by Jillian Kramer, BRIDES
It's true that married sex is the best sex. "Marriage is a bright new beginning that often heralds a deeper dimension of a couple's sexual relationship," says Madeleine Castellanos, M.D, sex therapist and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive. "But it would be a mistake to think that the beginning of this relationship encompassed the totality of each person's sexual expression."
To grow your relationship, Castellanos says, "ongoing communication about your sexual self is essential." Start with these six questions to get on the same sexual page and to "learn about each other's values and ideals," she says.
1. How often would you like to have sex?
Expecting your sex drives to sync up from the start might be a mistake. "Couples often get into a pattern of uncertainty and guilty feelings if one person seems to want sex more frequently than the other -- and unfortunately, this is almost always unavoidable," says Castellanos. So along with asking about how often your partner wants to get down, you should also talk over what other intimate needs you each may have, because "there is always a variation in each person's schedule, mood, energy level, and stress level," she says.
2. How do you think having kids will affect our sex life?
"It's so easy to get caught up with the excitement of your sex life," says Castellanos, "that most people don't stop to think about how children will affect their sex life." By asking what your significant other thinks will change post-children, you can "explore such issues as whether you think you will be distracted or inhibited, whether you think that being a parent takes away your sexiness and sexual vitality, and also how best to develop a strategy to separate the physical demands of being a mommy from the sexual touch of a partner," she says.
3. What sexual fantasies might you'd like to enact one day?
Everyone has a sexual fantasy or two. But "partners can be hesitant about sharing what kinds of sexual activities they would like to do," says Sari Cooper, New York City-based certified sex therapist and coach, "because they don't want their partner to know what they have done in the past with others, they have embarrassment over their desires, or they think their partner will think critically about them." It's important to get to explore them before you tie the knot, she says, and show your partner they can be open and honest with you.
4. How do you feel about sex toys?
Sex ruts are often the result of sexual routine. So over time, "it's nice to have variety in your sex life in order to keep your brain's attention and arousal piqued," explains Castellanos. It's a good idea to get on the same page about "having sex in different positions as well as mixing and matching oral sex and manual stimulation. Sex toys can also be a great addition to your sex life, expanding your possibilities of your sensations and activities."
5. What do you define as cheating?
You might be surprised to find your future spouse defines fidelity differently than you do. "This is a critical conversation to have since it lays down the foundations for the monogamy agreement," says Cooper. "Is chatting online with a stranger considered infidelity? Is going to a strip club and getting a lap dance considered infidelity? Or getting together for a drink with a colleague? All of these questions bring up jealousy, desire, and level of monogamy you and your partner need to consider before getting married."
6. How do you feel about pornography?
Fact: "It's impossible to get away from porn these days, and many people have used it in order to kick-start arousal," says Castellanos. "Unfortunately, when porn is done in hiding, it can fuel feelings of avoidance and anger." To keep those uncomfortable feelings at bay, "it's great for couples to discuss how each of them feel about porn and what their expectations of porn use is for each individual and in the relationship so that there is transparency around this issue," she says.