Whether you’ve always had trouble talking about sex with your partner, or it’s something that you can only open up a certain amount about, there are ways to talk to your partner about sex and get more intimacy back into your relationship, says Cate Campbell, author of the Relate Guide to Sex and Intimacy.
1. Make an ‘I want- I will’ book
If you’re a couple that finds it impossible to talk about sex, or to talk about feelings full stop, then this may be the best option for you. Get an exercise book and on one page write requests to your partner, while the opposite page is dedicated to responses of the requests. The most important thing is that the response must begin with the words ‘I will’ to show positivity in the response.
Get an exercise book and on one page write requests to your partner, while the opposite page is dedicated to responses of the requests.
For example, the response could simply be ‘I will think about that’ or ‘I will discuss that with you tonight’ which shows a sense of communication rather than rejection that can hurt your partner’s feelings. It is important that you both fully engage with the process so that you both voice your feelings equally. By placing the book somewhere that is easy for you both to look at and checking it daily, you can ensure that you are both voicing how you think your relationship is going. It is an easy way to bring up concerns and make sure these are talked through rather than ignored.
2. Be appreciative of your partner
Try to think of something that your partner has done that you liked, and make sure you tell them. These can be the smallest things, for example, ‘I love when you make me dinner’ or ‘I appreciated you supporting me over the pocket money issue’. By showing your partner that you appreciate things they have done for you can help bring you closer and spark intimacy.
3. Try to start statements using the word ‘I’ rather than ‘you’
By starting a sentence with ‘you’, it can make what you’re about to say sound instantly blaming. If there is something you wish to discuss which you are unhappy about, try not to be too reproachful. For example, if you say ‘I always feel a bit upset when you don’t call or text me back’ rather than ‘you don’t call or text me back’, you are more likely to prevent an argument from starting because you are using a less provoking manner.
Reminiscing can be a great way to restore your sense of sexual connection. It can be great to remind one another of some of your early meetings and what attracted you to each other in the first place. This can be fun to do with your children so that they are included in the positive stories of how your relationship began. When it’s just the two of you alone together, you can reminisce about your early sexual memories and take delight in these. You could even see if there is anything you could, or would want to, realistically reincorporate into your current lovemaking.
It can be great to remind one another of some of your early meetings and what attracted you to each other in the first place.
5. Talk about how to say no to sex
Many people find the most difficult form of communication is saying no to sex. This is often not handled well due to embarrassment on both sides. If you have a conversation about how to both deal with the other saying no to sex before it occurs, then you prevent tension. For example, if you offer or accept refusal with a hug and small explanation rather than a metaphorical push, this stops this from becoming a awkward situation in the future.
6. Understand silence together
Think about how you deal with silence in your relationship. Do you see it as a bad thing, an ‘awkward silence’ or is it something you consider natural and shows you’re comfortable together? We often draw conclusions from silences and react to them without checking out what they really mean. Make sure you both feel the same about silences and when they occur, perhaps ask your partner what they think they mean. It can be useful in revealing what ways you agree and differ in your understanding of silences and whether this surprises either of you. Silences can affect your mood and understanding without you even realizing and it is easy for misunderstandings to occur when one of you is more comfortable with silence than the other. By talking this through, you can gain valuable information to help you communicate better.
We often draw conclusions from silences and react to them without checking out what they really mean.
7. Pick the right time to talk
If there’s something you want to discuss, pick the right moment for it. If necessary, plan the conversation for a time when you will both be unhurried and know what to expect rather than blurting it out and catching your partner off guard.
8. Be direct
Headline statements are much more useful and effective than sideways approaches, which can be misunderstood. Think about what you want to say and just say it. For example, saying ‘I would like us to go to my sister’s party on Saturday’ rather than ‘What were you thinking of doing on Saturday?’ lets your partner know what you really want rather than making it a long guessing game.
9. End on time
When discussing an issue with your partner, do not allow the conversation to drag on. The optimum time for a conversation is just under 20 minutes, so finish well within half an hour as by allowing the discussion to continue for hours can result in frustration and lead nothing to get resolved. If need be, schedule another conversation if the issue remains unresolved in the allotted time.
10. Have date night
Date nights are a great way for couples to focus on their relationship away from the pressures of work and family. However, the important thing about date night is not to have unrealistic expectations. They should be treated as relaxing nights off. There are ways you can ensure that your date night is all you want it to be. For example:
Make sure you plan the night carefully. Do not leave booking reservations to the last minute and make sure you know which of you is in charge of this. A good way to do organize this is to agree to taking turns on planning date night so that neither of you make the assumption that the other person has arranged it. The person organizing should be in charge of every aspect including arranging a babysitter well in advance. This will help the night to runyourselves enough time– make sure you tell one another in advance what time you expect the evening to end, for example if you know you have an early start the next day, make sure your partner is aware so that neither of you end up feeling disappointed when the evening ends.
Stick to date conversation– if something is bothering you, try to discuss it before the evening out, so that any problems are dealt with and you are not tempted to spoil the night by talking about them. Date night is strictly for fun and enjoyment purposes, so make sure the conversation reflects this. Do not discuss work, children, or the new extension you’ve been thinking about. Find something interesting and different to talk about to keep things exciting.
Date night is strictly for fun and enjoyment purposes, so make sure the conversation reflects this.
Finish the evening with a kiss– do not assume that the evening will end with sex, as the chances are it will spoil the whole night if it doesn’t. If this is expected, one of you could be left disappointed if the other is too tired or has drunk too much. Instead, agree that the night will end with a kiss and a cuddle in bed. If this develops into more then great, just don’t expect it to. This way, you are less likely to be disappointed if sex does not happen but are still able to end the night on a positive note, achieving a sense of intimacy with your partner before bed.
11. Avoid distractions
When you do have sex, make sure it is treated as special to you both. Turn off your phone and keep any pets out of the room. Nothing is more distracted than a dog jumping up on the bed or a cat whining for attention. By preventing these distractions from taking place, you can focus solely on your lovemaking.