Jill: “Sex….I could go the rest of my life without it!” That was my sentiment early in our marriage. I was tired and just couldn’t muster the energy that lovemaking required.
Mark: To say that Jill and I have been on opposite ends of the “desire” spectrum would be an understatement. This was particularly evident when the kids were small.
Jill: We came the closest to having nearly the same desire when we were in our 40’s. With the kids older, it seemed we had finally found a nice middle ground that worked for both of us.
Mark: Then breast cancer hit, throwing Jill into early menopause. Dealing with lower estrogen levels, vaginal dryness, side-effects of medication, and all of the joys of both of our aging bodies has now moved us into the arena of sexual challenges again.
Jill: Throughout marriage, most of us slip beneath the sheets without much conversation. Our bodies do what they are supposed to do as we explore sexual intimacy.
Mark: But what happens when things aren’t going so well? Many of us aren’t comfortable talking about sex so we push our challenges under the rug, find ourselves frustrated, and become discouraged.
Jill: If we don’t address the frustration, we run the risk of building a wall and putting emotional and physical distance between ourselves and our spouse.
Mark: So how do we keep this from happening and what do we do if it is happening? We talk about it.
Jill: That’s right…we have to push ourselves to become comfortable talking about sex both inside and outside the bedroom. If you’re not used to talking about sex, IT WILL FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE. But here’s what we have learned: you’ve got to push through awkward to get to a new normal. If you start talking about sex, those initial conversations will be difficult, but the more conversations you have, the more “normal” it will become to talk about intimacy.
With that in mind, we want to share some conversation starters to get those conversations going about sex:
- What do you like best about our sex life?
- What do you wish was different in our sex life?
- Is there something I do sexually that bothers you?
- Is there something I do sexually that you really like?
- Ideally, how often would you like us to make love?
- Foreplay….is it too long, too short, or just right for you?
- What happens outside the bedroom in our relationship that hurts our intimacy inside the bedroom?
- Do I make you feel special outside the bedroom?
- When it comes to communication, what do you wish we talked about more?
- Do you feel emotionally safe with me? If not, what could I do to help you feel safe?
- Is there anything either one of us needs to talk to a doctor about that would improve our sex life (erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse, depression, unusually low desire, etc)?
- Is there any emotional or sexual baggage from your past or any struggles today that are keeping you from fully enjoying sex (pornography, previous relationships, guilt, shame, etc)
- Is there something in our marriage relationship that we can’t seem to improve or get past? What counselor could we begin seeing to sort through this?
Mark: These questions get us talking about the things we don’t usually talk about. As you talk through them, make sure you’re being a good listener and are listening to understand, not to argue. Here are some helpful responses to help the conversation go well:
- That’s good to know…thank you for sharing that.
- Okay that’s helpful. Tell me more.
- I didn’t know that. Thank you for letting me know.
- I know that was probably hard to share. Thank you for trusting me.
Talking (about anything!) always builds non-sexual intimacy. Talking about sex will build both non-sexual intimacy and sexual intimacy. Don’t let a lack of communication keep you from taking your physical relationship to the next level!
Looking for more practical ideas about moving from making meatloaf to making love? Hearts at Home just re-released Is There Really Sex After Kids? as an ebook!
Jill wrote this book for moms, but I think the best part is the “cliff notes” version of the chapter I wrote for dads! Yep, mom reads her 7 pages and dad reads his 7 paragraphs and voila….you’ve read the book together! You’re welcome, guys.