Not Satisfied? 10 Tips for Better Sexual Communication

A breakdown in intimacy is a leading cause of marital discord, says Danine Manette, infidelity expert and the author of The Ultimate Betrayal. And when sex is no longer satisfying, your relationship becomes vulnerable. Resentment, withdrawal, and unhappiness can settle in when the sex life sours.

But, once you learn how to talk with your partner about your sexual concerns, you both can start getting more out of your intimate moments, experts say. Talking about sex can be delicate but it doesn't have to be stressful. Follow these ten tips.

1. Have regular "chat time" about sex, Manette says. "It can happen during a weekly walk or any time the couple wants," she says. "This way, there is not so much apprehension bringing up what is a very sensitive topic."

2. To breach the topic of what you like during sex, try watching something erotic on TV with your partner. Then suggest, "Hey, maybe we could try that?"

3. Put in a request for what you like in a positive way, Manette says. "Tell him, 'I really love it when you (insert what you want.) Perhaps next time, you could try a little more (insert what you want) to go along with it.' "

4. Make use of gentle touch and eye contact, says Tina B. Tessina, Ph. D., author of Money, Sex and Kids. "You want to make your partner feel that he is understood and accepted," she says. "When this feeling is created, barriers fall and the connection is restored." It's then easier to talk with your partner about how to make sex better for both of you.

5. Write down your turn-ons, says Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., author of Make Up, Don't Break Up. Or suggest that you both write down what it was that turned you on when you first fell in love. "Tell your partner, I want do to those things again," Weil suggests. "You're telling your partner what you are grateful for and what you appreciate about him."  

6. Make suggestions for spicing up your sex life when you are already having intimacy, Weil says. "When you are already in bed, it's easy to say, 'I love it when you touch me here, or kiss my ear, or rub your hands through my hair,' " she says.

7. If you have trouble finding the time to be intimate, make a phone call to your partner in the middle of the day. Weil suggests telling him: "I was thinking of doing one of your turn-ons tonight, and this would be a good night to fulfill our fantasies."

8. Exchange a verbal aphrodisiac every day for 30 seconds, Weil says. Thank him for making you coffee, or for letting you sleep in. Let him know that these are things that make you feel sexy and cared for. "Once you are feeling sexy outside the bedroom, it's easy to feel sexy in the bedroom," Weil says. And when you're feeling sexy, it's easier to talk about matters relating to sexual satisfaction.

9. Develop "signals" between you that work, Tessina says. You may have a special light in the bedroom, and when it's lit, at least one of you is interested. Once you've established that a particular time is reserved for intimacy, you can put less energy into finding out if your partner even wants to have sex and more energy into determining what pleases both of you.

10. Choose carefully the time when you and your partner will talk about what you both like in the bedroom. Right before you go to bed, if you're both tired, is probably a less than ideal time. A perfect occasion would be "date night" when you're both feeling relaxed, open to suggestions, and in touch with each other's feelings.