In some ways, talking about sex is like talking about anything else. You and your partner should agree that you want to discuss sex. You should both behave respectfully. That means listen carefully. Don’t interrupt. Make sure you understand what your partner’s saying by repeating back what you heard. Keep an open mind. Be receptive without judgment. Trust each other and know that the conversation is confidential. And absolutely no deriding any suggestions your partner makes.

Common sense courtesy is the best way to start. But then what?

1)    Take the talk to neutral territory. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about sex outside the bedroom, when you’re not having sex. When you’re both feeling relaxed in a casual setting. You’re not as vulnerable and you’re probably more able to absorb what your partner is saying than you would be in the heat of the moment.

2)    Make an appointment. You don’t need to be formal, but you do need to set aside a time when you can both devote time and attention to the conversation. That means you have put the kids to bed and they’re sound asleep. That means you have turned your cell phones, and any other noisemakers, off. That means you are both focused and not about to rush off to do something else.

3)    Be positive and encouraging. Most people have pretty fragile egos when it comes to sex. So instead of saying, “Stop doing that,” or “I don’t like it when you…” try a gentler, more positive approach. “I’d like you to do this to me…” or “You know when you touch me there? I’d like it a little softer please.” If you don’t have the words, you can show him with your hand or pick up his hand and guide it.

4)    Adhere to the facts. Tell your partner how you feel. Try to be as specific as possible about what you would like. Make sure you understand what your partner would like. Ask for clarification. This is no time to blame each other. Nor do you want to be defensive if you can avoid it. Try to hear what your partner is saying and make changes necessary to give your partner a better experience. Be clear with your requests so your partner can do the same.

5)    Don’t make this a one-time talk. Sex is such an important part of your relationship. If you seldom discuss it, no wonder it feels awkward. But like anything, the more you practice, the more comfortable you become. And the easier it gets. And the more you understand what makes your partner happy.

6)    Remember, it’s about love. Sex is such a harsh sounding word for an act of love. The whole point of talking about it is to heighten your love relationship so you and your partner can experience more pleasure. Be more intimate. Bask in the warmth and tenderness only you and your partner can achieve.

You deserve sexual pleasure. Be patient with yourself and with your partner. It takes time to feel totally comfortable with such an intimate topic. Keep talking about sex with compassion and humor and an open mind. And above all, love.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: