Most couples think sex is a pretty big deal, and rightfully so. In fact, problems surrounding sex and affection are some of the more common issues that couples face. We know that it’s a sensitive subject, but it doesn’t have to be!

Communicating about sex and intimacy is something we’ve stressed in the past. Every couple should make a point to be open and honest about what’s going on in the bedroom – what they like and what they don’t.

Dr. Dana even says in her book: “Don't wait to talk about sex till you're in the bedroom. In fact, it’s a bad idea to ever talk about sex while you're in the bedroom. But it's imperative that you have many open and loving conversations about sex where you take what that other person says at face value.”

So talking about sex is important, but what else can you do to improve your sex life?

This may sound crazy, but lighten up a little!

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Every couple should make a point to be open and honest about what’s going on in the bedroom.

This means two things:

1. Changing your perception of what sex is supposed to be and how affection functions in your relationship.

2. Allowing your sex life (and the rest of the affectionate behavior in your marriage) to be more playful, open, and generally less stressful all around!

Let’s start with #1. There’s a lot more to sex than intercourse, plain and simple. If you think back to the early stages of your relationship, you’ll probably remember a time when you just couldn’t get enough of each other’s company, as well as a whole range of affectionate behavior that wasn’t necessarily intercourse. What about kissing? Cuddling? All of the other fun things that can happen in the bedroom (or anywhere else)?

All of it can fall under the category of “sex” if you let it, and each can be enjoyable in its own way – a kiss doesn’t necessarily have to lead to intercourse. It can, of course, but if you start to base your expectations around it, it’s a recipe for feelings of guilt and disappointment when it doesn’t. You can let each encounter be its own, without having predetermined assumptions about what’s “supposed” to happen. Enjoying each touch, kiss, etc. in the moment is a way to both strengthen intimacy with your spouse, and rekindle an interest in all the nuances of affection and lovemaking.

Each act of affection should be about two things – expressing love and sharing pleasure. If you’re experiencing trouble connecting, maybe it’s time to get back to basics – work on kissing! If you and your partner can share a passionate kiss simply for the sake of expressing your love, without feeling the need to take it any farther, you’re on the right track to both improving intimacy and breaking the cycle of sexual expectations.

Now, when it comes to being more open and playful in your sex life, I don’t necessarily mean breaking out the toys and costumes (unless you want to, of course!). Instead, I mean not taking sex so personally or putting so much weight on every encounter. Far too often, couples get wrapped up in a sense of what “should” be happening – and out if this, we get the typical problems: “she doesn’t show me affection,” or “all he wants is sex” – we are making assumptions about our spouses without taking the time to talk to them about it.

What we perceive to be happening doesn’t always align with our spouse’s intentions, and this lack of communication leads to men feeling neglected, women feeling used, frustration about who’s initiating what (not to mention where and when), disappointment, and on and on…

If you can take a step back from your expectations and see the range of sexual experiences for what they are, and take a moment to remember that it’s supposed to be fun, it is likely that the stress will melt away.

For more tips on improving your sex life, talking about sex with your partner, and more, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

What’s your take on this “touchy” subject? Please comment below…

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com