My husband and I can talk about anything. There was that one time we held a lengthy discussion on the state of gun control laws over coffee in our living room. That road trip we took to Colorado together where an eight-hour discussion in the car didn’t feel like an eternity. We’ve covered politics, the pros and cons of social media use, and what we definitely won’t let our child do. But, for some reason, when it came to discussing our own marriage, having conversations got more difficult—so talking about the ins and outs of our sex life (no pun intended) was basically a nonexistent activity.
In our relationship, I’m the one who wears her heart on her sleeve. If a friend gives birth, I’m the one who is quick to ask for details about the weight, the labor, and family reactions while my husband is comfortable hearing nothing more than, “John and his wife had their baby yesterday.” Where I am open and honest and want to go in depth talking about issues surrounding our marriage, my husband is fine staying on the surface.
Sex is one of the topics to make him clam up when I try to explore it more deeply. I mean, it was always just something we did together as a couple—not something we talked about. Any time I asked questions about sex techniques or wondered his opinions on sex positions, I was met with his slightly shifting eyes, a cough, and a brief, brief answer. I was much more open about sex—one, I’m a nurse, and two, I’m not afraid to explore things that can feel awkward or private. I wanted him to feel that comfortable with me, too.
One night, I decided to take matters into my own hands, researched a relationship website, and presented my husband with a list of twenty questions about sex.
Of course, I gave him fair warning, and I also reminded him that this was from a legit psychology website. We sat down with glasses of wine and dove in.
I watched him become interested in a water spot on his wine glass. “Um,” he started, shyly, “I guess I just try and touch you?” He looked up for confirmation.
I knew we could split these questions up over different evenings, and we figured it would be good to start slow. But as we ran down the list—answering questions about what we like, what we fantasize about—something started happening. My dear husband actually started using words like “orgasm” and “sucking” without blinking rapidly.
I finally reached the last question and realized the whole evening had gone by.
We had talked about our sex life for almost two and a half hours. It was so vulnerable and immensely freeing. And you can guess what we did when we were done talking.
That night pushed us both out of our comfort zones. The more we talked, the easier it became to talk about, and we realized that we were just having another conversation—not all that different from when we held a rousing discussion about the best ways to cook chicken.
But I’ve learned that to keep the momentum, we need to keep talking about sex. We need to keep talking about it so that it stops being weird and taboo and starts becoming a part of us.
Sex is great, but I discovered that sex is even better when you’re open about it, when you can talk about what you want, what feels good, and what you need them to do differently. It’s more than post-coital talk under the covers at night. It’s more than breathless comments you only make in the dark.
Sitting in the living room after the baby goes to bed with a glass of wine and a questionnaire is one way to have better conversations about sex. But I think that as long as couples are having some sort of conversation on a regular basis, they’ll see their relationship grow. For my husband and me, pushing each other to talk about something that we considered private has brought us closer in all areas of our marriage.
And, not surprisingly, we have better sex. Because we are open, we now know what the other person wants. That online questionnaire was the nudge we needed to make that happen.