Research has shown that women who read my book, A Tired Woman's Guide to Passionate Sex, increase their sexual desire by 60% and their level of sexual arousal by about 40%. A Tired Woman's Guide to Passionate Sex provides a six-step treatment, "Five T's and a Bit of Spice." In my previous blog, I discussed the pinnacle T-step: Trysts. This blog presents the couple foundational step: Talk.
Sexual communication is an outgrowth of general communication. First, you have to learn to communicate effectively and then you can apply these skills to sexual communication. Couples benefit from learning to talk about sex as they would any other topic. It would be unthinkable to tell our partners that talking about parenting makes us uncomfortable and have this be accepted as a legitimate reason to shut off discussion. Below are some tips, culled from my book, to help you communicate more effectively, both generally and about sex specifically.
• Stop Expecting Mind Reading. Give up the myth that your partner can mind-read your desires, sexual or otherwise. Instead, learn to express your thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants.
• Start Your Sentences with the Word "I." Explain your needs and wants with "I" statements. Say "I think it would help me get turned on if you..." rather than "You don't know how to turn me on."
• Don't ask Questions that Aren't. Asking a question that isn't a question is something people do, consciously or unconsciously, to avoid owning their needs head-on. Think about the question, "Do you feel like having sex tonight?" This non-question can have many possible meanings. It could mean, "I don't want to have sex tonight and hope you don't either" or it could mean "I am in the mood and hope you are too." Questions that aren't questions lead to misunderstandings.
• Talk About Sex at the Kitchen Table. Don't bring up sexual dissatisfaction in bed. This can create a negative association to a place that you want to be exciting and positive. Instead, have serious sex talks in a safe, non-sexual place such at the kitchen table. Also, make sure that the timing is right; having such discussions when tight on time or exhausted is likely to be unproductive.
• Give Verbal and Nonverbal Instructions. During a sexual encounter, say "move your hand here or there" or provide specific instructions or requests ("softer please"). You can also communicate your desires by guiding your partner's hands the way you want them to go.
• Compliment with Moans and Verbal Utterances. Often people moan during sex. These sounds, along with heavy breathing, are a way to tell our partners what we like. Actual verbal utterances made during sex can also be used to give positive feedback. Telling your partner "That feels good" will reinforce what he or she is doing. There's also an extra benefit: Research shows that making sounds increases the excitement of the person making them.
• Review the Experience. Often, couples with great sex lives appraise their encounters, including what worked well and what could have gone better. One couple I know rates each encounter on a one to ten scale. Sometimes, they revel in their high scoring accomplishment. Other times, they use the ratings as a starting point for a discussion of what would have made it a better encounter. They expect to sometimes have disparate ratings; this is simply material for non-defensive and open discussion.
Research consistently finds that sexual communication enhances sexual satisfaction. People who disclose more about their sexual likes and dislikes to their partner report greater sexual well-being. Communication is the bedrock to make your bed rock!