How to Talk About Sex

Intimacy Issues Can Be Awkward

Has it been awkward to talk about sex with couples? I know it was for us.

First, let me say that we aren’t shy. We don’t have a problem talking about sex with each other or talking about sex with other couples. We can be very open.

While we can be open, we’ve had this experience: We get to the topic of sex and we ask the couple about it. We’ve tried asking a very broad question like, “How’s your sex life?”

They get very quiet and they don’t know what to say. It’s awkward.

This experience happened to us a number of times. We started to offer specific topics to talk about. That seems to open up the conversation.

Some marriage mentors are uncomfortable talking about sex. Below are four topics that will help to ease the awkwardness.

Topic #1: Satisfaction With Sex

Are you satisfied with your sex life? Are you happy with your intimacy in marriage?

A majority of the distressed couples that we meet with say they aren’t satisfied. Let me correct that. A majority of the people that we meet with say they aren’t satisfied. Often, one person is satisfied and the other person is not.

This question can lead into deeper issues that cause someone to be dissatisfied.

I was nervous when we first started talking about this. I thought it would get into the actual physical aspects of sex. What if they talked about sex positions or something? I didn’t want to go there.

It is usually about something else: timing, frequency, kids, romance, communication, conflict management, etc.

When it is about something physical, I usually ask them about their ability to talk to each other about what they like or dislike. I can’t tell someone what feels good to them. That’s up for them to express that to their partner.

Topic #2: God Wants Married Couples to Have Mind-Blowing Sex

The world has a mixed view of sex. Our culture has done a great job of perverting sex. Pornography, TV, sexual abuse and sexual addiction has turned sex into something that it isn’t.

I’m not sure our churches are very effective at teaching healthy and Godly sexuality.

About 40% of the people we meet with have a difficult time seeing sex as something that is pure and holy. When you come into marriage with those beliefs, it can cause problems in the relationship.

For example, if you believe that sex is dirty, sex will be difficult for you.

We talk about how each of them view sex. Is it something holy and pleasing to God? Are there other viewpoints that cause you to view sex as something else?

Topic #3: Talking About Sex

The majority of the people that we meet with don’t find it easy to talk to their spouse about sex.

There are some cultural issues with the topic of sex, but sexual intimacy is often about other things. Things like their general connectedness, communication or conflict management.

Some people, particularly in a distressed marriage, will bring up sex in the very first session. They identify this as an issue between them. We will ask them about what they want to achieve and set it as a relationship goal. Honestly though, they often need to work on general communication before they get to the physical part of their relationship.

Topic #4: Mismatched Desire

Issues with sex often are brought to light because one person wants sex and other one doesn’t.

The reasons why can be complex. Again, it can be about underlying beliefs, relationship connection or physical issues.

This mismatch can result in someone feeling pressured and someone else feeling rejected. When the couple doesn’t have good conflict management skills, this issue creates a pattern. That pattern can result in disconnection.

We talk about mismatched desire. We’ll ask about rejection or pressure. How do they resolve it when they don’t want to have sex?

I hope that these four topics will give greater confidence when you talk about sex and take away some of the awkwardness.

Sex can be complex and it’s tough to cover in a brief blog. We do cover these and more topics in our online material.

Tips for Marriage Mentors:

  • Satisfaction with Physical Relationship – Ask if they are satisfied with their physical relationship. That question can lead to more questions about problem areas. (I tend not to ask this question in a group setting).
  • Sex as Something Pure and Holy? This question can help to uncover misconceptions or beliefs that might be causing issues.
  • Talking About Sex With Each Other – We will talk to them about their ability to speak to each other about sex. Even talking about how they can talk more to each other can be helpful.
  • Mismatched Desire – We ask if mismatched desire creates conflict. Are you feeling pressured? Are you feeling rejected? What happens when you do?