Let’s Talk About Sex

Devout single people speak out on how they manage the intimate side of their relationships

By Margot Carmichael Lester

mericans are far from prudish, but a recent nationwide survey by the Sinclair Institute suggests a growing number are spending less time in the bedroom—at least in part because they aren’t enjoying themselves. About 70 percent of respondents said they weren’t totally satisfied with their sex lives.

That means a lot of people aren’t talking about sex.
About 70 percent of respondents said they weren’t totally satisfied with their sex lives.
And, frankly, they should be.

“Because all humans are designed for self-preservation, we tend to avoid discussions that would open us up to rejection, ridicule, scorn, or someone saying ‘Man, are you a pervert or what?’” explains Monty Wright, pastor at Snoqualmie Valley Alliance Church in Washington State. “While we long to talk about this incredible aspect of our relationship, because of how vulnerable we would become talking about it, most are not willing to enter into the dialogue in case the other person is not receptive to what is being talked about.”

The importance of the topic holds true whether you are a person who chooses to engage in premarital sex or is waiting until marriage—the issue of intimacy and discussing your and your partner’s thoughts and needs retains its power… and its fear factor.

Should you just avoid the subject?
And this is exacerbated by things you learned at church or at home. “The thought of talking about sex freaks me out,” says Ted Miller of La Habra, CA. “In church, we’re taught that sex is a essentially a necessary evil that’s designed for procreation, not pleasure.”

“The ‘it’s bad’ teaching that lives within the recesses of our minds doesn’t just go away,” Wright says. “So you need to know what God does say about sex. Read through the sexual and erotic beauty of Solomon’s Song of Songs in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible). This thing is packed with sexual fireworks! So when you feel the bad teachings come crashing down, remind yourself of what God really said.”

Julia Young of Chicago says it’s hard to talk to her partner about sex because he was raised in a very traditional, conservative family in which sex wasn’t discussed. “If he had questions, they were answered
It won’t get worse, right? And it just might get a whole lot better!
without elaboration,” she says. “On the other hand, I was raised by a Women’s Lib swinging divorcée.”

“If you grew up in a home where there was no demonstration of physical affection coupled with no dialogue about sexuality, your subconscious gets the message that sex is not something to talk about, engage in, or bring into the light,” Wright explains. “Many don’t even realize this grid is at work in their lives, and often wonder why they just can’t talk about it. Dealing with our family-of-origin issues very often reveals the ‘whys’ of our lives.”

Deciding whether to speak up
To get more comfortable talking about sex, Wright suggests asking yourself if saying nothing is making the situation better and bringing you closer together in intimacy. “If the answer is no,” he says, “then I’d say take the risk and start talking. It won’t get worse, right? And it just might get a whole lot better!”

Talking the talk
Apart from the obvious downside of not getting what you need in terms of sexuality and intimacy, there’s another reason to have the conversation. “If you don’t talk about it, there’s a feeling that you can’t be completely free with your partner,” says Brenda Fischer of New York. “And if you can’t share your deepest thoughts and feelings with the person whom you’re closest to, who can you share them with?”

These tips will help you start the conversation:
  • Get mentally prepared. Remind yourself that this discussion isn’t ‘just about you’ but about the health and longevity of your relationship. Then you’ll start speaking from a calm, caring place of “us” and not a nervous, defensive place of “I.”
  • Find a quiet, unstressed moment, and ask your partner two questions: “On a scale from 1-10, where would you honestly rate our relationship?” and “What do you think it would take to move it up to a 10?” “This could really open a great dialogue where you could share what you need to make it a 10 as well,” Wright says.
  • Be sincere. If you approach the topic with honesty and clarity and discuss this as you would any other issue in your relationship, your partner will most likely follow suit.
Trusting your partner with your sexual needs is an act of faith that can strengthen your relationship. So even if you or your partner hesitates, keep at it, Wright counsels. “Take the risk, God always honors a faith step.”

While living in Los Angeles, North Carolina writer Margot Carmichael Lester taught classes in “How to Talk About Sex.” She also met her husband online.
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