How to Tell Your Husband What You Want in Bed

by | May 11, 2020 | Uncategorized | 16 comments

Merchandise is Here!

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!

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing?

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. 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!

How to tell your husband what you want in bed and what feels good--even if you're embarrassed!

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!

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

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 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!

6. Make him stay still 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 toan 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:

Telling your husband what you want in bed--sometimes it's easier to tell him in candlelight!

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

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!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Nathan

    Given that women are often taught that sex is for men, and that “nice girls” aren’t supposed to like it or want it, maybe husbands can help by assuring their wives that sexual intimacy is for both partners, and let her know that she should NEVER be afraid or shy to want something or to ask for something.

  2. OldManWinter

    I’m a man that has anxiety in this area. How would you suggest I handle this? Btw, I have been abused so I tend to feel that me desires are wrong and any insistent ideas are inherently wrong.

  3. Anonymous

    Some nice ideas here; thank you. Perhaps a good companion post would be what to do when one’s husband is unable to do what arouses his wife? For instance, due to disability.

    • Steve

      He could order her flowers.
      He could arrange for occasional housekeeping.
      He could arrange for dinner delivery.
      He could order sexy lingerie and talk her into it.
      He could dictate love letters and read them to her.
      He could sing her love songs.
      He could satisfy her orally.
      They could watch romantic movies.
      It’s attitude, respect, acts of love, words of affirmation, quality time, etc.

      • Anonymous

        Steve, I am talking specifically about a husband being unable to sexually arouse his wife, not being unable to have intercourse. My husband has autism. He is completely unintuitive, doesn’t pick up on or understand subtle non-verbal cues, doesn’t understand flirting, the fun and subtle process of building up sexual tension between two people. He really is so much like a bull in a china shop. I can easily turn him on, because overt sexuality turns him on. But he has no idea how to turn me on, and naturally does the opposite. He doesn’t touch me in the way I need to be touched to arouse me and bring me to orgasm, because he forgets what feels good to me and needs to be told and redirected over and over again each time and doesn’t seem to retain what he’s learned. He tries very hard and gets discouraged if I keep redirecting him, because he can see he’s not successful. When he’s discouraged, he’s like a sad puppy, which is a huge turn-off to me.He often touches me in mechanical ways that are more stimming or self-soothing to himself until I move his hand or remind him. For instance, if we have music playing, he’ll touch me in time with the music, although he tries hard to remember not to do that. He is socially-unaware, so he literally never thinks about how he looks or is coming across, which leads to body language that is a turn off to me. He has gained weight to the point of obesity and has poor posture and doesn’t carry his weight well. I have had to learn to manage his disability in ways that feel more like I’m his parent at times. For instance, setting and holding healthy boundaries, helping to settle conflicts calmly and respectfully, etc, exactly as I have to do with our kids with autism. I know he loves me, no doubt about it, and I can see that he is trying very hard and wants me to feel pleasure, and I love him and appreciate these things very much. And I have tried and will keep trying to do all the things to help myself overcome my physical aversions to him and put myself in the mood. It hasn’t worked so far. I still have never felt attracted to him sexually. It would hurt him terribly to hear that. So I don’t tell him. But I would love to know if others have overcome this problem, and if so, how.

  4. Elsie

    This article has some great ideas but it also assumes the problem is a technical one. I’ve been married for a few years now and sex originally was great for me and has become less satisfying emotionally over time. My husband was enthusiastic about it for the first year or so and then mostly lost interest. I tried for a while to initiate once a week and ensure we had regular sex but I eventually got tired of having the burden always be on my shoulders and now we only have sex once or twice a month. When we do, my husband often expects me to get everything started.
    Even though sex feels fine physically, it’s hard for me to get aroused and get into it when my husband isn’t that enthusiastic. It makes me feel insecure and wonder if my husband doesn’t think I’m attractive or doesn’t love me as much anymore. My husband has a chronic illness and a lot of work stress which I’m sure is playing a role. I try to be patient and understanding but I’m sad for what we are missing – we are both early in our marriage without kids and could be having a wonderful physical relationship but we aren’t. It’s also difficult for me to keep my own sex drive up when we have sex so infrequently.
    We’ve had multiple conversations about how I’d like to have sex more often and I’ve also suggested that we try to connect physically in other ways (like making out). I even bought your sexy dares which my husband seemed excited about but then we never did any. Whenever we have these conversations, my husband agrees with me about the importance of sex, but then in practice, he doesn’t initiate or partner with me to try to connect more often physically. It’s hard for me to know what else to say to him – I can’t make him be more interested in sex and that’s honestly what I need to make sex good for me. I also don’t want to make him feel like a failure or push him away. I’ve always been a sex-positive person and I bought into the lies that men want sex all the time so I assumed the sex in marriage would work out well for me. I never anticipated that my husband would have so little interest in sex and it seems like there are almost no resources out there for people in my situation.

    • Phil

      Elsie – my situation is not the same as yours but like you I am the one with the higher drive in the relationship. Can I correct you on something I have learned? There are resources out there for your situation. Thats why you are here. The main issue is that we cant control others. For you it is your husband. For me it is my wife. Just like you I have tried. For me my wife has responded in many ways so I am grateful. Recently we had a discussion where she made the statement that I drive/direct our sex life. This tells me where we are in our journey. There is still much work to be done. But at the end of the day if she doesn’t participate in the change then change wont happen. That is what I see in your situation. I dont know the answer. All I know is I keep trying. For me I reverse A lot of what is shared here and try to apply it. Sometimes I let up and give up for sometimes months. Right now I am on a renewed try. Today I sent her the link to this post. Will she read it? I dont know. She spent a good solid hour reading other things this morning and when I asked her if she got the link she said yes but I havent read it. You can only lead the horse to water. You cant make em drink it. Anyway I hope and pray for you and I am glad to be walking with you. Thanks for sharing your situation. For me It just helps to know someone else is walking the same similar walk. It gives me hope.

    • Broken

      May I just gently caution that everything you are describing can be a symptom of porn use. I lived the exact same story that you described above for decades. And only recently discovered my husbands very serious porn/masturbation addiction. I asked him numerous times through out marriage if he used porn, but he always lied to me. For the sake and longevity of your marriage I’d encourage you to have an honest conversation with your husband. Hopefully, he will be honest in return. I hope this is not your story!

  5. Emmy

    We really seem to live in a reversed universum. When I try to tell my husbnd what I would like it is him who becomes shy and gets the panic attack. Tried many of those things Sheila advised. Great advice but does not get us anywhere.
    However, the previous post on the real words on body parts resonated with me. I begint o think more and more that the problem lies in his childhood experiences. I sense a lot of shame. I believe I need to study this stuff more.
    I wish there was also A Good Boy’s Guide to Great Sex, but even if there was, I wonder if my husband would dare to read it. What he did read instead were books such as I Loved a Gilr or The Misunderstood Man by Walter Trobish. They are not helpful at all as far as talking openly about sex goes.

  6. Blessed Wife

    Number five, but with chocolate or honey instead of lipstick.

  7. Anonymous this time

    #2. The wife taking an active roll and being present. Thats the most important thing. Back when my wife and I engaged in sex years ago, she would just lie there. It was like she just wanted me to use her as a sex toy with no energy expended on her part. She just wanted to lie there and let it happen. From a male perspective, it was an erection killing turn off. She just didn’t know what to do.

  8. Tired wife

    So what do you do when you’ve tried these things and nothing changes? I’ve tried to explain and teach and direct and still it doesn’t feel good. We don’t have sex anymore bc it’s never satisfying for me.

  9. jeff

    what do you do when the band width of what she seems to like is about the thickness of a dime? and the husband really can’t touch anything but 1 tiny spot?

  10. Crystal

    Hello! I have been with my husband for 19 years & married for 13 of them (high school sweet hearts) with one child. I have been struggling with telling my husband what I like & what turns me on in bed. When I tell him I either get weird vibes after or told it’s weird when I talk like that. We have sex 1-2 a week so out of a month of sex I maybe orgasm 1 times if I’m lucky. I need more stimulation then he does(he orgasms every time which I’m happy about). I have been in tears with embarrassment & anxiety when I try to express or get shut down & very discouraged.
    Short story of our relationship. Been together since I was 16 & he was 17. I am one of those “good girls” that have pleasured my man for as long as our sex life has been in existence. I never really orgasmed I guess because I didn’t know what turned me on. So I always thought it was something wrong with me. Then, 3 years he had an affair which put a huge kink in our marriage and now we are in a better place but lacking in sex department. I feel I have been only one to initiate sex, pleasuring him in every way and when it comes to what I like or what turns me on i get the vibes I’m being selfish or feel too needy. I am to the point of giving up and just not worried about my own pleasure. It’s exhausting, not enjoyable and don’t feel attractive if I have to ask all the time or hint to him. I love pleasuring him and working hard to show him that I’ve forgave him but I have needs also.

  11. Grace Cephas

    Grace Cephas.
    My wife feels shy about fore play. She thinks it is totally silly and makes her feel so uncomfortable.She cannot stand it when i even try to move my hands around her body,it is the case with kissing and romance.She instead prefers going “direct to the point” which to me does not give a full sexual blast/experience since i can not last morethan 6 minutes before reaching orgasm leaving both of us more frastruated.
    I feel hurt and disturbed about the whole thing.Everytime i get to talk about the whole subject,she gets disgusted and turns me off.
    Dear counselor; What should i do??
    When i try to propel her into foreplay,she gets so rude and physically abusive such as pushing my hands off her, running out of the bed or just choosing to sit-up.
    We have been married for nearly 5 years.
    Are we not about to wreck our marriage???
    Kindly help. help.

  12. Felicity

    But, what if you don’t know what you like or want?


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