Are you and your partner arguing about sexual issues in your Are you and your partner arguing about sexual issues in your

Seven Steps for Talking Your Way to a Better Sex Life

A couple lays in bed, talking.Are you and your partner arguing about sexual issues in your relationship? Is there an ongoing issue that keeps coming up in the process, making your sex life rockier, or worse, non-existent?

Disagreements about sex are common in relationships. We also often lack necessary skills when it comes to talking about sex, due to a lot of the myths we have likely been raised with, such as, “Sex should be natural and spontaneous. It’s not natural to talk about sex,” or “Sex is bad/dirty,” or “Talking about sex takes the romance and mystery out of it.” We feel scared, unprepared, and awkward, and the outcome is often avoidance or defensiveness.

Variations about sexual wants and desires are common. The main key is to learn to talk about these issues in a way that is not angry and defensive, but supportive and positive, so that couples can get past whatever issues are plaguing their relationship and sex life and start enjoying not just sex again, but each other.

First, let me dispel the myths for you. Our lovely media industries would have you believe that great sex just happens naturally. I am here to tell you that great sex can happen with communication and cooperation. We are not mind readers, nor are all women the same. In actuality, as sexual beings, our expressions of and needs for sex are as individual and unique as we are. If everyone is unique, how can anyone possibly know what to do all the time? Via communication, of course! But how you communicate is the secret to a great relationship.

The key to a great sex life starts with a sweet word. Arguments, defensiveness, and avoidance, whether it is about sex or not, sends a message to our partner that we are not interested in their well-being, and that we are only interested in protecting our feelings. It’s one-sided and it’s not genuine.

So, here are the seven steps I recommend to start talking your way to a better relationship and sex life today. Whether the conversation is about sex or about who is going to do the dishes is not important; it’s how you say it that really matters.

  1. Learn to calm and relax yourself. If a conversation is making you angry, anxious, or frustrated, learning to self-soothe is key. If you respond from an angry place, or if you are anxious, nervous, or scared, you are likely to say things you don’t mean, things that are hurtful, point blame, and/or criticize. Practice breathing. Take long deep breaths and count to 10. Go outside for some fresh air. It’s okay to say, “I will be right back, I need a break.” Practice breathing often, not just during a heated conversation, but while driving, while at your desk, even while relaxing. Breathing is at the core of becoming calm. And the absolute best time to talk is when you are calm.
  2. Be nonjudgmental. Shut your critical and emotional mind off and really listen to what your partner is saying. Empathize by putting yourself in your partner shoes, if you need to.
  3. Use positive “I” language. This is also about remembering to avoid blaming, pointing the finger, criticizing, and judging. Instead say things about your feelings. For example, instead of saying, “You don’t even try to please me,” try this: “I really feel unsatisfied with our lovemaking these days.” Focus on using “I feel” and avoid using “you” in the sentence.
  4. Employ active listening skills: Summarize, paraphrase, or repeat what your partner has said. This is an easy way to let your partner know you have heard them and can, often, diffuse an angry situation. If your partner says, “I am angry and sexually frustrated these days, and you don’t seem to care about sex.” Instead of responding defensively, which might be your inkling, this is a great opportunity for you to make the conversation productive. You can respond by saying, “It sounds like you are feeling dissatisfied with our sex life. Perhaps we could find a solution.”
  5. Touch while talking. Holding your partner’s hand or putting your hand on his/her knee can remind you and your partner that you are on his/her side, and that you two are in this together. It promotes intimacy.
  6. Provide compliments. Compliments are a big part of positive talk. It’s important for our partners to feel recognized, and appreciated. I recommend a minimum of three compliments a day.  The best way to catch a bee is with sugar.
  7. Avoid blaming language and certain behaviors, such as:
  • Words like “should” or “need to,” sound like you know more than your partner, are judging their actions, and are giving advice. These types of statements can lead to feelings of resentment and power struggle. The key is to maintain balance in the relationship.
  • “Why” questions, such as “Why does it take you so long to orgasm?,” or “Why don’t you ever initiate?” Instead try, “I would love it if we could take turns initiating.” Practice using questions that start with “what,” “who,” “when,” “where,” and “how,” for example “What would you like me to do to you?”
  • Talking right after sex. Instead, find a quiet time when you are not rushed or too angry to have a calm talk about each others needs.
  • Absolute statements, such as “never” and “always.” For example, “I never have an orgasm with you.” This may be true, but it creates defensiveness. Many of these statements are exaggerations. Instead try, “I would like to find a way for us to achieve orgasm together.”

The thing to remember is to be positive, supportive, and nonjudgmental. If this doesn’t work it’s a good idea to contact a relationship therapist or sex therapist to help guide you on your way.

© Copyright 2011 by Mou Wilson. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Isabelle

    September 29th, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    whew! This feels like a lot of work for sex! And when did sex become about work? I mean, I always thought that if it was right it would feel right and just happen. I kind of think that if there are this many conversation points that have to be hit on in your sex life, then maybe you should rethink the partner that you are with.

  • Marco Kunze

    September 29th, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    I’ve grown up with the idea that there are three things you NEVER talk about, and those are sex, religion and politics. So when my gf (now my wife) would talk about sex I found myself rather uncomfortable and eager to change the subject. The idea that my gf was so open and willing to talk about sex was strange to me.

    My wife being so open about sex forced me to to be open too, something I never did before. At first I found it really awkward but I became used to it overtime. Let me tell you that I am very glad that I did because by communicating your sex will improve a million percent!

  • LOU

    September 29th, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    Talking about sex is not everyone’s cup of coffee.So Anyone struggling with the same should try and start subtly and gradually move on to talking openly with ones partner.I’ve been there and have worked my way up with talking about sex.It was not easy but a very important and beneficial thing to develop!

  • Fayth

    September 30th, 2011 at 4:19 AM

    It is so hard to talk about these things sometimes, even when you have been married for a long time.
    One partner wants one thing and the other wants something else but neither can find a way to talk about it.
    Really what a lot of these sexual problems say to me is that there might not necessarily be a problem with the sex in the marriage, but maybe a problem with the communication between the partners.
    The bedroom might just be the place where it shows itself to be a problem.

  • molly

    September 30th, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    I have known a couple who drifted apart mainly because their sex life was lacking and neither of them gave a shot at talking about it. Still feel like simple talking could have saved their relationship.

  • L. Marshall

    September 30th, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    I agree that not talking right after sex is a good idea. Emotions run high during it and immediately afterward. You can easily say something out of frustration or anger in the heat of the moment you don’t really mean.

    Wait until the cold light of day and when you’ve both got the time and willingness to discuss it.

  • Moushumi Ghose

    October 18th, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    Isabelle, I agree that sometimes with people the communication just flows and it’s easy and so much work should not have to be put in, but unfortunately sometimes life has a way of throwing sharp turns at us and this can cause the best relationships to shift. These are tools to rebuild sometimes things that get lost in the shuffle.

  • D.T.Vedanayagam

    January 26th, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    This is useful. Thanks much

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