1. How often would you like to have sex?
Sex is an important way to express your love and desire for each other. According to David Schnarch, PhD, in an article on the site EverydayFamily.com, “I believe that sex matters: It’s the glue that keeps us together and, without it, couples become “good friends” at best, or “bickering roommates” at worst.” The two of you might have differing opinions on the frequency of sex, but Dr. Schnarch suggests at least once a week to maintain your close connection. Talk with each other about your life demands, stresses, and emotions that interfere with your sex life. Come to an agreement about the minimum amount of sex that is acceptable for your relationship.
2. What sexual fantasies do you have that we can enjoy together?
Don’t allow your intimate life to fall into a rut—the same position, the same day of the week, the same room. If sex becomes boring, you’ll be less inclined to initiate or respond. Maybe you feel shy about discussing your fantasies with your partner, especially if they are particularly, um, progressive. If you have a deep level of trust and respect between you, having this conversation could enhance your relationship. Take it slow and present your fantasies gradually so your partner isn’t put off. Simply talking about your fantasies can be a way to spice up your relationship.
3. How could we improve our sex life?
Beyond frequency and fantasy, what could you do to make your sex life more intimate, exciting, and fun? Daily obligations, stress, and exhaustion can make sex feel obligatory and routine. We fall into a rut and lose touch with the creativity, romance, and desire we had early in the relationship. Talk together about how to improve your sex life. This might include changes in your schedules and behavior. It might mean changing locations, positions, or timing. You might brainstorm creative ideas for using toys, watching movies, or wearing sexy clothing. View this conversation as a creative project you work on together.
4. Do you feel comfortable talking with me about your sexual needs? If not, why?
One of you might not feel completely comfortable discussing sexual needs and desires. If you were raised in a household where sex was never discussed, or it was seen as shameful or embarrassing, you might feel reticent to talk about it or share your inner feelings. Or you might fear your partner won’t react positively to your needs and desires. Both of you need to feel safe discussing sex, but you also need to respect each other’s sexual histories and issues that might contribute to negative or shameful feelings around sex. What seems fun and exciting to one of you might feel sordid and unnatural for the other. Find out from your partner the reasons behind any discomfort discussing sexual needs. Offer him or her a safe space to discuss feelings and to share anything he or she has previously felt reticent to discuss.
5. How much foreplay before sex is important to you?
Foreplay serves a physical and emotional purpose in helping a couple prepare for a mutually satisfying sexual encounter. Women in particular need foreplay, because it takes women a longer time to reach the state of arousal that leads to orgasm. Beyond the physical importance of foreplay, it communicates that you both want to offer the time and attention couples need for intimate lovemaking. You might differ in how much foreplay you desire, so discuss your needs and how you can reach a meeting of the minds and bodies.
6. How can I make you feel more desirable and sexier?
A huge part of feeling sexually confident and happy is knowing you are desirable and sexy in the eyes of your spouse or partner. When we don’t feel our partner really desires us sexually, it undermines the intimacy of the sexual encounter for both partners. You might need to hear your partner tell you that you look hot and sexy, or you might need to see it in the facial expressions. Maybe you’d like words of affirmation about your desirability in between sexual encounters, or you’d like your partner to surprise you with sexual overtures because he or she simply can’t resist you.
7. How much non-sexual affection would you like?
Non-sexual affection—like hugging, backrubs, snuggling, hand-holding, and massage—is an essential part of emotional intimacy between you and your partner. Touch bonds the two of you as a couple and creates a closer connection. Physical affection can lead to sex, but that shouldn’t be the goal of initiating it. Affection should be shared as a way of showing love and reinforcing the desire to be physically close to your partner. Women tend to need and desire more non-sexual affection than men, but both men and women benefit from the effects of physical closeness.
8. What kind of affection feels loving and good to you?
You might love a backrub, but your partner finds it uncomfortable. She might want to snuggle in bed before sleep, but you might need your space. All affection isn’t equal, and what feels loving and relaxing to one of you might not be your spouse’s cup of tea. Talk together about the expressions of physical affection that you like the most and how you can reciprocate with affectionate touch that your spouse enjoys.
9. How much affection in public are you comfortable with?
You might be comfortable kissing, hugging, and snuggling in the privacy of your home, but when you’re with other people, it makes you feel awkward. He might pull you onto his lap at home, and it makes you feel loved and desired. But when it happens in public, you feel embarrassed. How much affection is too much in public settings? Discuss the middle ground where you both feel comfortable and happy touching when others are around.
10. When do you need affection the most?
Some of us welcome and need affection when we’re feeling down or going through a life difficulty. We might require it after a fight with our spouse as a way of solidifying reconciliation. If we feel sick or tired, we long for a loving touch. But others feel less inclined to give or receive affection during these times. There are times affection is simply a way of connecting, and other times when it can be deeply healing. Discover the occasions when affection is most meaningful to your partner.
Follow-up: Are there any behavior adjustments you’d like to request from your partner related to your sex life? What specific action steps will you both take to help enhance your sex life? Write these down and determine how and when you will initiate these changes or actions.