With Valentine’s Day coming up, couples are busy looking for gifts that will please their partners. Chicago entrepreneur Ladonna Wright created a card and dice game called Secret VII to help couples communicate their sexual needs and fantasies to one another. In two years, 20,000 copies of Secret VII have sold through stores and online.
Wright talks about Secret VII in the accompanying audio story.
For another look at couple intimacy, we sat down with clinical psychologist Dr. Amanda Rios of Core- Center of Relational Empowerment, PC in Chicago:
Q: In general, what would you recommend to couples that struggle with intimacy?
A: I think it's really important look at where the intimacy problems come from. For example, (struggles) related to sexual concerns might be related to how they communicate in other parts of their relationship as well. Sometimes it's really hard to have communication in that area. So I would recommend slowly working into comfort with, first of all yourself as an individual, but then also opening up and sharing some of your vulnerabilities with your partner if you are in a trusting relationship.
Q: Why is there a fear of talking about intimacy and sex in our culture?
A: I think that there are a lot of messages about what is considered public verses private. And I think that if you come from a context where talking about sex is really a private matter, then you certainly are going to have trouble talking about it just in public.
Q: Why is sexual communication in relationships important?
A: Sexual communication can be both verbal and non-verbal. Sometimes people feel comfortable expressing verbally what it is that they're needing from their partner, and some people don't. So verbal and non-verbal communication is important, but also being able to read your partner is really important.
Q: What are some other ways couples can communicate with each other about their sex life?
A: A lot of couples have a routine of what feels comfortable but after a while sometimes that changes, like maybe their interests change or maybe because of physiological reasons they change up how they're feeling about certain intimacy acts, certain sexual encounters. But I think it's really important to look at how you're experiencing the sex, if you feel like your partner is meeting your needs or not. Some things to try might be (moving) sex (out) of the bedroom. Like for example, if you have fantasies sharing those with your partner, (but) not necessarily when you're having sex.