3 Uncomfortable Conversations Every Married Couple Needs to Have About Their Sex Life

And conversation starters to get things going

A married couple talks about sex
MoMo Productions/Getty Images

We’re throwing this introduction to Salt-n-Pepa who famously sang: “Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things. And the bad things that may be.”  

You heard them. We’ve gotta talk about the good things and the bad things when it comes to maintaining a healthy and thriving sexual relationship. Colleen Marshall, Chief Clinical Officer of Two Chairs, which matches patients to the right therapist, tells us that “regular and open communication about sexual needs, desires, preferences, and boundaries is key to fostering a healthy and fulfilling sexual relationship” among married couples. 

Still, if you’ve been together forever, maybe you feel like that ship has sailed or that you already know everything about your partner. Not true, says Marshall. 

Instead, she suggests setting aside dedicated time and space for these check-ins, where long-term partners can openly discuss what they want, like and don’t like in terms of their sexual experiences. After all, you schedule sex, so why not try scheduling talking about sex? Marshall even recommends having these “date nights” regularly, so that partners can normalize expressing their thoughts, feelings and desires in a safe and supportive environment. 

For your next “date night,” here are three conversations to have in your pocket that will get you and your spouse on the same page and keep you satisfied with your connection. (And psst: these are ongoing conversations. What you discussed in March might change by the time August rolls around.) 

Conversation #1: Boundaries—In and Out of the Bedroom

Why is it important? Your wife likes doing it with the lights on, but you don’t. You want butt stuff, but your husband isn’t so sure. You and your spouse need to feel comfortable—as in safe and respected—not only during sex, but during these uncomfortable conversations. “Discussing these topics outside of the bedroom, in a non-threatening and non-judgmental environment, can help both partners feel more comfortable expressing themselves honestly,” shares Marshall. So, even if you like exploring power dynamics in the bedroom, you should both be on equal footing for this talk so you can raise issues like, maybe you’re not into fooling around with power dynamics anymore. Use this conversation to establish (or update/amend) the space that feels safe for you and your partner. 

Dialogue Starters:

  • How are you feeling about that, uh, thing I’ve been doing?
  • Should we put anything on the shelf? It’s OK if you’re not into handcuffs. 
  • I love you, but I want to slow down the weekday sexting. 

Conversation #2: Acknowledging Sex Drive Fluctuations

Why is it important? Even though you’ve known your hubby since he was rolling around in slime reciting Banquo’s monologue for his “avant garde” performing arts thesis (he’s an account manager now), feelings about sex and connection can change (like, say, careers). For instance, maybe you had a baby a few months ago and you don’t feel as grounded in your body. Or maybe he’s on a medication that lowers his sex drive. “Understanding that desire levels can vary widely between individuals and that these differences are not necessarily a reflection of one's interest or attraction to their partner is essential,” explains Marshall. Try to leave the guilt and shame out of it so you can come to a mutual understanding. 

Dialogue Starters:

  • I’ve been sensing some changes with you—I’d love to know what’s going on in your head.
  • I’m feeling a little different lately, and I want to talk about it.
  • I think toys could help me—how would you feel about that?

Conversation #3: Needs & Desires

Why is it important? Aka, what’s making you horny these days? But also: what’s doing it for your partner? This is the fantasy-building convo. Maybe you’ve been thinking about doing some “ear stuff” or talking dirty. This is the time to bring that up. But the reason this is conversation number three and not number one is key: “Sexual compatibility is a crucial aspect of any romantic relationship, and it's not uncommon for couples to have disagreements or differences in their sexual desires and preferences,” says Marshall. In other words, you can’t really get into the fun stuff without keeping in mind what you discussed regarding boundaries and troubleshooting. For instance, imagine your partner expresses wanting to up the frequency, even though you just mentioned in a number-two convo that menopause is affecting your libido. It would feel like he didn’t hear you or is just completely disregarding your feelings, which in turn would weaken your connection. The point of these conversations is intimate connection which is built from trust. 

Dialogue Starters:

  • I want to hear about your fantasy in more detail.
  • Are you satisfied with what we’ve been doing? 
  • I know you’re not into sexting while we’re at work, but could we try some role play in the bedroom?


Executive Editor, Frazzled Mom, Bravo-Holic

Dara Katz is PureWow's Executive Editor, focusing on relationships, sex, horoscopes, travel and pets. Dara joined PureWow in 2016 and now dresses so much better. A lifestyle...