‘Til Death (or Feedback) Do us Part

The vows of marriage state, “until death do us part,” that you love and accept each other for who you are, and that you respect that. However, does that mean we have to accept the ways they love us? When maybe… we want something else?
It can be hard to talk to our partners about the ways in which we want to be treated, held, touched. It’s not that they’ve loved you inadequately up until now, but you want them to know exactly what you need, and the only way to do that is to tell them. 
Unfortunately, your feedback may not always be perceived as eloquently as you intended. Sex Coach Pam Costa shares how you need to make your sex feedback sexy in her Down to There blog…

Things were going pretty well for my husband and me in our first few months of seeing a sex therapist.  I let go of some not-so-helpful beliefs about sex and took ownership over my sexuality.  I learned what I liked and what I didn’t, and was starting to get comfortable asking for what I wanted.

To me, this felt like the Holy Grail.  Previously, when we were having sex, I was generally on board with the various things he was doing, but I didn’t make requests and certainly didn’t provide much feedback.  I mean, when we got married, our vows were to have and to hold, until death do us part.  There was nothing about giving and receiving feedback on how we liked to be had and held.

But when I started to discover the variety and nuanced ways that I liked being touched, I wanted to share all these amazing insights with my husband.  For instance, I wanted to tell him that feather-light touch too soon made me ticklish, and I preferred instead a more grounding grasp to start.  And that I had erogenous zones other than the standard fare that were eager for attention.  These things were intriguing to me, and I was certain he would be able to capitalize on this newfound knowledge.

And then “the awful moment” happened.  Early on in sex one night, being the great teacher that I knew I was going to be, I pushed my husband’s arm away from something I didn’t want touched and towards something I did.  I also provided clear and calm verbal feedback on the type of touch I wanted on the thing I wanted touched.  So awesome, right?

But sex stopped in that moment.  Like completely stopped.  Like all erotic energy flew completely out the window.  My husband turned to stone.  I was completely miffed.  I knew what I wanted, how I wanted it, and I was confident enough in my sexuality to state it… how could he not be completely thankful for this change and excited to take my direction because it would lead to states of ecstacy?!?  Neither of us were able to explain ourselves in the moment, so we sat in steely silence and eventually drifted off to sleep.

I brought up this encounter in our next session with our sex and relationship coach.  As we talked, I was surprised to hear his interpretation of the event.  After years of rejecting his advances and relatively little input from me during sex, the body language and tone of voice I had used came across as a reprimand, further emasculating him and his skills in the bedroom.  Ouch, huh?

It’s interesting how interpretation of the same event can be so radically different between two people.  And of course, both of us were right, which meant that any solution to the problem we were facing would require participation from both of us.  On his end, my husband agreed to work on viewing feedback as a gift, to encourage it instead of discouraging it.  For my part, I agreed to practice staying “in character” when giving my feedback.

Have you ever given sexy feedback?  I don’t mean feedback about sex.  I mean SEXY feedback.  It might be different for everyone, so I’d encourage you to try different things, but for me the sure fire way to do this is to breathe slowly and deeply to stay in touch with the warm and tingly sensations down there WHILE providing feedback.

For instance, my husband could touch my arm in a way that is too light, and I could essentially step out of the experience and say in a normal voice “touch me harder”.  That’s good information, but I’ve suddenly lost touch with my body and the delivery isn’t super compelling to my husband.

On the other hand, I could purr or lean in close and whisper in his ear “I love it when you grab my arm and squeeze, it makes me want you so bad.”  What I find really interesting about this approach is that it doesn’t even seem like feedback.  It seems like dirty talk.  And it works.  He feels great, and I feel even better.

So screw traditional vows.  Here’s to having and holding, and giving and receiving sexy feedback, until we are too tired from all our amazing sex and need to go to sleep.

To learn more about Pam’s journey, try out some of her sexual exercises or even sign up for one-on-one coaching, you can visit her website DownToThere.com


After a decade and a half at Apple and Facebook, Pam left her career in high tech to found Down To There to share her real-life stories of challenges and successes around sexuality in her marriage. She believes that speaking openly about sex can help individuals and couples find new ways to renew and deepen desire and intimacy in their own relationships. She also believes in the healing power of sharing and recently launched Down To There Circles, free, peer-led discussion groups, to help friends support and inspire each other around sex and relationships.
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