“It’s no surprise that the more my husband and I talk about sex, the better the sex is. I don’t know why it took us almost ten years to figure this one out!” ~ Pamela, married thirteen years to Ed
Sexual intimacy and fulfillment start with your own self-understanding: How aware and comfortable you are with your own sexual needs and desires; your feelings about and your relationship to your own body; and, your overall attitudes about being a sexual person. Each of these impact your ability to communicate your sexual needs (as well as your emotional needs) and therefore impact the overall sexual experience in your marriage/relationship.
Let’s look at each of these briefly.
Your Sexual Needs and Desires
If you don’t have a clear grasp of your own needs, how is your partner going to understand what is and isn’t working for you in the bedroom?
Feedback is inherent to fulfilling sex-and whether you’re aware of it or not, you (verbally or through your unspoken physical reactions) are continuously giving your partner feedback about what is and isn’t working for you sexually. Whether your partner picks up on these communications is an entirely different matter.
It’s important for you to become comfortable sharing your experiences and giving your partner feedback about your needs. Simple and direct statements can go a long way in shaping your sexual relationship with your spouse/partner into one that is enjoyable and fun:
“I really find it hot when you touch my nipples in that way”; “My clitoris is very sensitive, can you do that a little more softly?”; “I like it when you talk to me during sex”; “I read about a new sexual technique I’d like us to try. Are you open to hearing about it and maybe trying something new?”
It’s important to note that you don’t need to know all your sexual desires prior to enjoying sex. The sexual act itself is a laboratory of sorts, through trial and error teaching you about your sexual-self. It’s important that you effectively communicate what you discover about yourself sexually with your spouse/partner. And remember, learning about yourself is a lifelong journey.
Your Relationship to Your Body
It’s obvious but worth stating anyway: Sex places your body center stage. While sex is multi-dimensional (involving psychological, emotional, physical, even spiritual elements), it is the physical sensation of pleasure, the sharing of sensory experiences that heighten body-awareness; to be sexual is to become more conscious of your own body as well as your spouse’s/partner’s body. Pleasure expressed through sexuality is pleasure expressed through your body connecting with the body of your partner.
For many of us, this can be a mixed blessing. The good news is that the more attuned you become to your body’s reactions to sensual and sexual touch/stimulation, the better able you will be at communicating these experiences to your partner-a communication that will allow him/her to also become attuned to the unique ways in which your body reacts.
The not-so-good news is that many of us struggle with body image issues. You may not like your body in general or there may be particular parts of your body that you struggle with. In either case, this conflicted relationship with your body is likely to intensify during sex and raise self-consciousness.
Sharing this information with your spouse/partner is very important and can help direct him/her to the areas of your body that you feel comfortable with and to stay away (or give less focus) to the parts of your body that would cause you discomfort if looked at or touched. Understanding and sharing about each other’s hang-ups and sensitivities can help you each feel more comfortable and emotionally safe while becoming more vulnerable sexually.
Your Sexual Attitudes
From an early age, we are inundated with messages about sex and sexuality. And unfortunately, these messages do always facilitate a healthy unfolding of our sexuality. In fact, these messages are often confusing and contradict one another; while other messages can lead us to feel guilty or ashamed about our own physical desires and sense of self as a sexual person.
These messages aren’t innocuous-instead, they get internalized and profoundly shape our subjective experience of our own sexuality and sexual experiences. The powerful influence of our sexual attitudes (for better or worse) cannot be emphasized enough.
Your attitudes and feelings about sex may be so deep-seated and pervasive, instilled so long ago, that you don’t even realize the full extent and profound influence they have on your sexuality. And not all beliefs and attitudes about sex are readily available to your consciousness. In fact, they may be impacting your experiences from behind the curtain of your awareness. Because of this, it can be very helpful to take stock of your attitudes and feelings about sex-especially if it feels like your sexual enjoyment is being muted and you’re not sure why.
While examining your sexual attitudes, it’s important to realize that your beliefs/feelings about sex reflect your unique perspective, your learning history, rather than some universal truths that everyone holds. Realizing this can help start to loosen the grip of any anti-sex, anti-pleasure attitudes that may have been handed down to you and that may be undermining sexual intimacy with your partner/spouse.
Rewarding sexual intimacy isn’t a given for many couples. Rather, couples must discover each other’s sexual turn-ons and turn-offs (as well as their own), and create a shared sexual journey that is supported by ongoing, effective communication.
For weekly updates on sexuality and intimacy, check out Dr. Nicastro’s blog Spice Up Your Marriage.
And don’t forget to visit http://HowToSpiceUpYourMarriage.net/ to receive your free report on the common hurdles to sexual intimacy.
Rich Nicastro, Ph.D. is a psychologist with twenty years of experience helping couples build greater intimacy in their marriages/relationships.
Article Source: How to Have Great Sex: Start With the Right Questions