By: Cristina Trette
So much connection can happen during sex: it feels great, happy brain chemicals are released, and healing skin to skin contact occurs. For highly attuned couples, sex becomes a potent exchange of mind, body, and spirit which creates bonding and the experience of oneness. This is good stuff I tell you!
Yet, after years of marriage and kids some couples say they have lost interest in having sex with each other.
On the other hand, other couples who have been married and monogamous for decades or more say sex gets better and better.
One thing we know is that couples that are satisfied with their sex life, talk about sex...
What they like
What they don't like
What they want to try
What they don't want to try
What makes them uncomfortable
And what their fantasies are.
Many couples attempt sex talk but end up triggered and fighting, keeping them stuck and sexless. The focus of this blog post is centered on how to start talking about sex with your partner, in an effort to nudge things forward.
It starts with your emotions
Before you even begin to talk, explore your emotions. It is healthy and normal to want to have sex with your partner. It is also healthy and normal to feel frustrated, sad, or scared for example, if your partner stops wanting it.
The way you express your emotions matters
What you are feeling is healthy and normal. But how you show your feelings and talk about the situation, will impact your relationship, which can be positive or negative.
For example, if your partner is not interested in sex and you show your anger by announcing harshly that you are sleeping on the couch, this will keep the no -sex cycle in place.
Or if you show your anger by nailing your husband with questions, when he says he is tired and wants to sleep instead of having sex, this will also keep the no-sex-cycle in place.
Before moving on, let me restate:
The emotions you have are valid. Allowing yourself to feel whatever you are feeling is healthy. However, the way you express your feelings will determine whether your conversation creates closeness or conflict and whether you start having sex again or stay sexless.
Let's explore anger a little more
Underneath feelings of anger are almost always unrecognized softer feelings such as sadness or fear.
See if you can get to these feelings. If you show sadness (about the loss of connection) or fear (that you are drifting apart) this is likely to draw your partner in. Approaching your partner in this way will create an entirely different kind of discussion than the scenes painted above.
Before you sit down to discuss sex with your partner, explore your feelings, and be ready to communicate from a vulnerable and soft place.
Do not try to have important conversations about wanting more sex when you are in the midst of trying to get it, during it, or after one or both of you has refused it.
Plan a time to talk that is neutral, when you will be free from distractions, and when life, in general, is going well. Sometimes my partner and I like to walk and talk when we have important topics to discuss. This is a great way to stay balanced, focused, and emotionally regulated (i.e. untriggered).
When you talk about sex, pay attention to your body language. Exude a presence of closeness and connection with your partner (slow down, make eye contact, touch). Attune to your partner, try to sense what he or she is feeling.
Request and commit to honesty and directness
Be explicit in your desire to hear the truth. Then listen. There may be some things shared that are hard to hear. Yet, this is where the possibility for change lies.
Make one small change
If you are the one who is unhappy with the status quo, start with making one small change. It may be to stop focusing on sex and to start focus on affection. Or it may be to be creative and bold. For some ways to do this, click here.
Cristina Trette works with couples, parents, and individuals who want to improve relationships and personal well-being. To learn more visit www.cristinatrette.com or www.elevatingconnection.com.
Hello! I am Cristina Trette. I am a Couples Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified in Perinatal Mental Health. I write on all things related to relationships, parenthood, and connection.