It's a tough convo, but one you have to have.
Simply put, "sex is the glue that binds a romantic relationship," says Gloria Brame, Ph.D., clinical sexologist and sex therapist. In other words, if you don't enjoy your sex life, more than your libido can suffer — your relationship can too. And that's just one reason it's important to talk about where your sex life might be lacking with your spouse.
Of course, that's not always an easy conversation to have with a loved one. While it's too important of a conversation to avoid entirely, "often times bringing up this conversation with your partner can risk hurting their feelings," concedes Madeleine Castellanos, M.D., sex therapist and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive.
So here's how to get the conversation started — sans hurt feelings.
1. Ask for change — without complaining.
According to Brame, spouses are most likely to feel hurt during this conversation if you've framed it as something they've done wrong. "Adults can't handle sexual rejection from a spouse — it is just too hurtful," she says. So now is not the time to play the blame game.
Instead, Brame says you should "introduce your fantasies and desires as sexy, seductive ways to get you off." Not sure exactly how to phrase it? Try a script like this: "'I was thinking of what it would be like if you just kissed me like [this] for a really long time. Could we try that?'" Castellanos suggests. "This helps you direct the action without your partner feeling criticized or put down."
2. Take responsibility for your own satisfaction.
Sex isn't exactly easy for a lot of people to talk about. But you can "bring up a difficulty by talking about how you feel about it or experience it," says Castellanos.
"For example, rather than saying, 'I really don’t like [this] style,' you might say, 'I find that being on top seems to be so much more pleasurable than any other position we do — and next to that I would have to say that I like it with you on top.' Focusing on what you feel or experience helps your partner understand it from your point of view rather than feeling criticized."
3. Negotiate for your mutual pleasure.
You want your partner to be satisfied, too. So, ask him or her to also open up during the conversation. "It's not always easy to hear the answer, but it's worthwhile asking the question: What one thing would you change to make our sex life more satisfying or enjoyable for you?" says Castellanos. "This a way to start the conversation about the belief that things can get better."
Another way to broach the subject is to sit down with your spouse and create sex wish lists. "Compare, contrast, cross things off, and add things," Brame says. "You can do this in bed but it's even better to do it when you have time alone in the living room, feeling very relaxed. Your goal is to come up with one mega list of what's great now, what might work in the future and what you never want to try."
This article was originally published at Brides. Reprinted with permission from the author.