Talking about sex with your husband can be super awkward.
But if you want sex to be good, you’re going to have to figure out how to talk about it!
We’re in the last week of our direct communication series on the blog. We’re talked about why direct communication is hard. We covered the 6 elements of direct communication (and so much more!). And one of the things that we talked about was how direct communication is often tricky for women because we’ve been told that we need to beat around the bush when talking to our husbands, or else we risk being unsubmissive and disrespectful.
This goes doubly when it comes to sex, because so many Christian resources tell women that their primary goal is to make men feel as if they are doing well in bed–with no consideration to women’s actual experience. As we explained in The Great Sex Rescue:
Instead of saying “no man should be satisfied unless his wife is also regularly satisfied,” too many books have said, “men feel more satisfied if their wives are satisfied, so wives—make sure you’re satisfied,” without any charge to him to care for her needs. The responsibility for her satisfaction is put solely on her—and not even for her own sake, but for his. Instead of telling men to satisfy their wives for their wives’ benefit, women are told to make sure they’re satisfied for their husbands’ benefit. This is really backward.
In the book For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn warns wives that just having sex is not enough—men need to feel wanted. “Having a regular, mutually enjoyed sex life was critical to the man’s feeling of being loved and desired.” But then, in that same chapter, Feldhahn says, “If responding physically is out of the question, let your words be heart words—reassuring, affirming, adoring.” The wife has to affirm her husband, even if he is not tending to her needs in bed. Feldhahn does acknowledge that some women will have a hard time responding physically, but then she frames this as being a personal issue that may need counseling rather than the far greater likelihood that he has never learned to prioritize foreplay or her pleasure. We find it problematic to tell a woman she must enjoy something without also telling her that she can expect him to make it enjoyable.
Then The Act of Marriage chimes in, “A wise and considerate woman goes out of her way to let her man know that he is a good lover and that she enjoys their relations together.” Yet it says this without saying the husband should actually be a good lover. And if she can’t feel satisfied? Then she might “consider herself unsuccessful in bed.” This language incentivizes women to fake orgasm (something 60% of women report having done) to avoid bruising their husbands’ egos instead of pushing for open and honest communication about sex. A husband’s ego is not more important than a wife’s sexual pleasure.
I even created a Fixed It for You for this!
Ladies, it’s time to put that pressure aside and speak up about sex!
Good husbands don’t want you to coddle their egos. They WANT to make you feel good in the bedroom, so they need your help.
And if he doesn’t seem interested in learning? It’s even more important that you speak up, because the longer you wait, the less likely things will ever get better, and the more likely you’ll be living with mediocre sex forever.
So let’s talk 10 tips for talking to your husband about sex:
Tips for Getting The Right Attitude about Your Sex Life First
1. Realize that asking for what you want is not selfish.
One of the biggest roadblocks for asking for what we want is that we feel like it’s selfish or mean to do so. But as I’ve been talking about repeatedly, sex is meant to be mutual, intimate, and pleasurable for both.
We have a 47 point orgasm gap in the evangelical world, where 95% of men almost always/always reach orgasm, compared with only 48% of women. That’s not okay. And if sex isn’t feeling very good, it doesn’t mean that you’re broken. It just means you haven’t figured it out yet!
2. Remember: what you put up with now is what you will be putting up with for twenty years.
What happens when you don’t speak up? He thinks he’s doing a good job, or that you’re okay with the way things are. So he keeps doing what he’s doing, thinking that you’re fine with it.
That leaves you feeling even more distant. Even if you’re trying to make him happy, the fact that he can’t even tell that you’re unhappy or that you want more makes sex feel like the most UNintimate thing in the world, because it’s like he doesn’t even know you.
He doesn’t seem to realize how lonely and sad this makes you feel, which ends up making you resent him even more.
Usually what happens with these dynamics is that women can’t do this indefinitely. As you get older and you start thinking that the best sexual years are behind you, then resentment can build and often that’s when women speak up–decades too late.
You don’t want that. Speaking up now is so much better to do!
So if things aren’t feeling good, tell him now–not twenty years in the future when he’ll be blindsided and he’ll feel so empty too, thinking that all of these great memories he has are fake.
Don’t like how he rubs your breasts, or how he touches your clitoris? Tell him! If you lie there and say nothing, he’ll think he’s doing a good job. If you moan, he’ll think you really like it! I’ve talked with so many women who have learned to moan and breathe heavily to make their husbands think they enjoy sex (because that’s what the women think they’re supposed to do), and then they start moaning even when their bodies feel terrible. And he thinks, “Oh, she really likes it when I pinch her nipples!” So he keeps pinching them, and she keeps feeling pain and says nothing but keeps moaning, and it all feeds itself.
What you put up with now is what will keep happening for the next few decades.
So if you don’t like something, speak up!
3. Set the stage and focus on the goal.
Okay, that’s getting our own perspective right. Now, how do we communicate that to him?
Focus on the goal that you have–that God made sex to be awesome for both of you, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This is the message that you want to give:
Honey, I know that God made sex to be awesome, and I want to feel incredible highs with you. I want to have great orgasms, but I also want to feel really close to you. I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but I’m very committed to getting there.
I’m shy, though, and I may need your help and encouragement to speak up and tell you what I like, or even to discover what I like. But I know that God made us to have an abundant life, and I want that for us!
Focus on the future and what you want, not on everything he’s been doing wrong.
Tips for speaking up during sex
4. Disrupt the habit
All of us get into rhythms and habits with life, and sex is no exception.
We kiss for two minutes, he starts rubbing my breasts for a minute and a half, he reaches between my legs….
If you want sex to feel differently, then you’ve got to break that habit! And the time to break it is not when intercourse is about to start, but earlier when you need to get aroused.
Maybe you insist that you start with a massage. Maybe you say, “Tonight, let’s have a bath together first and talk about our day.” Set the stage the way that you need it to feel relaxed and connected.
And then, when you do start the physical part of sex, take the lead a bit. You be the one to touch him! Or even lie on top of him, instead of on your back. Lie on your side. Do something different to disrupt how you’ve normally had sex, so that it’s easier to speak up and change how things are going.
5. Ask him to slow down and explore.
One thing we talk about a lot in the orgasm course is that all of us have a sexual response cycle, where we move from excitement to arousal to orgasm. The way we like to be touched during the arousal phase is quite different than during the excitement phase. If he goes straight for your clitoris when you’re not excited at all, it will feel off-putting.
So spend the bulk of your time just touching and exploring. In general, think of the touching and kissing part of sex as being 75% of what you’ll do, and intercourse as only 25% (and most women need to reach orgasm BEFORE intercourse starts if they’re going to at all).
If he rushes to touch your genitals or your breasts and it feels like nothing, or it feels very awkward or wrong, it’s likely that he’s doing it too early when you’re not excited yet. Ask him to slow down (and check out The Orgasm Course for more on that!)
The Orgasm Course is Here to Help You Experience Real Passion!
Figure out what's holding you back. Open the floodgates to orgasm.
6. When something feels good, tell him.
Give feedback! If something suddenly starts feeling good, THEN you moan! Loudly. Let him know. Even if you like the way he’s kissing you, tell him that, too!
7. Show him what feels good by doing it on him, or by taking his hand.
Do you know what you want him to do, but he’s not really getting it? Do it on him. If you want to be kissed a certain way, kiss him that way! If you want to be stroked a certain way, show it on him! Or else take his hand and do what you want him to do, so that he can feel the pressure, motion, etc. A lot of guys really enjoy direct teaching!
8. If something is uncomfortable, do something about it right away.
Is one foot hanging off the side of the bed and starting to go asleep, or feeling really uncomfortable? Shift right away! It’s not going to feel any better in five minutes, and it’s going to distract you and keep you from feeling good. Are you starting to get cold? Pull the sheets up right away.
Is the way he’s touching you not quite working? Say something!
If you have 10 seconds of something uncomfortable but you fix it right away, it won’t affect your arousal level. But if you notice something is uncomfortable, but you think, “I don’t want to bother him or disrupt him or make him feel bad,” it’s not going to get any better! And then you’ll have ten or twenty minutes with the uncomfortable thing, and now your arousal is all gone.
9. Work through a guide!
It’s often so much easier to be direct when you’re expressing your opinion on what someone else has said than when you have to own that opinion yourself. So,for instance, if you’re reading something like my book 31 Days to Great Sex together, and I’ve spent three pages talking about the importance of being affectionate at other times of day, it’s much easier to then tell him, “I really enjoy kissing you earlier in the day or when you send me flirty texts,” rather than having to bring it up yourself.
And when it comes to the sexy stuff? It’s so much easier to talk about how you need more for orgasm when that’s what the video is telling him–or the book! Plus it can be fun to work through something together that has lots of fun challenges. Here’s what I’ve got:
- The Great Sex Rescue: Great for setting the stage and understanding some of the negative beliefs about sex you’ve both brought into marriage.
Read it or listen to it together, and do the “check ins”. Then try the explore together exercises at the end of each chapter!
- 31 Days to Great Sex: For couples who want to focus on how to make sex feel great
Read 2-3 pages a night and do the challenge! Much more hands on than The Great Sex Rescue (excuse the pun), and builds day by day on how to feel intimate and close and have much more fun!
- The Orgasm Course: For couples who want to focus on a physical breakthrough
If you’ve had difficulty reaching orgasm, I do recommend reading The Great Sex Rescue first, because our research found that our beliefs are often the biggest roadblock. Then work through the course together to help you learn about sexual response cycles, how arousal works, and how orgasm works!
Learning to directly communicate about sex isn’t only to tell your spouse what you want or don’t want. It’s also to celebrate and learn to speak openly about what you enjoy! So when you’ve had a great memory, relive it together. When you’ve had a breakthrough, celebrate! Have code words that remind you of certain times together, and use them.
This is meant to be a beautiful part of your marriage. As you learn to communicate more directly, then it hopefully will become something that feels much more intimate!
What do you think? Why do we get into such bad habits when it comes to speaking up about what we want during sex? Let’s talk in the comments!
The Direct Communication Series
- 5 Reasons Direct Communication is Difficult
- 6 Elements of Direct Communication
- Why Direct Communication Feels Mean--and Why It's Not
- 3 Reasons Christian Resources Tell Women Direct Communication is a Sin
- 5 Reasons Christian Teaching Discourages Men from Communicating Directly
- The Direct Communication Podcast
- The Real Solution to Nagging
- 10 Tips to Talking to Your Spouse About Your Sex Life
- How to Handle a Spouse's Negative Reactions to Direct Communication (coming soon)
- 10 Tips to Having that Difficult Conversation You've Been Putting Off (coming soon)
And please see my book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, with lots on having difficult conversations and resolving conflict!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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