Part of being an adult is unlearning the things that no longer serve you, and learning new things that bring richer meaning to your life. When it comes to sex, there’s a lot that isn’t helpful that we can unlearn, and a lot we can learn to bring deeper meaning and joy to our most important intimate relationships. Communicating is key, and there is a lot we can do to make our sex lives deeper and more gourmet.
Sex Happens More When You Enjoy It
We gravitate towards things that feel good and pleasurable, that we enjoy, and avoid things we don’t enjoy, that may hurt, cause contention, or just be unpleasant in any number of ways. Just like most things in life, sex will happen more often if both you and your partner enjoy that time together. Learning to communicate well about your sexual preferences and desires will help you become the best sexual version of yourself possible, and provide for better, more connecting sex more often.
Fast Food Versus Gourmet Sex
Think about eating fast food. It is quick and easy, and can taste good occasionally. But if fast food is all you are ever eating, you won’t ever feel completely satisfied, and will get really tired of fast food really quickly. You have to add in some gourmet meals to feel completely satiated and happy. This is the same in the bedroom. What kind of sexual experience are we giving our spouse? Are we just giving them fast food, quick in-and-out sex? Or are we working hard to make the experience gourmet for them and for ourselves?
What defines gourmet? It is different for each person. If you hate French food, and go to a 5-star “gourmet” French restaurant and are handed a plate of escargot, you may react differently than if you were at a restaurant with the food you love. You may say “ew, I hate snails! I don’t care how well these were prepared or how great everyone else says they are. I simply do not like snails.” So gourmet for you may be different than those around you, including gourmet for your partner. You have to work to figure out what gourmet means to you, and what gourmet means to your spouse. Then work to find a balance that makes it gourmet for both of you!
One myth that gets in the way of intimate connection for couples is the idea that sexual compatibility means that you both must like all the same sexual things all the time. Wrong! Realize that this simply isn’t true. Chances are there are things you like and things your partner likes, and there will be an overlap. Figure out your preferences and sexual activities you both can enjoy. Use these overlapping items to prepare a gourmet meal in the bedroom for both you and your spouse!
Improving your Sexual Palette
Sometimes your palette may start out a little more fast food then gourmet. You may enjoy the quick in-and-out sex at first, or occasionally throughout your marriage, but developing a gourmet palette will make sex so much better than it was before, and help your sex life stay gourmet for your whole life.
Pay attention to your motives around sex. Are you having sex with your partner to receive a reward, or are you having sex with your partner to avoid a consequence of some sort? In studies of mice running in a maze, the mice who were running towards cheese (a reward) functioned and thought very differently than the mice who were running away from an owl (a consequence). If you are both anticipating a reward in sex, you will both enjoy sex more and have a better experience overall. If you are avoiding a consequence in sex, you may be having sex so your spouse won’t get grumpy, you won’t have to worry about doing it for a few more days, it’s a holiday, or many other reasons. So how can you learn to run towards more cheese and away from less owls in the bedroom? We all have systems at play that affect our sexual palette.
Knowing your Sexual Self
When people are asked to talk about themselves, they have many aspects that are easy to share. They love telling all about their intellectual selves, social selves, creative selves, spiritual selves, and more. But when asked about who they are sexually, they go blank. They have no idea what to say! Learning and knowing your sexual self will make it easier to find the things you love, and develop the gourmet sex skills we are searching for.
Not knowing your sexual self is like going to a restaurant and not knowing what you want to order. You sit there and look around not wanting to decide what to order because nothing sounds good. When the waiter comes by and asks what you want, you reply with “I don’t know, I am here for my spouse because I know they like this restaurant and we are supposed to go out to dinner. But I don’t know what I want.” Learn what you like and want in the bedroom. Give yourself permission to explore your sexual tastes. And learn to express those to your spouse so you can have a wonderful, gourmet time in the bedroom as well.
Moving Towards More Cheese and Less Owl
When engaging sexually feels more like you’re drawing towards a reward rather than avoiding a consequence, it’s more exciting and connecting. This requires you to understand your preferences: what you like and don’t like in bed. At first this may take a lot of exploration. Realizing that this exploration is part of being human and is a good thing will help you become the best sexual version of yourself that you can and start chasing that cheese even more.
Second, create an individual ownership over your sexuality. Sexuality is part of your wholeness, it is yours and whatever is there is fine. And third, when we get there and are no longer scared to see what is there, no longer scared to explore our individual tastes and preferences, then where you and your spouse’s preferences overlap can fall into place more easily. You are a sexual being and your spouse is a sexual being and you will have different preferences. And some of our preferences will overlap, but not all of them. You can be different from your spouse and you can still be close. This does not mean that you are incompatible. You grow into more and more compatibility each day.
Developing Sexual Communication Skills
Sexual communication is extremely important. You won’t be able to truly grow into your full sexual self and sexual capabilities without learning to communicate with your spouse about your desires in the bedroom. Make sure to talk to your partner before surprising your spouse with something they may not like. We have to discover who we are and what our gourmet might look like, then talk about that together and figure out what that would look like so that it is cheese (a reward or a gourmet experience) for both people. We can learn a lot from the kink community and their great communication skills! If you aren’t familiar with the kink community, they are a group of individuals who accept the “weird” or “non vanilla” preferences they have and express those with other individuals. They communicate very strongly both before their sexual interactions as well as throughout the interaction to be sure the other person is completely comfortable with what they are doing. Learn to talk it out, and keep talking about it the rest of your lives. As you learn and grow, many things about you will change, same with your partner. You have to be willing to adjust as these things change, and keep talking about it constantly.
There are six main sexual health principles that are important to remember as you learn to communicate sexually: consent, non-exploitation, mutual pleasure, protection from STI’s and unwanted pregnancy, honesty, and shared values. Communicating sexually and using these six principles is more than, “do you want to have sex tonight?” It’s also, “what would you like tonight?” Consent was not modeled well to us, so we are learning consent now. Without consent, sex can end up becoming pressure, obligation and pleasing. These are not good things to build your relationship on, especially your sexual relationship. When you engage out of one of these three things, within months you will have no desire to keep having sex. This is running from the owl instead of towards the cheese.
Dealing with Anxiety in the Bedroom
It takes a lot of maturity to live with the attitude of, “I want my partner to develop whether or not that blesses me”. It’s a mature stance because you have to let go of the idea of wanting them to develop only in ways that reinforce yourself. Do you really want your spouse to develop as a person even if it doesn’t benefit you directly?
Work on self-soothing, which is any behavior that you use to regulate your own emotional state. Learn to take what your spouse says seriously, but not personally. Don’t let their growth and their preferences hurt your ego and make you think that you are less to them because of what they are wanting. This is what self soothing is!
The fear that your dynamic in the bedroom will change as you learn and grow in the bedroom is a real and valid fear. But know that the dynamic will most likely change for the better if you keep working to make your marriage great! It’s hard to learn that it’s not that they didn’t want sex. But that they didn’t want the kind of sex that was being offered. You both co-created the problems you have in the bedroom. You assuming your tastes and preferences were the right ones, and them assuming the same thing, caused a divide.
A lot of anxiety exists around what is ok and what isn’t in the bedroom. But you have to learn to own your sexuality and self. And realize that it’s not your spouse’s job to give you pleasure. You are in charge of your own orgasm. An idea of sexual dependency has come about. It removes the idea that we should be able to influence and grow our own sexuality. It is easy to be threatened by the things that work for your spouse in orgasming. Like when a wife can orgasm better with a vibrator than with penetration from the husband. Being in charge of your orgasm can make it so much better and easier to achieve a great orgasm.
In many ways, couples sex is masturbating with another person’s body. But you have to work to make that experience bonding. If our definition of sex is connection and pleasure, there are a whole lot of ways to get there that may not be what you would normally consider. It may not include penetration or an orgasm, and it may not. Unlearn the unhelpful stuff and relearn the helpful stuff.
Black Belt Tips
You owe it to yourself to understand your sexual self identity and to figure out what you like. Do you know how to connect with your body as a vehicle for pleasure?
Start there until there is an internal conviction and understanding of your body as a vehicle for pleasure. Learn to take your partner seriously as opposed to personally. People have to have enough space and autonomy, enough separateness, to want something. Desire means wanting, and if there’s too much pressure, or too much of a good thing all the time, there will be no more wanting. Like a favorite chocolate cake being forced upon you every single day. As much as you love that chocolate cake, having it every day and being forced to eat it makes it undesirable.
If you’re needing help with communication and creating a gourmet sex life, you can find Cami Hurst, a wonderful sex therapist who helped us understand these principles at:
www.camihurst.com, or email email@example.com. And make sure to download the Intimately Us app today to continue to grow your marriage and use our Yes, No, Maybe list to learn about communication and what you truly want in the bedroom.
Love this article?
Try this fun and sexy app for your marriage!
I love this app! My husband and I are such busy people, this helps us stop and make sure we show the love that we have for each other. I’d give 6 stars if I could!
This is by far the #1 sex app for Christian couples! My wife and I played the games like 5 times over the last week. Sparks are flying and we’ve never felt so close before. Thank you!