Listen, I don't care how long you've been with someone, one of the biggest mistakes that you can ever make (and unfortunately, people do it all of the time) is assume that you know them so well that there is no need to ask them to share their thoughts. I don't care what the topic is. Including sex. For one thing, it takes literally a lifetime to really get to know someone on a profoundly intimate level. A part of the reason why is, if we're doing this life thing correctly, we're going to shift…evolve…change.
That's why I'm always down for married couples pouring themselves a glass of wine, putting on some soft music and asking themselves where they stand with each other when it comes to sex — so that both individuals can gain clarity. So that specific needs can be met. So that everyone involved can feel fully satisfied.
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for this platform entitled, "9 Sex-Related Questions You & Your Partner Should Ask Each Other. Tonight." While some of the questions are a little similar, where the following eight differ is it's more about getting into the psyche of your partner than inquiring about the act of sex itself. Because since it's long been said that the brain is the biggest sex organ that there is, when two people are on the same page on a mental level, the physical pleasure, more times than not, will come.
1. Do You Think Sex Was Better Before We Got Married or Now?
OK, while virginity is not quite the rainbow unicorn that so many people (and the media) make it out to be, I totally believe the stats that say around 90 percent of folks have had sex prior to marriage. If you add to that the reality that, as I've shared before, something that almost all of the married couples I've worked with have in common is the fact that they've had sex with one another prior to jumping the broom, this first question would not only be a fair one but a super realistic one as well. In fact, one of the complaints that I hear a lot from husbands is sex isn't as frequent as when they were just dating their partner while wives oftentimes say it's not as romantic or intimate. The sad part is, many times, this stuff doesn't come up until a therapist/counselor/life coach asks about it; this means tons of couples are out here internalizing their frustration which is never good when it comes to cultivating a healthy and longstanding sex life.
That's why I definitely think it's important for married couples to ask each other if they thought their sex life — again, with one another — was better before they got married or after. If the answer is "before", the next step is that they hear each other out as to why.
Because let's be real here — a lot of husbands and wives get pretty lazy when it comes to sex after saying "I do". The mentality is kind of "I have you now, so I don't have to put in as much effort" when, really, that couldn't be further from the truth. When someone makes the decision to be with you for the rest of their lives and have sex with only you, that's not the time to get careless, apathetic, idle, inattentive or passive. That is when you REALLY need to step your game up and make sure that your partner is fulfilled and satisfied — for the long haul.
2. Do You Feel Like We Make Sex a Priority?
Y'all, let me apologize in advance for not recalling where I saw this video of a Black married couple where the wife said that she wasn't "giving it up" nearly as much as she did when she and her husband were dating because — and I quote — "It was more of a priority to me then." What in the world, girl? Any time I hear a married person — and I'm gonna be honest, it's usually a wife — say something along those lines, I don't know whether to be mad at their parents, their religious upbringing or their friends who probably spew out that same kind of nonsense because sex is DEFINITELY to be a marital priority. As I say often, even the Bible says that the ONLY time sex should not transpire between a husband and wife is when they have mutually agreed to pray and fast; otherwise, they are asking for all kinds of drama (I Corinthians 7:5).
While there are a lot of different ways to define a priority, my favorite is probably "the right to precede others in order, rank, privilege, etc.; precedence". Yes, sex is supposed to "pull rank" on a lot of things because it is an act that you should only be having with your partner; one that cultivates oneness and intimacy like nothing else can. Listen, if you can prioritize your favorite trash reality show, two hours to scroll through Instagram and time to gossip with your friends on the phone, you can definitely treat sex with your spouse as an act of great privilege. Do you? Ask your husband what he thinks.
3. Have Your Sexual Needs Changed?
A quote that I have shared before is one by a late humor columnist by the name of Richard J. Needham. He once said, "You don't marry one person; you marry three: the person you think they are, the person they are, and the person they are going to become as the result of being." So wise, so wise. And here's the thing — a lot of people get divorced, not because anything "bad" happened; it's because they did not prepare themselves for learning how to be flexible enough to handle their spouse's changes…as they change. This can include the bedroom.
There's a married couple that I know who've been sexually unhealthy, shoot, for more than half of their 20-year marriage. A big part of it is because the bang-bang-bang sex that they both used to enjoy, the wife has now "shifted out of" while the husband refuses to accept this as being a part of their new normal. He doesn't want to compromise which makes her not want to have sex at all which now has them out here, basically sexless (check out "What You Should Do If You Find Yourself In A Sexless Marriage" and "7 Signs You're In A 'Sex Rut' & How To Get Out Of It"). Not good. Not good.
The things that you may have been interested in or down for in your 20s may be very different once you hit your 40s. The way you view sex (check out "How Your Man Can Adjust To Your 'Sexual Growth Spurts'") could be totally different. When this is the case, your sexual needs may no longer be the same. Sometimes partners don't share this with one another because they are concerned about how their spouse will feel; however, it's better to be forthcoming and honest than to hold things in and eventually become resentful because the sex you're having isn't really the kind of sex you're desiring…anymore.
4. Do You Still Feel Emotionally and Spiritually Connected to Me?
When two people feel connected on an emotional and spiritual level, it's hard for intimacy to not be fulfilling on a myriad of different levels. And what are the signs that this is indeed the case? If y'all have read my relationship-related content on this site long enough, you know that I'm a huge fan of the presence of emotional safety between two people (check out "This Is How To Feel Emotionally Safe In Your Relationship") which includes feeling really seen and heard and knowing that you can rely on your partner for encouragement and support. As far as a solid spiritual connection goes (check out "7 Signs You're Spiritually Compatible With Someone"), it's literally about two spirits being in sync — laughing together, feeling free-to-be in each other's presence, understanding that the mutual respect is strong (check out "7 Signs That You Truly Respect Your Spouse (& Your Marriage)"), having conversations are meaningful and, for the most part, believing that you both share the same values and desires for the future.
Even if the two of you were super connected on your wedding day or even a month ago, sometimes life can get in the way and cause there to be some "static in the lines". Almost every married person knows what it's like to be in the midst of having sex with their partner and then feel like their spouse isn't totally present in the moment. If that's what you've been experiencing lately, there's a chance that your hubby either has taken notice or feels the same way. Talking about where you both are emotionally and spiritually can, interestingly enough, cultivate more of an emotional and spiritual bond. So, don't hesitate to do it.
5. Are We Still Having Sex for the Right Reasons?
It might sound odd at first yet, even when it comes to marital intimacy, there is such a thing as doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. And what could be the wrong reason when it comes to why you choose to have sex with your spouse? Two that immediately come to mind is you want to shut them up or you use it as a way to deflect from other issues (check out "Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good"). Remember when I said that sex should be a priority in marriage? I absolutely meant that. But if it feels more like an obligation or a chore, that is not how it should be for you. So, if there is some level of codependency or it feels more like a burden to you yet you are doing it anyway to keep your partner happy, at the very least, bring this to their attention. If you can't find a solution together, consider going to couple's therapy/counseling. You deserve to enjoy sex not just "have" it. And if you're married to a truly good man, he will wholeheartedly agree.
6. Do You Think I Initiate Enough?
OK, so I don't know if this is gonna be a "duh" for y'all or not but there are quite a few studies out here that state couples who have more sex have one particular thing in common — the woman initiates more. No, not more than men. What it means is she makes a point to initiate, period. While we're here, I bet you also won't gasp at the fact that a top complaint that a lot of husbands give me as it relates to sex is they feel like they are the one who makes the first move, most of the time. When I look across at the wife and ask her why, I usually hear something along the lines of, "I don't really think about sex until he brings it up" or "I'm just used to him doing it."
No one feels wanted and desired if their partner isn't making them feel that way. Initiating sex is just one way to make that happen. I'm telling you that it can be super enlightening to ask your partner if you initiate sex enough and then wait — without getting defensive — for their answer. Once they give it to you, be open to asking why they feel that way as well. That answer right there could take your sex life to a whole 'nother level…if you stay open to it.
7. What Do You Wish I Would Do More Often?
You know what I roll my eyes about often? This ridiculous notion that certain acts should only happen on special occasions. What in the world? For one thing, tomorrow is not promised, so if folks only get to experience certain positions or activities on holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, that means y'all are being super presumptuous about the gift of time. Not only that but, just imagine how many more married couples would be fully sexually satisfied if their partner was all about trying new things, checking off sex-themed bucket lists and making every time feel like the first time as much as possible. Sometimes, we don't know what our partner's favorite thing is unless we ask them. And I promise you, that you will see nothing short of a Cheshire cat (in the best way possible, of course) when you do.
8. How Can We Get (or Stay) in Sync?
In sync. I like that term a lot. One definition of it is "they match or happen together as they should". As we bring this to a close, it can never hurt to ask your man if he feels like, when it comes to bedroom activity, that things happen together as they should. If he says "yes", follow that up with what does he think you both can do to make it stay that way because things like tight schedules, kids, busy weekends, flip-flop sleeping patterns and doing everything at night BUT gettin' some can definitely cause you to get all out of sync, if you're not careful.
At the end of the day, a healthy relationship is about clear and consistent communication and sex is one of the most intimate — and pleasurable — forms of communication that there is. These eight questions are not about interrogating, being hypercritical or passing judgment or blame. It's about learning how to communicate better…so that you can communicate better. Now get off of here, so y'all can have a lil' chat. #wink
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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. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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