Did you know that all couples have a sex contract? The sex contract may be openly negotiated and settled, or it may be entirely secret from both partners.
What is a sex contract? A sex contract is an agreement between two partners about how sex is going to happen.
What’s in a Sex Contract?
Contract items include who is going to initiate sex, how often the couple will have sex, what types of sex acts will occur, and what will happen after sex. The contract might also include small details, such as whether eyes will be open or closed, room lit or dark, music on or off, and even whether lube and toys will be used.
Two Different Couples, Two Different Sex Contracts
Let’s take a look at two different couples, their sex contracts, and their sex lives, shall we?
Wendy and Lee’s Sex Contract
Wendy and Lee have never openly discussed their sex contract, which has been the same for several years:
We will have sex once a week, rain or shine.
We will always brush our teeth and shower before sex.
We will keep lube by the bed but we try not to need it.
For about every three times we have sex in the missionary position, we will have sex about once with Wendy on top.
If Wendy doesn’t have an orgasm during intercourse, Wendy will use a vibrator on herself for release.
We will kiss afterward, say “I love you,” and go to sleep.
Julia and Tim’s Sex Contract
Julia and Tim openly discuss their sex contract regularly, and it evolves over time. Here is what their contract looks like now:
Julie gives Tim a clear signal that she is open to initiation and Tim does so, unless he really is not in the mood. If that is the case, he tells Julie and assures her that he will initiate as soon as he is rested, relaxed, feeling better, etc.
Tim will let Julie know if he needs extra stimulation to get aroused. Julie will understand that this doesn’t mean that Tim isn’t turned on by Julie, he just wants more foreplay for himself.
Julie decides if she needs lubricant. She can choose to use the expensive luxury brand or the cheap one she can drizzle freely.
They keep a locked toy chest under the bed. The key is on the nightstand. Either one of them can dangle the key to show they want to play.
Tim likes rear entry, Julie likes to face each other, so they trade off and decide what position they’d like to be in during climax.
If Julie doesn’t orgasm, then she can decide if and how she’d like to come.
Although Tim and Julie don’t have a formal agreement, they let each other know if something isn’t working and talk together to change it.
The Problem with Unspoken Sex Contracts
Both contracts are perfectly acceptable. But what if Wendy or Lee is unhappy? How would either partner know? What if one partner is afraid to say anything because the whole negotiation might break down, and sex will be off the table? How will they handle their sex life if things change, like their bodies, their turn on’s, their drives, or their obligations outside of the relationship?
As I write this I wonder, do you find yourself thinking that couples like Julie and Tim aren’t real? Yes, they are! There are plenty of couples that tell each other exactly what they like. How they end up in my practice is usually because something has gone wrong, like a cancer diagnosis or a misunderstanding about how sex changes as we age. Once they understand, though, they usually adapt because there is excellent communication already in place.
What’s Your Sex Contract?
Do you have a sex contract that needs to be explored? Is it time to renew the current contract, or do you need to toss it and draw up a new one? Such conversations can be tricky at first, but become easier with practice. Try negotiating one part of your sex life first. Once that is working better, negotiate for more changes.
If your sex life still is stuck in neutral, get help. Sex isn’t rocket science! Change is possible, but only if you are willing to go for the sex you want.
Dr. Stephanie Buehler is a nationally known psychologist and sex therapist, and Director of The Buehler Institute in Newport Beach, CA. The Buehler Institute offers sex therapy for men, women, and couples, as well as continuing education for therapists and healthcare professionals. Dr. Buehler’s newest book is What Every Mental Health Professional Needs to Know about Sex. Visit The Buehler Institute at http://www.TheBuehlerInstitute.com to choose your free ebook–either for couples or for professionals wanting to learn sex therapy.