Married and Unsatisfied: Is it too late to talk about sex?

Tomorrow morning I have a post queued about the book The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. In the midst of finishing this book up, I wanted to pop up one post ahead of time regarding some problematic language.

Though the book itself has a lot of good ideas, the language used in the book can be a struggle for me to read. A lot of it reinforces ideas of men do this, women do this, even as it actively tries to tell the reader that gender doesn’t necessarily matter.

The chapter I just finished is the most problematic. “You mean we have to work at sex?” Chapter Seven.

For context, here are two quotes within a page of one another:

Our maleness and femaleness is a righteous idea. There is nothing dirty about our sexual organs. They are exactly as God intended them to be. 

Okay, that’s not so bad. Even within religion he is saying that sex is good. Then, the cliff breaks, and we fall into despair.

Clearly, many couples, particularly in the early years of marriage, need to deal with the baggage of past experience. The commonly held idea is that sexual experience before marriage better prepares you for marriage. Research indicates otherwise. n fact, the divorce rate among those who have had previous sexual experience is higher than those who have had no sexual experience before marriage. The reality is that previous sexual experience often becomes a psychological barrier in achieving sexual oneness in marriage.

That’s right. If you’ve had sex before marriage your sexual dissatisfaction may actually be a productive of fucking around.

Nevermind the huge confounds here. If you were a Christian and had previously had intercourse, perhaps you had done it in a first marriage. Then, you had gotten married for a second time, and had intercourse again. Given the statistics that most second marriages are more likely to fail than the first, how exactly (and why exactly) is sex the guilty party here?

But the chapter goes on – some partners go years without experiencing pleasure in their relationships. They don’t learn to communicate about sex. And to me, this is the real secret of sexual pleasure. Not how many people you’ve had sex with. But how openly and honestly you are able to communicate your needs.

People enter into sex from all kinds of different places. Their first time, their 500th time, a history of abuse, a broken heart. Communication takes us from a place of not knowing to a place of knowing.

But what does it mean to communicate, and more importantly, if  you are figuring out years into your relationship that you need to communicate, is it too late?

Believing it is too late to communicate to good sex can be a key reason people don’t reach out to improve their sex lives. Particularly for couples who feel pleasure is taboo, or don’t believe that they can achieve pleasure.

I can’t believe that having previous sexual partners discredits your pleasure or presents inherent psychological barriers. It’s absurd to believe that such a large percentage of the population is out there feeling bad about themselves for enjoying their bodies. The thing thats making them feel badly about themselves are people who stand on the corners and say “you should feel bad about yourself.” (In this case, it would be the pressures of anti-sex religious non-sense, which is thankfully not the entirety of religion.)

If you feel that you have waited too long to communicate, especially if you:

1. Actively experience disinterest in something you and your partner do

2. Have never achieved an orgasm with your partner

3. Deeply desire to have a more pleasurable sexual connection with your partner

Try this:

Sit with your partner and, separately, write out three lists.

The first list: Five things you enjoy

This could be things you already get enough of or things you’d like to do more of. (You can make the distinction if you feel comfortable.) This could be anything.

“I like how long we have sex. The sessions are a good amount of time.”

“I like when you go down on me and do that thing with your hand.”

The second list: Things that you would like to try

This list is arguably harder than the next list. To confess things you would like to try puts you out there. You must make it clear that this is a safe and open space where all ideas are welcome.

The third list:  Things that you’d like to do less (or not at all!)

The intent of this list is not to say “I hate these things! I’ve just never gotten a chance to say so!” It’s an opportunity to move away from things that just don’t do it for you and move towards the previous two lists. Again, if you feel comfortable you can differentiate between things you’d like to do less or not at all. Ideally couples would be open and honest about things they were not interested in doing from the very beginning.

Now compare your lists. Find spaces in list two where you can explore together. Work on including more from list one. And talk in depth about list three. Make these conversations a regular part of your intimate space.

As you learn to more freely speak about the things you like and don’t like, begin to communicate during sex. Tell your partner to move their hand, or slow down, or speed up, or to change positions. If you can feel you would like a certain kind of stimulation, ask for that, or stimulate yourself.

If you aren’t accustomed to talking about sexuality there may be a little blinking red light going off. What if you don’t know how to get yourself off, and what if you don’t know how to talk about anatomy? Getting to understand ones body and learning more about sex and sexuality can help you so much in passing along knowledge to your partner. Asking questions and reading books can help you communicate better and more clearly what your needs are.

We all have different beliefs when it comes to sex. Some people wait until marriage. Some people don’t have sex at all. What is important is not falling into ideas of sex-negativity that are beautifully dressed up as sex-positivity. The sex drive is NOT necessarily more emotional for women than men! (P. 102, ungghhhh.) Sometimes women want to get off, too! Sometimes women are visual beings, too! We are all unique. We all have needs. We ALL have preferences!

Communicating about sex is good, and we should do it all along, but some people don’t. And it doesn’t mean that it’s too late for you. There is always time to open up that dialogue and to work towards a healthier and happier sexuality. Whatever that means for you.

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