I grew up in the Church. I went to Christian schools too (well, my elementary education was Christ-like; looking back, the EEOC should've come in and shut my high school all the way down). Looking back, if there's one topic that never really got discussed in either setting, it's sex. It really is sad that although the Bible has PLENTY to say about it (Song of Solomon is an entire book about it!), in my humble opinion, far too many folks do the very opposite of what Genesis 2:24-25 instructs us not to do—they attach shame to nakedness. Sad. Very sad.
That's why, whenever I do premarital counseling couples, I tend to spend at least 3-4 weeks on sexual intimacy—what you were taught about sex, your views on sex, your expectations of sex, etc. Because if you're gonna actually do what you vowed and remain with someone until death parts you, that's a REALLY LONG TIME to be sittin' somewhere sexually pissed off at least half of the time.
And yet. It happens. A LOT. Not just to couples who waited until marriage to partake, but people who felt they should "test the car before driving it too" (I'm with Meagan Good on this one—we need to drop that comparison; people are not cars). And since the importance of sex isn't explored as in-depth as it needs to be, lots of people find themselves faking it, making excuses not to do it or…yes, cheating. And you know what? All three of those approaches to sexual incompatibility are unhealthy and super counterproductive. They really are.
So, what do I recommend you should do if you and your spouse aren't as sexually harmonious as you'd like to be? For starters, consider that what's really going on may not be as much about sex as you might think. It could be a myriad of things that have created your not-so-perfect storm.
How To Deal With A Sexually Incompatible Partner
1.Ponder If It's Sexual or Emotional
There's a couple I worked with where the husband hated to give oral sex but was all about receiving it. On the surface, this is childish and selfish, I'll give you that. But counseling is about digging beneath the surface. That said, his wife misspends money, makes major decisions without his input, plays the victim when she's called out on her reckless behavior and rarely apologizes for any of this. As a result, he feels like she also is a very selfish individual (he's right), so he doesn't want to give her his all. Naturally, he's not big on cunnilingus; however, he doesn't even feel the desire to "make the sacrifice" because of how put off he is emotionally.
Do you see how, on the surface, it looks like they aren't on the same page when it comes to a particular sex act when the reality is there is a profound emotional disconnection? Whatever it is that you and your spouse are struggling with in the bedroom, don't just assume that it's sexual or physical. Sometimes, there's a deep emotional issue going on too.
2.Next, Figure Out If It's Actually About Sex or Selfishness
A lot of people frown on couples who wait until marriage to get it on, but here's something to keep in mind. When you're single and sexually active, whether you realize it or not, you tend to be pretty selfish. I'm not saying when it comes to your stamina, technique or tricks. I'm talking about your overall mentality. Single sex is about having sex solely on your terms. Married sex requires considering someone else and making compromises along the way.
Here's an example. Say that you love morning sex while your spouse prefers to have sex at night. Did you know that science is discovering that a part of what makes us morning people or night owls has to do with our genetic make-up? When you were single, you had sex when you felt like it; your partner(s) had to get in where they fit in.
Now that you're married, it's important to take your partner's needs into account.
If you like it in the morning, sometimes you might have to stay up late because they don't. If you're a night owl, sometimes you might need to sleep a couple of extra hours in order to get the job done before work. My point is this—whatever isn't happening the way that you would like, how much of it is about you wanting sex just the way you want it without figuring out if it pleases your partner or not? What some think is sexual incompatibility is really nothing short of 100 percent Grade-A selfishness. Real talk.
3.Openly Discuss How You Feel with Your Spouse
There are a lot of couples who end up throwing in the towel because they are sexually dissatisfied. That might sound shallow to some, but if there is only one person that you're supposed to have sex with for the rest of your life, GOOD SEX is important. Here's the thing, though. Something that tops the list of why spouses divorce isn't sexual incompatibility or frustration; no, it's poor communication.
I can't tell you how many couples I've worked with who are M-A-D at their spouse for not being able to read their mind as far as what their needs are in the bedroom. Their spouse should know they're bored. Their spouse should know that they are not satisfied. Their spouse should know they are faking orgasms (actually, if someone is really paying attention to their partner, they should know this one).
We all know what they say that assuming does to a person. Well, "should" is assumption's favorite girlfriend. It's not fair to be upset about something you're not talking about. Oh, and by the way, discussing it doesn't mean blaming, humiliating or berating your partner. The brain is the biggest sex organ we have. You're going to do NOTHING for your sex life by belittling your partner in the effort to get more of what you want and need from them. (This applies to what's happening in the bedroom and out of it.)
4.Also, Be VERY CAREFUL Who You Share Your Issues With
I can't remember who originated the quote, but one of my favorites is, "Complain to someone who can actually help you." To be at work or on the phone with someone who also has a less-than-stellar sex life isn't going to help you to take a more positive and proactive approach to what's happening in your own bedroom. All it's going to do is encourage you to be even more negative about your situation. Also, based on who you're talking to (and how often), it might set you up to be caught up in an emotional affair as well.
There's something else to consider when you're discussing your bedroom issues—just because you're dissatisfied doesn't mean the next gal would be. Make sure you're talking to someone who is genuinely being helpful…not just nosey. And ultimately, messy.
5.Make Sex a Higher Priority in Your Relationship
Another couple that I've worked with? They've been married for over a decade, the husband is headed towards his late 40s, and he still prefers to have sex 3-4 times a day (quickies included). His wife? She's good with having it a couple of times a month. Yep, sexually incompatible.
Some might wonder how they even jumped the broom with an issue like this not being addressed. Oh, but this is another example of how having sex before marriage can creep up on you. When they were dating, it was a long-distance relationship. So, of course, they could have sex for hours on end whenever they saw one another. But once they got married and saw each other every day, things changed. It reminds me of a hilarious comedy clip that I recently watched entitled, "Real Couples Don't Hold Each Other All Night".
Sometimes sex before marriage falsely advertises in ways we wouldn't predict.
What did I recommend that they do? Make sex a priority in their marriage; not just the physical aspect but the emotional and spiritual too. While she needed to be open to having sex more often, her husband needed to think about what he could do to make his wife desire him more from an emotional and spiritual standpoint.
Sometimes spouses aren't sexually compatible because they don't feel close enough to their partner to want to do certain things or have sex more often. Sometimes, when the other rooms of the house are handled (metaphorically speaking), the bedroom takes care of itself.
6.Put a "Sexual Needs Box" on Each Nightstand
A lot of us make relationships a lot more complicated than they have to be because we act like a want is an actual need.
Wants are what we desire; needs are what is required.
Am I saying that sex is not a need? I am saying the total opposite of that! Even the Bible says that if you withhold from your partner, you can open the doors to all sorts of mayhem and foolishness (I Corinthians 7:1-5). From a legal standpoint, some states will let you have what is called a "fault divorce". Things that fall under this category are constructive desertion, cruelty or abandonment based on a lack of marital relations (sex).
However, sex is a pretty general word. In order to have great sex with your partner, it's important to also discuss what both of your wants and needs are. What are y'all's desires vs. what is required for you to feel fully satisfied (essential)? Talk those things out, jot them down on sheets of paper, pick up a couple of boxes from Target or Pottery Barn and put those answers inside. Your answer box should go on your husband's nightstand; his should go on yours. Then make it a point to revisit what is on those sheets of paper and mutually commit to meeting one another's needs (more often).
Even if your spouse isn't the perfect sex partner, a part of what your love commitment is all about is meeting each other's needs—in the bedroom or out. If you're both determined to do that, you have a lifetime to learn how to make each other climb the walls; to make sexual incompatibility a temporary issue, not a lifelong sentence.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports