Over the 22 years I’ve been married, my husband and I have learned a lot about how to make our sex life mutually lovely and fulfilling. And by learning, I definitely mean lots of ups and downs—moments of cringey awkwardness, various frustrations and disappointments, dry seasons, mismatched libidos, postpartum anxiety and depression, weeks of back pain, seasons of job stress and family-of-origin drama that impacted us—you name it, we’ve been through it!
What helped us make it through all of these challenges with a happy love life that we’re really thankful for is the willingness to keep growing, keep approaching each other, an openness to solid inspiration and information, and a willingness to keep trying.
Another huge key for us—and we teach this to the couples we reach through our marriage ministry-- is the importance of being able to talk with each other about how things are going in bed (or wherever else in your house you might maritally embrace!).
What I’ve learned is that my husband can’t read my mind.
I have to actually communicate with words what is in my mind so that it will also be in his mind! I’ve also learned that a lot of the stories I’ve told myself about why this or that is or is not happening are not usually an accurate match with the situation. I can make assumptions about what he’s thinking, feeling, or wanting, and once we talk about it, lo and behold, something entirely different from that is going on in his mind and heart.
Another really important “pearl of great price” bit of wisdom that we learned is that our intimacy is a reflection of our overall relationship dynamics. If we are trusting, supportive, emotionally close, and affirming of each other outside the bedroom, that will show up in a lovely way when it’s time to celebrate our one-flesh union. And vice versa. It’s so important to tend and nurture the quality of your overall marriage to help make your love life the best it can be.
Lastly, I will just say this: being able to be light-hearted and laugh together about your love life is so good. Have humility and be willing to grow together, and you will find that the mystery of the Wedding at Cana can unfold over the years as you build your sexual relationship with each other. It can just get better and better. “You have saved the best wine for last” (John 2:10)!
Here are some conversation starters to help you and your beloved have meaningful conversations about sex:
Sex Check-In Conversation Starter Questions for Husbands and Wives
What gets you “in the mood” for sex? What do you find most attractive or erotic?
What were some of the best, most romantic, or most passionate times that we have shared sexually?
How do you feel after sex? Satisfied or fulfilled? Tender and close? Sleepy? Energetic? What would help you feel more united or connected?
How do you feel about how often we have sex? Ideally, what do you think would be optimal?
What about foreplay do you like the best?
Are there things we haven’t done that you would like to try? What are they?
How do you feel about the idea of praying before, during, or after sex?
Dr. SarahBartel, PhD, is a moral theologian and co-founder of the Catholic online marriage enrichment ministry, CanaFeast.com . She runs Cana Feast with her husband of 22 years, Nathan. Together they have 5 children.