Top 10 Tips for Initiating Sex with Your Husband

by | Jul 8, 2020 | Sexual Intimacy | 24 comments

Initiating Sex With Your Husband

Out of the last five times you’ve made love, how many times have you initiated sex with your husband, and how many has he been the one to initiate?

If you say he’s initiated all 5, that could be a problem!

Now, I know sometimes you just start making love because you’re kissing and snuggling, and it’s not clear WHO initiated. It just happened (all the more reason to go to bed at the same time, so that things can “just happen”!). And sometimes he has a really low sex drive, and so the whole initiation pattern is thrown off.

But quite often we get into this rut where he wants sex more than you do, and so he’s the one who always initiates making love. And you’re not even sure how to initiate sex with him, because you’ve never really done it! When I was researching my book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I did surveys and interviewed both men and women. And here’s what one guy said about sex:

Men don’t want to be placated; they want to be wanted.

But what if you’re just not comfortable initiating sex with your husband? That’s what this woman asks:

My husband tells me I should initiate sex more, but I literally don’t know what to do. I think about it during the day, and how I should start initiating tonight, but when tonight comes, I freeze up and feel stupid, like I’m going to do the wrong thing, and really awkward.

I grew up where we just didn’t talk about sex, and I do have a difficult time talking about it and telling my husband what I want. He’s really patient with me and he makes sex feel great, and I am starting to orgasm, but I’m still just stuck and I feel paralyzed and stupid. Any suggestions?

I’m sure she’s not alone. Lots of us feel awkward. Or else maybe we’re just comfortable with the way things are, and we don’t know how to switch it up.

Then I had another woman write me in with this question:

I worked through 31 Days to Great Sex with my husband last year, and we decided I have to initiate sex more. But I honestly hardly ever think about it spontaneously, and then when I do, it seems like it’s forced. How can I just make it natural?

One of my most popular posts for years was on 10 ways to initiate, but I still get so many questions about it. I’d like to rerun it today with a few updates as I’ve had time to think about this more!

So here we go: 10 tips on how to initiate sex with your husband

–and help your husband feel like the most blessed man in the world!

1. DO Show Enthusiasm

Initiating sex requires enthusiasm–and I know that can feel awkward. But when we try to initiate without enthusiasm it comes off as rather off-putting. The following, for instance, do NOT count as initiating sex:

  • (Lying in bed, arms crossed. Turning head towards him). We can if you wanna.
  • (Standing at the bottom of the stairs, heading up to bed). I’m heading to bed. If you come up within the next 10 minutes we may still have time, I guess.
  • (Lying in bed, looking at the ceiling). So, I shaved my legs today.
  • (Lying in bed, arms crossed). So…I guess we’re due, eh?

(Sorry, that’s the Canadian coming out in me in the last one). If you’re going to initiate, the first step is NOT telling him “do you wanna?” The first step is getting in the right frame of mind for sex so that you’re enthusiastic about it, too!

But here’s just a heads up for the guys reading this: sometimes when women cross their arms and say, “we can if you wanna”, it’s not because they’re just doing this out of duty and they don’t really want to. It might honestly be because they just feel so awkward that they’re tensing up. So don’t interpret it as always “duty sex”!

2. DON’T Overthink It

Why don’t we initiate sex? Because often as soon as the thought pops into our heads we talk ourselves out of it.

Do I want to tonight? Well, I don’t know. It is kind of late, and I do need my sleep. And he wasn’t very nice to me tonight. He hardly hugged me when he came home from work. I just feel so distant right now. I can’t make love if we’re distant, can I? Wouldn’t that be deceptive? And what if the kids wake up? And what if….

Why don’t we initiate more? Because all these thoughts stop us!

So turn it off! Seriously. When you get the thought, pounce on it (and pounce on HIM, too!) Start kissing him. Let your hands wander pretty much immediately (seriously–women don’t like guys to GO FOR IT right away, so we often assume men need the lead up, too. They don’t. Just zero in!). Don’t second guess yourself. You’ll be happier later–and you’ll likely sleep better, too!

3. DON’T Be Embarrassed

“Good girls don’t like sex.”

Did you grow up thinking that? If you grew up thinking that only boys wanted sex, and girls just acquiesced, then you may think that it’s your role to sit back and just respond to him. Anything else somehow upsets the apple cart. That seems to be what our first letter writer is experiencing.

But good girls DO want sex! God gave us sex drives, too. And inside marriage sex is supposed to be a wonderful thing for both of you! Think about it this way: This is the only man on earth who can touch you like that. He’s the only man on earth who really truly knows you. You don’t need to be embarrassed around him. I know that can be a hard transition to make. But practice little things, like saying to him the morning after you made love, “I had fun last night”, or “you made me feel great!” Practice talking about it afterwards, and it makes it easier to talk about it beforehand! So saunter up to him and whisper in his ear, “do you want me to drive you crazy tonight?” He’ll get the message.

You may also enjoy:


Are you TIRED of always being too tired for sex?

Woman jumping into bed with husband

Do you yearn to actually WANT to make love–and figure out what all the fuss is about?

There is a way! And in this 10-module course I take you through what libido is (it may surprise you!), what affects libido, and how we can reclaim the excitement that God made us for.

4. DON’T Beat Around the Bush

But remember: If you’re too embarrassed to be that direct, or if you’re embarrassed about saying, “do you want to make love tonight?”, then you may not give clear enough signals.

My husband was leaving for a business trip for a week recently, and he was spending the morning before he was picked up sorting papers and paying bills and getting some tasks done around the house. I kept getting up from my computer whenever he got up from his and walking over and seeing if I could get him interested in something, but I never let him know what I was doing. I thought he was just busy and wasn’t interested. But after following him around like a puppy dog for an hour, he finally turned to me and said, “are you okay?”, and I said, “I just thought we could go upstairs for some fun before you left.”

He jumped on board immediately!

I had thought he was busy and was rejecting me, but he just really didn’t know what I was getting at. Men are usually afraid of getting rejected, and if he tends to have the higher sex drive in your marriage, he may have conditioned himself to never think about it, or to try not to assume you’re going somewhere, because he doesn’t want to get his hopes up. Subtlety, then, isn’t a good thing. Be obvious. It’s easier on everyone!

5. DO Use Your Hands

Don’t like talking about sex? Feel super awkward trying to say something sexy to start?

You don’t have to. Come up behind him, wrap your arms around him, start nibbling his ear, and let your hands wander. Watching a movie? Rest your hand in a creative place. And again–don’t beat around the bush. Put your hand EXACTLY where you know he wants it. Or lead him to the bedroom–but not with HIS hand. You can get things going without saying any words, if the words make you shy. Just do it!

 6. DO Be Creative

Initiating sex can start earlier in the day. You can text him at work (“You’re in for it tonight!”). You can get dressed in your “pretty” underwear (not your functional underwear), and let him see, and say something like, “so this is what I’ll be wearing all day today….” You can put a note in his lunchbox, like a Skor bar, and say, “Wanna Skor tonight?” If a thought occurs to you, do it! Chances are it’s a good thought, and most guys won’t laugh at you. They’ll definitely go with it! I’ve got 10 super fun creative ideas to signal “I want sex tonight!”, too.

7. DO Laugh

It’s okay to smile, and chuckle, and be giggly. It’s okay to act like teenagers. It doesn’t have to be super serious. You can joke around. “Hey, Big Man, do you have anything to help Little Ole Me?” You can flirt with your husband! It really is okay. And the more laughter, the more fun all around.

8. DO Be Eye Candy (It’s Okay!)

Is flirting still a little bit awkward? Then try this instead!

Put aside the flannel pyjamas or ugly T-shirts, get into some silk ones. Or put on a matching bra and panty set, and as you get undressed, show him what you’re wearing. Or go naked underneath a bathrobe and “flash” him while he’s downstairs. Then walk away, and see if he follows.

9. DO Follow Through

If you’ve been texting him all day, or you whispered in his ear when he walked in the door, then follow through. It’s hard on a guy to get his engines revving and then stopping with no warning.

Obviously if something comes up you may have to forego sex that evening, but if you’ve been hinting, then as much as possible, set the right conditions. Don’t watch a chick flick if it’s likely to make you so tired that at the end of it you want to collapse into bed. It may seem romantic, but if it will push bedtime back too far, then make love FIRST, before the movie. Don’t get on the computer thinking, “after I’m done this we’ll head upstairs.” If sex is your plan, then make sure it happens early, when you’re still thinking about it, rather than giving other things–the news, the computer, the movies–a chance to distract you and make you change your mind.

10. DO Be Active

Once you’ve caught his attention, and you’re heading to the bedroom, don’t let the initiation end. Be active as you make love. Touch him. Guide his hand. Be the aggressor–at least a little bit. Find a good position yourself. Get on top even! When you’re active, it shows him, “I want to do this.” If you lie there on your back and don’t do much, he may think, “she’s just doing this for me.” Show him you are interested, and you do want this to happen–by making it happen!

So there you go–a bunch of tips for making initiating sex more natural and less awkward.

And if you’re struggling with not feeling awkward during sex, I highly recommend working through 31 Days to Great Sex together. It’s a challenge you do with your husband. You just read 3-4 pages a night together, and then do what it says. I’ve got it set up so in the first week you’ll have some “quick wins” which will help you feel more confident and more sexual. And then through the rest of the month you’ll learn to flirt more, initiate more, figure out what feels good, spice things up, and talk about some of your roadblocks. Check it out!

Sex doesn’t need to be awkward, but I know that it is for so many (and it was for me, too!). But don’t overthink it. Tell yourself good things about sex, and your husband! Small changes now can add up to big changes in the long run. Now go and have a great time with your man!

Do you find initiating sex awkward? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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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. Jane Eyre

    Built-in assumption that sex is fun. It’s not.
    Men, if your wife does not enjoy sex and is only doing it for the sake of the marriage, don’t complain about who initiates or about her lack of enthusiasm.
    Sorry, bitter. I did all of these things early in our marriage, only to have my husband assume that sex was actually good for me. The reality is that men look at actions and not words, so if you initiate sex, they think it’s amazing for you and don’t understand the magnitude of the changes that need to happen.

    • Rebekah

      I hear you. We’re coming up on our 12th anniversary, and our intimate life has gotten a lot better over the last couple of years. There was around 18 months where, after many talks, I told him that I did not have the mental energy to initiate. After a lot of discussion, I needed him to take it on with the additional…caveat, condition, challenge, not sure on word there….that if he wanted me enthusiastic he needed to help me turn my brain off and my body on.
      Orgasm usually isn’t terribly easy for me without plenty of prep (or the stars aligning juuuust right). But for a while he was so focused on getting me there that even a climax was meh. He’s gotten a lot better about asking if I even WANT him to help me finish. So the orgasm is for me, not his ego. As a guy, the idea of an orgasm not being fun was tough for him to wrap his head around. But he hasn’t been disappointed with the results as it tends to be (a little) easier to climax now that it is truly about my desire (whether for an orgasm or just a full body skin to skin embrace).

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s great how letting go of the obligation message can free you up so much!

      • Andrea

        Big yes to “fully body skin to skin embrace.” I don’t think foreplay/postplay is just for the woman, I think men who think so really miss out on the full human experience of love-making.
        Also, thank you for the comment about your orgasm being for your pleasure, not his ego. I read a book that said female sexuality is focused on performance instead of pleasure in our warped society.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          It really is, Andrea! And if we’re always judging our performance, or wondering if we’re doing it right or if we look good enough we’re never going to be able to let go and have fun!

        • Jill

          Actually Andrea, there are a few Christian blogs that give me the impression that your orgasm is all about him, and some secular ones which have been more reassuring and less pressurising.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m truly sorry, Jane, but can I also say that I’ve been there? I really have. Didn’t orgasm. Wasn’t aroused. Suffered from vaginismus.
      But I did get through it, and it largely came from getting help for my physical problems, but also thinking about sex differently and prioritizing what I needed.
      I completely understand if your husband isn’t making any effort to make sex good for you. But can I suggest, then, that the problem may not be with sex itself, but instead with the sexual dynamic in your marriage? That can actually be a hopeful message. If it’s the dynamic, it can potentially be fixed. If you really think you’re incapable of feeling good sexually, then that’s a really negative message that’s hard to recover from. What if the problem is not sex being terrible, but the way that sex is being done isn’t doing anything for you at all?

      • Becky

        Honest question: in this kind of situation, how do you convince your brain that it can be a good thing? I will admit that physically, sex has improved quite a bit since my awful honeymoon experiences. PT helped for sure. But for me, improvement equates to lack of pain, most of the time. It’s still not always comfortable. It only rarely starts to feel good, and then I hit a wall and the good feelings just stop. I’ve still never had an orgasm, though not for lack of trying. I want to believe that sex can be a good thing in my marriage, and my husband is definitely happy when we do have it. But how do I build enthusiasm and willingness to initiate when it’s been a subpar experience for me at best?

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s difficult, Becky, and I do think the piece to work on for you is orgasm. If you can reach orgasm, even if it’s not through intercourse, then that would be very different. Once we’re done the editing process for The Great Sex Rescue in July we’re going to start work on our Orgasm Course, and I do hope it will help. But I think that’s the missing piece for you. You’re right–how can you think something is good when it just never feels that way? But that’s what we’ve got to figure out how to learn for you!

      • Fiona

        What do you mean ‘dynamic?’

    • Greg

      I use to initiate almost all the time a long time ago and I was usually shot down so I stopped asking 13 years ago.

  2. Rebekah

    I laughed about the go have fun, THEN put the movie on tip. We do that all the time! Kids are done with bedtime by 8ish, which means there are two more hours before we start thinking about crashing. Plenty of time for us and half a movie or an episode of whatever show. Also leaves time for another round later if the first round puts us in the mood for an encore… 🙂

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      HA! Yes, I have been so guilty of “let’s have fun after this romantic movie makes me feel all mushy….” and then I end up so tired. So switching the order does help!

      • Lindsey S

        I actually hate summer because it stays light for so long that by the time my kids go to bed it’s 9:30. Plus my brain is still all keyed up and I need time to unwind before I could even think about being amorous.
        I am normally the initiator – and it does get old and start to make you feel unattractive. But so does exhaustion and loss of identity. Welcome to parenthood. Lol!

      • M

        My husband and I met and were hot and heavy while we dated. I didn’t want to have sex before marriage, but all the foreplay of course led to it eventually. I lost a lot of friends who didn’t like him, and by the time we got married I was dealing with a lot of guilt and having a hard time not blaming him or myself. After we got married, he would initiate, and kiss me, and I would turn him down. Now it’s my greatest regret, because 3 years later he has suppressed his sex drive so much that he never seems to want to have sex. Ever.
        I want to move on, and now I feel so terrible about how I treated him for years. I think I have to get creative, but I don’t think any of these things you listed have helped me.

  3. L

    The handful of times I did initiate…. did not go well. I will not initiate unless I want sex to end badly. I do not turn him on, so why bother.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry, L! That’s truly tragic. Is it that your husband has no sex drive at all? Or that he turns away from you?

  4. Isadora

    I often initiate but it’s not because I’m horny. (I would be good with have sex twice a week or so but my man is desirous of me every day, haha) I really enjoy the bonding experience of being so close together, watching him take pleasure in me. I should probably get more creative in how I initiate. I don’t really have to do much because he gets into it so easily.

  5. James

    I really like your site and in particular this article. I’ve been married 15 years and my wife rarely if ever initiates. How can I discretely let her know that I would like her to initiate occasionally? For example turning her onto your website in a polite respectful way as to not upset her.

  6. Patrina Alleyne

    Am engaged to my boyfriend, we’re together for 8years now , he has a problem with me initiating sex, sometimes I really try but then as u said something happens and I just don’t feel like it, another thing of lately he just wanna ram like am an outside chick and that’s turns me off, I want him to take his time so I can feel him. What can I do?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Patrina,
      I’m sorry that you’re having these issues! I will say, though, that perhaps part of the problem is that you aren’t married yet. When you’re unsure about a commitment, sex can feel difficult. And if he’s not treating you well now, then perhaps he isn’t a great candidate for marriage. You need to feel as if he loves you for YOU, not only for what you can give him. Sometimes when we have sex with someone, we create a bond that is based more on sex than on other things. And it’s hard to figure out whether the relationship is actually a good one or not. If he’s been with you for 8 years, and if he’s upset at you for what you do in the bedroom, then you need to ask yourself if this is really a good relationship.
      I think that’s actually the more pressing problem here than sex. Does he truly love you, value you, and treat you well? If he’s not listening to what you want in the bedroom, but insisting on what he wants, then that isn’t very kind. And you need to decide if that is what you want. I’m sorry. I wish it were easier!

  7. E

    So what if you try but his just clueless and you can’t tell him .I need sex now. Now what ??😔

  8. Sheryl

    I have no sex drive just don’t want it what will make me want sex


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