You've heard of premarital counseling. But what about premarital sex counseling? It sounds a little crazy — after all, you've known about the birds and the bees for years — but our experts say many couples can benefit from this kind of counseling before they tie the knot.
As Madeleine Castellanos, M.D., sex expert and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive, explains, "The sooner a couple can start having healthy communication about their sexuality and their expectations for their sexual relationship, the sooner they will find harmony in their sex lives together."
Beyond that, adds Gloria Brame, Ph.D., sexologist and author of The Truth About Sex: A Sex Primer For The 21st Century, "if there's a hint of sexual problems or conflicts, a sex therapist can resolve it and help them create a more solid foundation to their marriage. Counseling can answer any concerns or questions they may have," she says, including those worries you may have for down the road. "In premarital sex counseling, I also lightly prepare couples for the challenges of married sex, not just as it is this year but how it will be for them 20 years and even 40 years out," she explains.
During sessions, our experts say, a couple might discuss anything from: Their expectations of frequency and sexual compatibility; any anxiety around sex; their individual (and joint) sexual styles; their thoughts about pornography; how they feel about foreplay; and even how sex could change after children. "Premarital sex counseling helps a couple have an open dialogue about sex so that they can learn to negotiate times when sex might be affected by life events," explains Castellanos.
Most couples benefit from premarital sex counseling, our experts agree, even if they're already sexually active with one another. As Brame points out, this kind of counseling may be a couple's first frank discussion about sex with one another. "One of the biggest problems married people have is poor communication about sex, so talking to each other about their sexual needs, fantasies, and functions, in plain English, is often a [good move]."
But that doesn't mean premarital sex counseling is for everyone. "If both people in a couple find that they can be open and honest about their thoughts and feelings related to sex, and are also able to listen openly to their partners as well, they probably do not need premarital sex counseling," says Castellanos.
If you think you and your partner might benefit from premarital sex counseling, a good place to find a qualified sex therapist or educator is the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists' website.