Many spouses need to have a conversation about sex with their mates. They are not satisfied with the sexual intimacy in their marriage, and they see issues that need addressing, problems that need solving, holes in their heart that need filling.
Whatever the concern, it’s imperative that they start a conversation about sex. But all too often, such discussions devolve into frustration, contention, and stalemate. What’s keep you from making progress?
1. Making yourself heard. You’re hurt by your spouse’s actions regarding marital intimacy, whether it’s insisting on activities you don’t want to do, resisting sex altogether, or whatever. You are sure that if only they understood how you feel, they would adjust their thinking and things would go more smoothly.
So you start the conversation, explain your thoughts and feelings, present information, argue your points, persuade, plead, beg, cry. Whatever it takes, you’re willing to do it, if only your spouse will listen to you.
Guess what? You’re making that conversation all about you and your feelings. Yes, you and your feelings matter! They matter a great deal. But so do your spouse’s.
Instead, try to ask questions and listen. Find out why they are resisting your viewpoint. What is in the way of them engaging more intimately or giving up porn or whatever you’re dealing with? Show real concern for your spouse’s feelings and give them a safe place to talk about what they are facing.
By doing so, you open up more conversation, gain insight you need to combat the problems, and show genuine care for your spouse. You might be surprised by what you discover if you’ll make the goal letting your spouse be heard and responding to them in love.
2. Keeping score. “You never…!” “You always…!”
We married people are excellent at keeping score. Especially if you’re unhappy in a specific area like sex. The rejected spouse knows exactly how many days it’s been since the last sex encounter or how many times she initiated and was shot down in the last week. The put-upon spouse knows how many times she’s been hit up for sex with no prior warning, romance, or affection. We don’t have to intentionally keep score; we have to intentionally stop keeping score.
Starting a conversation with a litany of your spouse’s failures is sure to end badly. Would you want to hear about everything you’re doing wrong? Then why do you think your spouse would respond to that?
Instead, talk about what you want. Instead of dwelling in real and perceived hurts, paint a picture of what your sexual intimacy could be like. Refer back to what it has been in the past, or what you imagine for the future, or — the best option! — the way God designed sexual intimacy in marriage. Speak of terms of the pleasure, connection, and closeness you desire to have as a couple; what your vision of sexual intimacy would mean to you, to your spouse, and to the relationship; and how a change in your sexual intimacy would honor God and keep your marriage strong.
Show how a new approach to sexual intimacy would be a beautiful thing for both of you — an ideal worth pursuing.
3. Blaming your spouse. If only he would… If only she would… Plenty of us believe that if our spouse would change, our problems would resolve.
Frankly, sometimes that’s true. Maybe your sexual problems really are the result of your spouse’s selfishness, sexual history, inability to deal with past abuse, or hormonal issues. Whatever it is, it could very well be that your spouse is a bigger part of the problem than you are.
But so what? You’re married. One flesh and all that. If you view your spouse as the enemy, you’re a divided team, and divided teams don’t win.If you view your spouse as the enemy, you're a divided team, and divided teams don't win. Click To Tweet
Instead, make it a WE problem. One of the great perks of marriage is having someone on your team to support you and help you through tough times. Be your spouse’s biggest ally! Whatever the issue may be, it’s a we issue now — one you can tackle together. Remember Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”
Don’t let your spouse fall alone. Reach out and help! Be stronger together. “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (v. 12). Together, and with the third cord of God on your side, you can conquer almost anything!
Ask your spouse what you can do to help, and address your sexual intimacy issues as a we thing. “We can build wonderful sexual intimacy, and we can get through this together.”
For more tips on talking to your spouse about sexual problems in your marriage, see How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse.
What difficulties have you experienced talking to your spouse about sexual issues? What has worked for you?