I think a lot of spouses don’t ask for what they want in bed. I think this is frustrating for both spouses because the spouse who doesn’t ask if often not getting what they want or need to make the sexual experience the best it can be. Often the other spouse is frustrated that their partner is not expressing any desire in anything in particular, which often comes across as being not interested in them sexually.
So, here are some of the reasons why you, or your spouse, might not be asking for what you, or they, want in bed.
1. You’re afraid of your spouse’s reaction
Often we don’t ask for what we want because we’re afraid of our spouse’s reaction to our request. It could be that we don’t want to be seen as selfish. This is particularly true if our spouse never asks for anything, in particular, themselves. Of course, that creates a deadlock where both spouses aren’t speaking up because the other doesn’t. They might both be afraid to ask for what they want because neither wants to appear selfish in their request.
One of you needs to break the pattern, and that means stepping out on a limb and asking for it. Spouses in healthy relationships are interested in what their husband or wife want. They like to make each other feel good. Telling them how to do that isn’t selfish, it’s intimate. It’s being vulnerable and sharing. It’s an opportunity to deepen your connection.
Other’s are afraid that their spouse will think they’re perverted. This is a little harder to deal with because it depends on the request. There’s no blanket rule here. Truth is, sometimes we humans do come up with perverted things. I can’t give you a list of “this is acceptable and this is not” because I’m sure there are new things on the horizon, especially as technology continues to expand the horizons of what is possible.
But, ideally, we should be able to go to our spouse still and say “I’ve been thinking about this, what do you think?” and have an adult conversation about it. One without shame or fear of reproach. There’s nothing wrong with sharing an idea and having your spouse say, “I don’t feel that would be healthy for us.” And so long as that feedback is given lovingly, it shouldn’t stop you from sharing other ideas in the future.
Lastly, there are those of us who just assume our spouse will shoot us down. Sometimes there’s a reason for this, based on history. Sometimes it’s just a fear of the unknown. If you don’t have a habit of talking about sex, it can be hard to ask for something sex related.
What can you do about it?
First, figure out what your fear is based on. If it’s due to your spouse’s views of sex, then perhaps you should go through a study like Intimacy Ignited. If it’s a worry of selfishness, or what they will think, or you’re just shy, then maybe take baby steps, like asking your spouse to kiss you somewhere innocuous (don’t start with the genitals, if that’s not a normal activity for you two!). That way you can gauge their reaction to your simple requests. Then you can escalate them and encourage your spouse to offer their own.
2. You’ve been exaggerating how good things feel
If you’ve been faking orgasms, or even just pleasure, just so your spouse will feel like they’re a good lover, then asking for something different might be difficult. Your spouse might wonder what changed, or why you no longer like what they’re doing.
What can you do about it?
My advice: Be honest. Yes, it might hurt initially, and it might cause some uncomfortable conflict. But, in the end, your marriage will be better for it. You cannot grow in intimacy while you are deceiving your spouse. Even if it’s with the best of intentions. Explain why you started exaggerating your pleasure. Was it because you were afraid of what they would think if you didn’t enjoy it? Were you trying to make them feel more confident? Explain the “why”, not as an excuse, but as a reason. It doesn’t make it okay, but it does help them understand where you’re coming from.
Yes, there is a risk, but there’s a greater potential reward to be had.
3. You don’t know what you want
This is particularly common for the low drive spouse, which, more often than not, is the wife. If you have little or no drive then you probably have not spent much time thinking about the possibilities. You’re also less likely to explore or ask your spouse to explore during sex.
It could also just be that you’re newly married and don’t yet know what feels good and what doesn’t. Or, you might have grown up being told that it doesn’t matter if it feels good, or worse, that if it feels good, then you’re sinning in some way. Christianity has often done a very bad job of equating physical pleasure to sin.
Or, for the women, you could be pregnant, or post-partum and suddenly what used to work doesn’t anymore, but you haven’t figured out what does work now. It could also be you’re getting older, and your hormone levels are changing, which affects what feels good and how much stimulation you need.
What can you do about it?
There’s nothing wrong with not knowing. It just means you get to do some exploring. But, you have to give your spouse permission to explore, and that might mean asking them just to try anything they want, within reason.
But, if you do that, you can’t get upset if they try something you don’t like. Doesn’t mean you have to accept what they want to try, but don’t get mad, unless it’s something that clearly they shouldn’t be asking for.
You could also play the “this or that” game. Basically, your spouse tries two different types of stimulation, and you choose which you like better. It’s an easy way of giving feedback while exploring new feelings.
4. You just can’t get it out in the moment
Sometimes you do know what you want, but in the moment, all those ideas go out of your head. Despite fantasizing and planning it, when the opportunity comes up, you draw a blank. This could be due to fear, or it could be simply that your brain is distracted and can’t think straight.
What can you do about it?
If you’re freezing due to fear, frustration, confusion, or anything else like that. Take a moment to explore those feelings. Why are they coming up? If you simply just forget in the moment, then write them down when they are top of mind. Send your spouse a sexy message saying what you want them to do to you later on. That way they can help remind you.
5. You think you shouldn’t have to say it out loud
Unfortunately, a lot of people think their spouses should be mind-readers. This is quite exceptional since they themselves don’t have that talent. But, it’s a human failing. We think that because we should treat others as we want to be treated, that that means that they automatically know how we want to be treated.
Of course, this is far from the truth. We each have our own opinions, preferences, beliefs and desires. We can not expect anyone to be able to assume what we want, even our spouse.
What can you do about it?
Speak up! You know sex is better when you give some sort of sign of what you like and don’t like. Take it a step further and verbalize your desires.
6. You think talking during sex is unromantic
I don’t mean “talking dirty“, but rather the logistics of sex. Saying things like “a little to the left” or “would you mind trying more of an anchor and drag movement rather than rubbing?” might not be the sexiest talk if delivered in a clinical or reproachful tone.
There’s no reason you can’t adjust your tone and vocabulary so that instructions can be given in an erotic/sexy/romantic manner. Erotic language is very sexy in the bedroom, so find a way to share what you want in a sexy way. Your speech doesn’t need to be clinical in order to be effective. In fact, more vulgar language between spouses in bed might add a bit of spice.
If you’re having trouble with this, check out our Introduction to Talking Dirty.
So, there you go. 6 reasons why you might not be asking for what you want. Which one fits you? Did I miss any?
9 thoughts on “How to ask for what you want in bed”
So I made a list and typed it up and printed it out and gave it to my wife. She blew up crying and yelling angrily at me. I never heard anything about the list ever again. It’s been years now. What did I do wrong? I’m thinking of bringing it up again and asking if everything on the list is outside of her boundaries. Mind you this is fairly mild stuff on my list.
Yeah…not the right way to go about it. That’s far too impersonal, like a shopping list. I can imagine she got upset.
That should have started with a conversation, not a list of demands (as she might have seen it).
Wow you summed up it all up.
You can fear your spouses reaction. They should have a heart of wanting to learn about there spouse. Telling your spouse your desires and fantasies without expectations of doing asap with them ease into in the act later
Your spouse needs to know what you desire. My wife to make her feel comfortable has asked me to share the stuff I like. I don’t share everyday. The point is 3 months from now when we’re out of town she says let’s do that slut thing you talked about.
Love how you give such awesome solutions to these problems. Talking during sex works out in everyone’s best interest for sure.
Sometimes it is because you are convinced you already know the answer will be no. Not that you fear it, you just don’t see the point in trying. Perhaps you’ve asked for it before and been turned down or they have said something earlier that indicated they had a negative view of something you would like.
Thing is, people change over time, and gently asking now and then (far apart enough to not feel like pressure) may over time open closed doors.
That is very true… There are things that 10-15 yrs ago my wife and I wouldn’t have ever considered trying that today we do enjoy because over the years we’ve grown closer, changed our personal views, experienced more of life together, and learned from each other that it’s OK to talk about things that you “might like to try” as long as it’s was OK for the other one to say No to if they’re uncomfortable with it. These kind of blogs have helped both of us to talk more about these kind of things over the past year and a half…
Thanks Jay! This post made me change my approach to a situation. My wife has been getting a little excited in bed and took the tip of my manhood and sucked it to the point of pain. Now I did not want to hurt her feelings and almost did not say anything, or lied, because I did not want her to quit. However, I decided instead to talk to her about it. I said, “that was uncomfortable.” She was surprised, and backed off. Well, instead of letting her feel bad, later on I took her nipple in my lips and showed her how I would appreciate being stimulated, Did it work? I hope so. Tonight is the first time that I will have a chance to find out. What do you think?