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How To Tell Your Spouse What You Want In Bed

How do you tell your husband what you want in bed?

It’s a scary thing, isn’t it? You have to be vulnerable and actually share something intensely personal. Here’s a letter I received from a reader:

Reader Question

My husband and I can talk about almost anything. It’s wonderful! But when it comes to needing to discuss things like sex, and telling him what I like or showing him I get so shy and nervous I get on the borderline of having a panic attack. I know now that I should tell him and ask him instead of just going along with whatever. But I’m so extremely shy about talking to him about it. A lot of little things bring me to the point of an anxiety attack, like the thought of doing it in the light, or him seeing my face with or without light or even me seeing his, (I’m also insecure about the way I react when I orgasm, I feel like I don’t react right, it’s hard to explain). How do I get over my shyness?

Great question, and a super common one that women face. After doing our surveys of 22,000 women earlier this year in preparation for writing The Great Sex Rescue, we found a lot of women who would be able to sympathize with what she’s going through. They feel really close in every other area of their relationship, but when it comes to sex, it’s hard to open up.

I think the root of this comes from two beliefs that we internalized:

We mistakenly believe:

  • Sex is mostly for men, and so their experience matters most. If we try to ask for something, then we’re being selfish.
  • Sex is something that “proper” girls don’t think about or talk about. If we want something, then we’re not really a “good girl”.

It’s very, very hard to get over those beliefs.

If you’re struggling with either of these, please read The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex! I explain what God made sex to be, and how it was created totally for you, too. Sex is not just for him, or even primarily for him. It’s for you to feel great and feel close to him as well.

And sex is not something shameful. There’s actually something rather “hot and holy” about sex, all at the same time. So relax if you can and read this!


Okay, now let’s get back to the question at hand: how do you tell your husband what you want in bed?

Picture this scenario: your wedding night is here–all that hopeful bliss you’ve been promised your whole life. And, whether you’re a virgin or not, the earth doesn’t really move. You think to yourself, “is this all there is?” But you don’t say anything, because you don’t want to wreck your guy’s pride, after all. And then the honeymoon goes on, and the earth still doesn’t move, and you still don’t say anything because you secretly wonder if something’s wrong with you. He’s enjoying himself; why aren’t you?

Weeks go by. Then months. Maybe even years. You still find it hard to reach orgasm–or even to feel much pleasure. And you’ve never really told him, “I actually don’t like it when you touch my breasts like that. It’s too rough”, or “I really need you to pay more attention for longer to my clitoris before intercourse–but not so hard,” or “I’d actually like to try another position.” You’ve never said any of these things. And now you’re scared to, because if you do, isn’t it like saying, “we’ve been doing it wrong this whole time”?

I don’t think so, for two reasons. First, the vast majority of men honestly want to please their wives in bed. Their pleasure is largely dependent on our pleasure. When we’re not having that much fun, they know, and it makes sex less exciting and a little disappointing to them, too. So they’d likely love some tips on how to make sex fun!

But more importantly, when you start sharing what you want, you open up to your husband. You become more sexual. And that’s sexy, in and of itself! When we’re honest, especially about something so personal, we will feel closer, and that makes sex hotter, too!

So today I’d like to share 10 ways, from easy to more challenging, to tell him what you want in bed – and to feel more adventurous!

I first ran this post a few years ago, but I wanted to update it and run it again because it’s an important one!

1. When he touches somewhere good, make sure he knows!

Moan a lot. Seriously. Say, “oh, yes, that’s wonderful”, or “right there, baby”. If you’re too shy to actually say, “I want you to do X”, then make sure that every time he comes anywhere near doing X, you moan and give him some positive reinforcement in bed!

2. Guide his hand (or whatever else!)

Can’t say it out loud? Do a mime performance. Take his hand (or whatever else) and show him where you want to be touched. Be active! Don’t just lie there and let HIM make love to YOU; be an active participant and make things happen.

3. Be the one in control in bed

Taking #2 a step further, if you’re the one initiating sex and running things, you can often make them go the way you want them to. So if you’re the one who starts making love, and you start rubbing against him, or climbing on top and changing things so the angle is just right, or taking his hand and showing him, that can work well, too. And then he knows more what turns you on when he sees the effect it’s having!

4. Play teacher

Decide that tonight you’re going to play “teacher”, where you instruct him for 15 minutes on what he’s doing, and he only gets his “prize” if he “passes”. This can be a fun one, because you can tell him, “not so rough”, or “slower”, or “more circles”, or whatever it may be. If you’re playing a teacher, then it is not always as intimidating. This often works well if you BOTH have a chance. You be teacher one night and he can be teacher the next night.

These scenarios where you’re the one in control are often easier for women who have sexual abuse in their background, too. It can be easier to let down your defences when you know that nothing will happen in bed that you don’t want or haven’t asked for specifically.

5. Take lipstick and draw a treasure map where you want some attention

Want him to spend more time on foreplay and more time in certain areas? Take a lipstick and draw a treasure map on yourself. Start with 1 and work your way up to number 10, and he has to “connect the dots”, spending at LEAST a minute on each number. If you have a difficult time actually vocalizing what you want, giving him a map may make it easier!

Read Next on Thriving Marriages  My Husband Won't Touch Me ... Now What?

6. Make him stay still in bed and experiment with him

Sometimes we just don’t know what we want. We’re not sure what feels good. Using his body with the expectation that you will set the agenda can help you explore more without worrying that he’d rather just “get on with things”. So set the timer for 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, or however long you want and come to an agreement with him that under no circumstances is he to move–or even talk. If you get nervous about what he’s thinking or that he may not respect you or that he may think foreplay is silly, then having him talk can also get your anxiety level up again. But if he’s not allowed to move or say anything and you can just use any part of him that you want, then this can be much easier (you can tell him he can move his mouth if you put something there, for instance). But this lets you explore his body and figure out what you like about it, too.

Often when we make love we rush through, and then we don’t always figure out what’s really fun. Take the time to figure out what you actually like!

7. Show him what feels good yourself

This one takes some courage, and not everyone is comfortable doing it. But the vast majority of men really do enjoy it. Show him how you want to be touched by touching yourself. I’m not talking about full-blown masturbation here, truly. It’s just that if you can show him how you want him to touch you, then he may “get” it a little bit better.

Okay, those are 7 tips for helping him pay more attention to the parts of your body that want attention, in the way that it wants attention. But what if there’s more–what if you’d like to try something else, or you want to try a new position, or whatever? Read some of my posts on setting boundaries and what’s good and healthy in marriage and what’s not (you can see a bunch of posts listed under the right heading on my post with a summary of marriage advice), and then try these three things:

Bathtub Candlelight - How to Tell Your Husband What You Want in Bed

8. Sit in a bathtub with candlelight and talk to him about what you want sexually

If you want something but you don’t know how to tell him, here’s one way: sit in a bathtub together “spooning” so that you’re not looking at his face. Use candles so there’s no much light. Then try telling him. Don’t like the bath idea? Try in bed, in the dark, with him hugging you while you’re facing away. The three key ingredients here are: physical contact, so you feel accepted; little light, so you’re not as self-conscious; and not looking into his face so you’re not worried as much about what he’s thinking.

You can also make this easier by having him share something, too, so it’s not only you opening up.

9. Write down some new things you’d like to try in bed

Another version of the above: Write down 3-4 things you’d like to try on small slips of paper, and have him do the same thing. Put your papers in an envelope and his in an envelope, and every few weeks one of you draws out a piece of paper and you do what it says. That way you’re each trying what the other person wants.

Again, if you have reservations about something, read what I wrote about deciding what’s okay to do in bed. You never have to do anything that you feel is degrading, sinful, or dangerous. But sometimes it’s nice to spice things up!

When we’re honest, especially about something so personal, we will feel closer, and that makes sex hotter, too!


10. Leave some lingerie somewhere he can find it–with a note

Finally, this one isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you’ve been opening up with your husband more and telling him what you’d like, you’re likely finding that he isn’t taking it as an insult. He’s probably really excited about this turn in your relationship! So add to the fun by letting him know what’s coming. Leave him notes about what you want to do tonight in bed, or, even better, hide a piece of lingerie that you haven’t worn in a while (or a new item if you have the money) somewhere where he’ll find it, along with a note. Don’t put it in a place where he’d discover it with others there–like in his briefcase. But you can put it in a pocket, in his underwear drawer, in the passenger side of his car to see when he drives off to work, etc.

I guarantee most husbands would love it if their wives opened up and did more things like this. And if #9 and #10 are too much, that’s okay. Start with #1 and #2, and move you way down as you get more comfortable.

It takes a while to feel comfortable in our own skin with our husbands. For some of us it takes years! But the more honest we can be, the more fun we’ll find sex is, and the more intimate and close we’ll feel because we’re truly revealing a precious piece of ourselves–what makes us passionate and excited.

If you’re really struggling with full blown panic attacks, read The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and try to talk to your husband about it. Tell him what some of your roadblocks are. But then, please realize: you were created to enjoy sex. This is meant for you. Don’t let old beliefs that aren’t even right steal what God meant to be great. Start super small, with #1, and then see if you can work your way up as you gain more confidence.

So try telling your husband what you want in bed–and see what it does for your marriage!

And let me know: How do you get over feeling so shy and having those panic attacks? I’d like to write a whole post on that soon, too, so let me know your tips for learning to see sex in a healthy way!