It's not just about having the talk—it's about shifting your perspective.

By Rea Frey
January 06, 2020
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My sex life used to be rocking. Throw in a long-term relationship, a kid, a dog, phones, jobs, stress, distractions, and hot sex quickly slipped to the back burner.

Even after attempting a 30-day sex challenge to hack my married sex life back into action, my husband and I noticed that our romantic relationship still wasn't taking center stage. We'd occasionally have one hot night, but there were far too many not-so-hot nights in between. While we were engaging as partners, we swiftly realized that ten years in, our romantic partnership had turned transactional.

We talked ad nauseam about having more sex. "We should be having more sex!" we would exclaim over and over again. But when we did end up having sex, it sometimes felt like another thing to cross off our endless to-do list. (See: How to Ask Your Partner for More Sex Without Offending Them)

It was clear we needed to approach this in a new way to achieve different results.

One night, we cleared the defensive decks and had a radically honest conversation. We were tired of the circuitous conversations that left each of us feeling crappy about the fact that we weren't having more sex. Every time we talked, nothing really changed, so I decided to try a new tactic: I didn't just tell my husband what I wanted, but why.

In his brain, that clarification morphed this "issue" from him not giving me something I wanted to truly understanding why I wanted it in the first place. It wasn't about him. It was about me. My needs had nothing to do with his shortcomings, but rather, about what he could do to turn me on and why it was a turn on in the first place.

That little, three-letter word was a game-changer. (FYI, finding your "why" is hugely important to health and fitness goals, too.)

We were no longer bitching and moaning about what we weren't getting. Instead, we flipped it from the negative to the positive: I made my husband feel confident by telling him what he could do to me and for me that I loved, and vice versa. As we talked, we came to understand that simply telling your partner what you want or need almost always makes the other person feel like they're inadequate—but if you directly tell your partner what you want and why it drives you wild, it shifts the dynamic completely. By simply explaining our needs or desires, we instantly felt closer and more connected. It was no longer him against me, or me against him—it was us working toward a common goal: pleasure.

For example, I wanted my husband to take more initiative. It's something I've said over the years, but all he heard was: "I'm not satisfying her." As we continued to talk, it became clear that, like a lot of women, I wanted my husband to take control because I am the primary decision-maker in our household. In our sex life, I wanted to utterly lose control because I felt safe with my husband. (Related: BDSM Saved My Marriage) We stopped the blame game and instead focused solely on making each other feel good. With that simple change, our sex life became a playground of possibility. The pressure was off, and we were finally having fun. We both felt valued, heard, and understood.

Suddenly, it didn't matter that our daughter was around or that we were tired. We still found time to sneak off and get lost in pleasing each other and trying new things. By being open and honest, sex wasn't just one more thing to cross off the list. It was a release. It was necessary. It was great.

And on those days where sex didn't happen? It was okay because we were finally both on the same page.

If talking to your partner makes you nervous, don't worry. Dig a little deeper before you even have the conversation. For example, if you want to be dominated, maybe it's because you're very Type A, like me. If you want to have sex with a woman, maybe it's because women make you feel safe. If you want to dominate, maybe it's to exert your own sense of control.

Whatever it is you want, own it. Examine your own interests or fantasies and don't be afraid to speak up. Half the fun is in talking about what turns you on, then discussing the why so you are both on the same page. (Here are more tips on how to talk to your partner about what you want in bed.)

So, if your sex life is off track, explain your why. Not just what you want but why you want it. And have some fun going after it—in or outside the bedroom.

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