Let’s talk about Sex
Deployment/PCS Homefront Mental Health/Wellness Relationships

Let’s talk about Sex

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!

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5 thoughts on “Let’s talk about Sex”

  1. Very, very true! Without discussing my sex life with my husband, here in this tiny comment box too much, I will say this, that communication about sex changes EVERYTHING.

    I have learned that women and men view sex in a completely different way. While yes, women want sex, men NEED sex. To them it’s their way of knowing they’re still loved. Like how getting acknowledgment, complements and affection every once and a while is how us women know we are loved. So to have that conversation with my husband I learned what it is that is needed from me, and in turn I let him know what I needed from him. Communication is definitely key.

    Great post! Look forward to reading more.

    1. So my hubby and I are exactly the opposite of the typical stereotype. I need sex on a regular basis – It’s a stress release (I’m a tense and angry girl without it) and the way I communicate best to him that I adore him. I’m a very physical person, visually oriented. Touch is my ‘love language’. His ‘love language’ is the giving and receiving of gifts. He could wander through life barely noticing sex exists, needing it rarely. He uses flowery words, and flowers, to express his love to me, which is awesome, but not nearly as satisfying to me as a good tumble. Haha Right now we’re dealing with the fact that he came home from deployment with a low testosterone reading. As if things weren’t difficult enough. Now he doesn’t want sex at all. And it’s not just an ‘In his head PTSD stress thing’. It’s physical. We’re working on that, with his doctor, but it’s so difficult. I struggle daily and nightly with patience. At least this has forced us both to confront sex directly and honestly. I think we’re both past the cringe phase. Been married for 7 years, still crazy about each other, and we’ll get through this rough spot like we’ve gotten through so many others.

      1. Beth, please know you’re not alone. Like you, I deeply desire sex. I need sex on a regular basis. My husband, like yours, couldn’t care less about the physical act. Rather than gifts, he’s a “good deed” guy. He’d much rather do little things for me than touch me. I find it most difficult that everyone always assumes it’s the woman who doesn’t want sex and that all men are always ready. We’ve been married a lot longer than you and, so far, the sex becomes less and less every year. I hope we can survive it.

  2. Only if you have complete trust and honesty will it work. If there is no fear that something will be used against you at some point then you will be more likely to be comfortable with ANY conversation, not just sex.

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