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In my marriage, I have been very guarded about sex–even talking about it. I just didn’t want to…at all! I especially didn’t want my husband to get any ideas that I was interested in doing anything, if we did talk about it. I found that I couldn’t even talk about anything that made him feel close to me, or he’d want to have sex. Something’s been different lately, though. My husband seems to have taken to heart the counsel to pull back on trying to “fix me” sexually. He has willingly agreed to not push for sex, while I work through some of my issues. It now feels safe for me to talk to him again, because I know it won’t lead to sex.
It’s quite strange, actually, to be able to talk with him now. He feels like a friend again. I feel like I have choices, instead of just shutting down. We’ve been doing some of the exercise you gave us where we share some of our thoughts and feelings with each other. It’s actually been nice. He listens. It’s strange. He’s seems interested, with no sexual expectations. Every time we talk now, it builds my trust in him. I feel safer with him now. There might be hope for us after all.
Communication has many important purposes in marriage. It is a vital component of both marital and sexual satisfaction.[i] [ii] Conversation is not only necessary for couples to be able to resolve problems well, but it’s also the primary fuel for emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy is the primary fuel for a woman to want to be sexually intimate with her spouse.
A huge part of lighting a woman’s fire intimately is being “talked” into it. This means feeling connected enough through verbal conversation to want to get closer intimately. In the client story above, sometimes past abuse or other negative sexual experiences can make a woman avoid intimate communication, or anything else that might lead to sex. If communication is that restricted, it is probably a good time to get professional help.
Talking to Connect
One of our primary purposes for talk is “Talking to Connect.” Connecting conversation is the kind of talk that happens throughout the day and at the dinner table. It’s what happens during pillow talk at night, or on date night. Both husband and wife need to be able to express their thoughts, feelings, and opinions with each other openly and honestly. Each must truly feel heard.
This “verbal intimacy” includes self-disclosure and honesty. It requires letting yourself be vulnerable. It requires accepting your spouse’s vulnerability and tending it carefully. Trusting and being trusted by your spouse with your innermost thoughts and feelings can be incredibly bonding and intimate. It’s letting yourself be truly known–inside and out. To know your spouse means to know their heart, mind, and soul. Communication is a profound way to truly know and be known–to see and be seen. It’s that emotional nakedness that bonds us so completely that it makes physical nakedness so much easier, richer and more rewarding.
Sometimes husbands and wives see communication differently. Men tend to view communication primarily as a way to resolve a problem. Women may simply be interested in talking as a way to share and connect emotionally or explain their thoughts. For husbands to connect well with their wives, they need to listen to understand rather than to fix. When a woman feels heard and connected she is more likely to have the intimate motivation to make the conscious decision to respond sexually.
Talking to Close Mental Windows
As couples move toward lovemaking, talking to close one’s “mental windows” because paramount. Because women are like the World Wide Web with multiple windows open in their minds at all times, closing those mental windows, and directing her focus to her spouse and connecting intimately can be a real struggle. It may even be one of their biggest difficulties, particularly in the initial stages of lovemaking.
Talking to minimize one’s mental windows requires an understanding by both husband and wife; both must know that such a step is even needed to help prepare her for more engaged and enthusiastic lovemaking. It requires a willingness to attend to where her mind is first, before diving right into the physical dimension. She often needs help if her heart and mind aren’t there yet. Women can learn to do this on their own, as a developed mental discipline, but it sure can’t hurt if husbands will help.
One of the best tools for helping women clear their mental plates, and channel their many varied thought processes, is for them to be able to talk things out. Sometimes they simply need to vent. This helps women be able to shift their focus from their immediate or more pressing concerns, over to the sexual dimension.
Talking together in this way helps to fuel female sexual desire. As long as her mind is spinning with a wide variety of distracting thoughts, it will be hard for her to tune into her sensual side. Husbands can help their wives by talking with them in a way that helps them slow down their minds and clear off their mental plates.
One exercise that can help is the “Stress List.” Whether “outside the bedroom” still, or after lovemaking has been agreed upon, it can be helpful for a woman to be able to verbally walk through a list of things that are currently stressing her. You might think of this as a way for her to verbalize all the items on her mental to do list.
The simple act of verbalizing these things helps to dissolve them. This allows her to shift her focus to more intimate activities. The sentence stem for these statements might be: “I feel stressed/ frustrated/ angry/ annoyed/ worried about…” or “I am stressing over…” etc.
Talking to connect and talking to close mental windows are just two of the many valuable purposes of “Talk” in creating a “sextraordinary” marriage. I encourage couples to see that they are making time for connecting through conversation throughout the day and as a part of lovemaking. This makes it easier and more organic for them to connect sexually.
For help with improving this aspect of marital intimacy and many others read Knowing HER Intimately: 12 Keys for Creating a Sextraordinary Marriage by Laura M. Brotherson. This article was excerpted from Chapter 6 — “TALK” of Laura’s NEW book — Knowing HER Intimately: 12 Keys for Creating a Sextraordinary Marriage. Get your copy here for a fabulously discounted price…especially for Meridian readers!
Other articles in this series:
- “‘Bridges to Desire’ — Better Preparation for Intimacy” (Feb 1, 2017)
- “Making Intimacy in Marriage a Priority” (Jan 4, 2017)
- “Creating a Secure Foundation for Intimacy” (Dec 5, 2016)
- “Spiritual Principles for Determining What’s Okay in Intimacy” (Oct 31, 2016)
- “Sexuality is Part of Your Divine Nature” (Oct 3, 2016)
- “12 Keys for Creating a Happy Intimate Life in Your Marriage” (Sep 8, 2016)
BIO — Laura M. Brotherson, LMFT, CST, CFLE
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Certified Sex Therapist (CST), Laura M. Brotherson, is the author of the best-selling book, And They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment, and her latest book Knowing HER Intimately: 12 Keys for Creating a Sextraordinary Marriage. She counsels with individuals, couples and families in private practice (and online), and is the host of “The Marital Intimacy Show” podcast.
As a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE), Laura is actively engaged in providing marriage education through Couples Cruises, articles, newsletters, radio and television broadcasts, and presenting at conferences and workshops. Laura is passionate about helping couples navigate the intricacies of intimacy to help build stronger marriages and families. She and her husband, Kevin, of 25 years are the founders of StrengtheningMarriage.com—your trusted resource for education, products and services to strengthen marriages… intimately!
Connect with Laura:
[i] Hess, J. A., and Coffelt, T. A., “Verbal Communication about Sex in Marriage: Patterns of Language Use and Its Connection with Relational Outcomes,” Journal of Sex Research 49(6) (2012): 603-612. doi:10.1080/00224499.2011.619282.
[ii] Timm, T. M., and Keiley, M. K., “The Effects of Differentiation of Self, Adult Attachment, and Sexual Communication on Sexual and Marital Satisfaction: A Path Analysis,” Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 37(3) (2011): 206-223. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2011.564513.
Michael G.March 29, 2017
I echo Steve's and Gary's comments. I often wish I could be as physically closed off as my wife. We've been married 21 years and I still can't figure out how to get her want me. Maybe we need the miracle herb that Tammi mentioned.
BryanMarch 25, 2017
I'm with ya, Steve. I wonder if a man would be able to build a career out of coaching women on how to stroke their husbands so that they'd do more housework. I think the very idea would irk a hefty percentage of women.