Wendy and Larry Maltz of Healthy Sex.com offered these fifteen suggestions to help with healthy sexual communication in your marriage:
1. Both [spouses] need to make a commitment to engage in a discussion about intimate concerns.
2. Choose a quiet time for discussion when you are not likely to be interrupted. Give your undivided attention to being with your [spouse].
3. Sit reasonably close to each other and maintain eye contact. Be aware of the tone and volume of your voice.
4. Avoid blaming, name-calling, accusations and sarcasm.
5. Deal with only one issue at a time.
6. State specifically and clearly what you feel and need. Use “I statements”, rather than “you statements.” (Example: Say “I felt rejected when you didn’t want to hug last night” rather than “You’re so cold; the way you treat me is cruel.”)
7. Maintain an optimistic perspective that change is possible. Avoid bringing up resentments from the distant past. Refrain from using the words “always” or “never”.
8. Listen to your [spouse]. Strive to understand each other’s feelings and needs. Communicate that understanding to your [spouse]. (You can communicate understanding and still have a different opinion or perspective than your [spouse]).
9. When discussing sexual intimacy concerns, keep in mind that a [husband and/or wife] are apt to feel scared, embarrassed, or hurt. Emphasize what you like and what works well before making a new request or discussing something that bothers you.
10. Avoid getting sidetracked on irrelevant issues; “It happened in 2005.” “No, it was 2004.” Refrain from “I’m right, you’re wrong” arguments.
11. Explore and discuss various options for change. Work together to brainstorm how individual needs can be met and feelings addressed more effectively. Make the issue the “problem”, not each other.
12. See intimate problems as a normal, natural part of a [marriage]. Turn them into opportunities to learn and grow as a couple.
13. If you and your [spouse] agree to a solution to the problem, try it out, then plan to discuss in the near future how the solution is working for both of you.
14. Give yourselves permission to table discussion of an issue if you feel no progress is being made. You each may get new insights and understandings thinking about it independently. Make sure you resume discussion within several days.
15. Seek professional help when needed. Don’t allow unresolved sexual issues to fester and erode your positive feelings for each other.
[i] Greenberg, Jerrold S., Bruess, Clint E., Oswalt, Sara B., Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality, 5th Ed. ( 2014, 88). The full article can also be found at http://healthysex.com/healthy-sexuality/part-two-guidelines/communications-guidelines/ Edits by Sam Zaragoza