Discovering Your Sexuality – When You’re Already Married
You aren’t mentally, emotionally, or even physically the same person you were five, ten, or twenty years ago. You’ve grown and changed. Still, many people are surprised when their sexuality continues to develop later in life. Our spouses offer a great source of love, support, and stability in our lives, but in the healthiest marriages, both partners understand that their spouse simply can’t and shouldn’t be the only person who can meet their needs. They have friends, family members, hobbies, careers, and support systems that help them feel whole and find a sense of purpose. It may seem totally logical for these needs and the people who meet them to continue to change and develop after marriage, but most people don’t think their sexuality should evolve after they’re married. Even more startling, their spouse may not be able to fulfill these new and changing sexual needs. So, what does that mean for your marriage? Keep reading to learn a little more about discovering your changing sexuality when you’re already married and consider scheduling couples counseling sessions to explore these new ideas with your spouse.
The Impact of Changing Sexuality
Many people find that, from the comfort and safety of a stable marriage, they are suddenly able to start considering that those “strange” or “uncomfortable” thoughts they had about their sexuality might be something they feel ready to explore. It’s funny how often this happens, and many marriages can actually be strengthened by honest communication about changing sexuality. In some cases, these sexual evolutions are something you and your spouse can explore together, and sometimes, you may want to consider opening your marriage to allow for greater sexual exploration. Starting to feel new desires and wanting to explore your sexuality may feel scary and painful at first. You love your spouse, and it’s never your intention to hurt them. Still, you’re genuinely grappling with some complicated and life-changing stuff, so what should you do?
Take Time to Think Things Through
Before you talk to your spouse about your emerging sexual desires, make sure you that you fully understand what it is you want or need to feel more sexually gratified. Take some time to consider the answers to the following questions (if it helps, write them down in a journal):
- What aspects of your sexuality are changing? Are you interested in exploring different sexual styles with your partner? Are you feeling attracted to people who’re a different gender from your partner? Are you feeling more or less interested in sexual intimacy?
- When did you first become curious about exploring your sexuality? Is this recent? Did you ever consider it before marriage? If so, why didn’t you act on these feelings before?
- Do you have someone in mind or are you generally questioning? If this change in sexual desire is directed at one person, it’s important to understand that and make sure it’s clear to your partner that these new desires are linked to a specific person. Even if this might hurt or offend your spouse, it’s better to go into the conversation being completely transparent.
- Have you discussed how you’re feeling with your spouse in any way? Have you mentioned wanting to try something new? Engaged in dirty talk about your new desire? Introduced the idea in a joking manner? How has your spouse responded?
- Do you feel your spouse would receive the discussion well? If so, great. Take some time and think through what you want to say and go have a chat. If not, how can you make the conversation easier?
- Is there an alternative option if your partner isn’t open to non-monogamy or allowing you to explore your changing sexuality outside the marriage? While modern marriages are more and more common, some people still struggle to accept an open or non-monogamous marriage outright. It’s worth considering whether or not there are some “happy mediums” available to provide sexual gratification and exploration without pushing your spouse further than they’re ready to go. Are you willing to start slow? For instance would introducing sexual play or pornography related to your new desire into the bedroom with your spouse be enough to start? If your desire is to be with someone of a different gender from your spouse, would your partner be open to a threesome?
- Are you willing to walk away if your partner isn’t open to allowing you to explore? This is a really vital consideration before you move forward with this discussion. Are the changes in your sexual desires strong enough that you would be willing to end your marriage if you can’t come up with a way to explore your changing sexuality within your marriage? If you’re not willing to walk away from your marriage, what is the bare minimum that you need from your partner in order to feel satisfied?
- Would you feel safer discussing your changing sexuality during therapy? Therapy sessions can offer the increased stability and security of talking with someone who understands the complexities of the situation and can help both partners understand what’s happening.
Having the Talk
When you said, “I do,” it may never have occurred to you that you would want or need someone other than your partner to feel sexually fulfilled, but our needs and desires change throughout our lives. It’s no surprise that we have different emotional needs today than we did ten years ago, and it’s perfectly natural for your sexual desires to shift as well. That doesn’t mean your partner is going to be thrilled to hear that you suddenly want to try something new. Take the following steps before you sit down to have the talk:
- Carefully think through your answers to the questions above.
- Consider talking to a therapist about your changing sexual desires. Not that there’s anything “wrong” with these changes, but working with a therapist can help you to explore the sources of your desires and understand your own needs before you talk to your partner.
- Tell your partner what you want to talk about. Isn’t this the talk? No. This is a pre-talk. Unless you’ve been dropping some pretty big hints, your partner is likely to be taken by surprise, and you’ve had time to process all of this. Your partner hasn’t. At a time when your partner seems relaxed and receptive, spill the beans. Tell them you’ve been really thinking about this, and it’s important to you. Then, ask them to take some time to think about what you’ve said, and come back together to talk. Set a time when you can both talk openly.
- Have the talk with your partner. If they’re receptive to your changing needs, work together to create a clear plan for exactly what your new sexual exploration might entail. If they’re not receptive, consider scheduling couples therapy. During counseling sessions, couples are often able to come up with a plan that’s agreeable for both partners.
Schedule Couples Therapy
Having a changing sex drive doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your marriage, but let’s face it, saying that you want someone or something that your spouse can’t or doesn’t want to give you, is not going to be an easy conversation. At Rhode Island Sex Therapy, I work with couples on a regular basis who are getting to know themselves and each other better, and that includes exploring changing sexuality at all stages of a relationship. These conversations aren’t always easy, but they can truly transform your marriage or relationship for the better. When you’re ready, get in touch. I’m here to help.