Sometimes, talking about sex can be awkward. But, "you can't have a great sex life unless you have great communication about sex with your partner," says sex therapist Gloria Brame, Ph.D. "The more you can talk about what you want, ask for what you like, and listen to and act on your partner's needs, the better your sex life will be." And you can start the conversation with these six topics.
1. Talk about how you initiate sex.
If you can't pick up what your partner is putting down, so to speak, your sex life could suffer. So ask your partner what his or her signal is that he or she wants to get down and dirty. "Many people think that this should be obvious and doesn’t really need to be discussed," says Madeleine Castellanos, M.D., sex therapist and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive. "But this is one question that most couples learn the most about each other when they first come in to see me for counseling. Think about it: If you aren't picking up on the signals your partner is sending you, misinterpreting the signals, or maybe even ignoring them, you are missing out on a chance to form a connection with your partner."
2. Ask each other about your biggest turn-ons and turn-offs.
If you've always had a routine that works for you, but you've never taken the time to find out what the other really craves, now's the time to talk. As Brame explains, "the best way to ensure your partner keeps you turned on is to know and indulge each other's biggest turn-ons." At the same time, you should open up about what doesn't work for you. "If there are specific acts, positions or words that instantly turn you off, telling your partner will help him avoid upsetting you in bed," Brame says.
3. Open up about your fantasies.
Some people want talk about their sex fantasies because they're worried they'll be judged by their partners. But, "vulnerability breeds trust," says Kat Van Kirk, certified sex therapist and author of The Married Sex Solution: A Realistic Guide to Saving Your Sex Life, "so the more you can establish that in your sex life, the better and more fun it will be." And just because you talk about it doesn't mean you'll have to do it. "Oftentimes, it's just the thought that can help you create arousal," she says.
4. Talk about how sex has changed.
Just as your life has changed over the years, so too has your sex life. "Sharing what you've noticed can be ways that sex has become more positive for you or more challenging for you," says Castellanos. "By sharing this information, both of you can celebrate how things are better and collaborate to find solutions for the challenges that your sexual relationship may face."
5. Discuss your physical limits.
Some sex moves may not work for you physically. "You may have actual physical issues that prevent you from getting into certain positions or that make penetration painful," describes Brame. "Or maybe you're pregnant and sex feels different." Whatever your limitations, don't let them go without discussion. "Make sure your partner understands your special needs," says Brame, "and will work with you to maximize the pleasure you can have together."
6. Come up with a plan for your post-honeymoon period.
After the honeymoon phase ends, how will you keep the spark alive in your sex life? "All long term relationships have ebbs and flows regarding sex," says Van Kirk, who suggests making a pact to always make time and effort for sexual encounters, even if it's just a "quickie, make out session, or simply giving foot rubs during a Netflix marathon." Making that promise, she says, "will help you keep touching each other a priority. After all, it's what keeps us bonded biochemically."