreciative, or some other unforeseen issue happens, it’ time to try something else.

I encourage people to try new behaviors with their spouse if they are not dangerous, don’t violate the marriage commitment, and don’t violate their values. This goes not just for sex, but also for other things your spouse would like to do.

“Does marriage and relationship coaching address sexual issues?”

If you and your spouse have problems particular to sex only, then I recommend you seek out a sex therapist to work with either you or your and your spouse. Relationship coaching and counseling would not be your best choices.

Counselors will help you talk about your needs and problems. As a coach, I don’t like that approach as it creates more division and often leads to divorce.

Coaches view good sex as a result of a good relationship. Rather than working with you and your spouse on problems, a coach will teach you alone how to attract and connect with your spouse, and how to use boundaries, if necessary. You are welcome to see what my coaching packages have to offer you.

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