I hesitated to write this series of articles for several reasons. My first hesitation was because I don’t consider myself to be an expert on anything remotely sexual. To look at me you wouldn’t see a sex kitten waiting to pounce, you’d see a wrinkled blood hound napping on the front porch. My other hesitation was that after 14 years of marriage, I’m in the process of getting a divorce- sex is the last thing on my mind. Who am I to talk to anyone about what makes a good military marriage or a healthy sex life? But then I thought… maybe I’m the perfect person to discuss this topic because I’m not an expert.
I don’t know about all of you- but I’m really tired of listening to glamourous female doctors on TV or male psychiatrists/psychologists who aren’t even remotely in tune with the military life telling me how important a healthy sex life is to the well being of myself and my partner. They don’t deal with the stresses of a military life, long hours of duty, being a single parent during deployments, your spouse dealing with PTSD or moving every few years. Honestly walk a mile in my shoes and tell me what’s really important, then we can talk about sex! So for that reason alone I think I’m more than qualified to at least open up the discussion, because I hope to learn from you as much if not more than you learn from me. So ladies… and a few of you men… let’s talk about Sex as a Service Member’s Spouse!
I think the most important way to start this discussion is to talk about talking about it.
Every expert and all the research I’ve done about this subject seems to be saying the same thing. The best way to have a good sex life is to talk about it. Not dirty talk in the bedroom, not in hushed tones over a candle light dinner, but frankly and openly in a safe environment. This I think is going to be the most difficult for some of us to deal with. Here are some personal observations of the obstacles to good sex communication as I see it;
Don’t know what to say–
This is probably the most difficult obstacle to overcome for most couples. What do I say? I think the key in overcoming this obstacle is really simple. You have to ask yourself- what do I want? Knowing what you want has to be the first step in establishing clear communication. Just as in ordinary life, you can’t expect someone to give you what you want, deserve or need if you don’t even know. In my experience people who know what they want and aren’t afraid to ask for it are the most successful in life, and I would imagine in their relationships as well.
Don’t know how to say it–
This is a battle ground of communication that is mine laden simply because men and women communicate differently about sex. Guys talk about “hitting that”, “banging that”, “breaking off a piece of that”, while women are more demure in their speech we “make love to”, “sleep with”, or “cuddle with”. Even in our descriptions men consider women as “that” with violent connotations, while women include men as someone we do something gentle with. Now there are exceptions of course in this language and I’m generalizing, but I hope you can see the differences are marked. The key to knowing what to say and how to say it is knowing what language your partner speaks. If they’re comfortable with a clinical analysis, then use words like penis or vagina. If they’re more comfortable with euphemisms like stem or flower, use those terms. Again the key is knowing what you want to say and speaking their language.
Don’t want to hurt his/her feelings–
This becomes an issue when a couple’s sex life has hit a rough patch. The reasons this may happen are as varied as the couples experiencing it, but aside from physical issues, or severe mental issues, most issues can be overcome with honest conversations about sex. It stands to reason that when we have to talk about what isn’t working, we all worry about getting hurt or hurting our partner- that’s normal. However, there is a way to do this that involves delicate honesty, you don’t have to criticize to make a change happen. It can be as simple as- “Honey why don’t we try this, instead of that?” Most sexual problems occur because someone hasn’t been speaking honestly about their needs. Blaming your partner for your sexual turn offs never works. This again is about knowing what you like, what you don’t like and being very clear with your partner before you’re in the situation. Let’s face it no one wants to hear criticism during a performance, it never works… telling someone that was horrible without explaining why or how to do better for can crush anyone’s ego.
Know that when you are in a committed monogamous relationship with someone, sex is about expressing your love and affection for that person. If you know that person is doing or saying something that upsets you, not telling them is not going to help them or you, in fact it’s going to end up hurting your relationship outside of the bedroom as well. Honest communication is the best policy. I was surprised to learn that most couples who regularly and openly talk about their sex lives have longer and happier marriages than couples who don’t. So come on ladies and gentlemen… let’s start talking honestly about sex!