Words have the power to elicit a wide range of positive emotions such as sexual interest, peaceful contentment, high self-esteem, etc. Words also have the power to elicit a wide range of negative emotions such as fear, shame, anger, and disgust. Unfortunately, words spoken by one person for the benefit of another are often received in a completely different spirit. Just like we mentioned earlier about beauty being in the eye of the beholder, good feelings are found not in the words spoken, but in the ear of the hearer.
For that reason, it’s imperative that husbands and wives talk about what kind of sexual vocabulary they are most comfortable with. Sharing a common language that builds sexual energy, trust, and intimacy are vital to positive communication experiences. For example, Melinda says, “I often find the words my husband speaks to me in our bedroom offensive. Although he communicates very respectfully outside the bedroom, inside he talks to me like I’m some whore. Do I have a right to speak up about how this bothers me?”
Of course Melinda has that right, and she should exercise it so that her husband can be more sensitive to her needs and desires. Chances are, he doesn’t view her as a whore at all, but just assumes that such words are acceptable or arousing to her. In fact, they are acceptable to many women, such as Diedra. She says, “I know my husband is a doctor who’s accustomed to using proper medical terms with his patients, but I’m not his patient. I’m his wife. Is it really necessary to be so proper in the bedroom? When he says, “I’ve wanted to penetrate your vagina all day!” I act interested, but inside I want to laugh and ask if he really thinks he’s turning me on with that kind of talk. Should I just go along, or tell him what I really want to hear?”
To answer Diedra’s question, let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Let’s suppose you were saying words to your husband in the heat of the moment that you thought would arouse him, but in fact, repulse him. Would you want to know? Would you want him to teach you what he likes? Of course you would. My guess is that your husband would appreciate the same courtesy.
…You can make a fun game out of this. Together, make a list of every sexual term you can think of, both proper medical terms and slang terms. Make two columns, one for your responses and one for his responses. Line by line, read the word and indicate with either a minus sign or a plus sign whether that word is one you’d enjoy hearing in the throes of passion.