Sex advice with Suzi Godson: My wife likes me to stay silent during sex

Female sexual satisfaction is more complex and some women develop idiosyncratic strategies to coax orgasm, says Suzi Godson.

Q. I like to tell my wife how I feel during sex, but she doesn’t like it. She tends to get annoyed and asks me to stop talking. Does it indicate a lack of intimacy, that she does not want to express her desires? How do we bridge this gap in our preferences?

A. There could be any number of reasons why your wife prefers silent sex, but I’m pretty sure that lack of intimacy isn’t one of them. 

She may simply be trying to let her body do the talking, but understanding why she needs silence may make it easier for you to accept her behaviour.

For example, in the past she may have had to learn to be quiet to have privacy in a shared house — so the connection between not speaking and orgasm could have become part of her experience. 

Alternatively, she may not like what you are saying. Some men like to provide a running commentary during sex, and not all women find it sexy.

The most likely explanation, however, is that she simply can’t concentrate. Male arousal and orgasm tend to be pretty linear, but female sexual satisfaction is more complex and some women develop idiosyncratic strategies to try to coax orgasm. 

When women start to lose themselves in a sexual experience, they can begin to register a series of subtle physiological changes that can include repetitive or chaotic thoughts, leg cramp, or muscular tension, which indicate that their orgasm is imminent. 

These markers are reassuring because they tell women that their arousal is building and they are going to make it to the point of no return. Female arousal can be elusive, and distraction could mean that she loses the build-up.

That makes it sound as if women can achieve orgasm by concentrating on the sensations they are experiencing, but it’s more complicated than that. In men and women, arousal and orgasm are governed by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). 

The ANS is responsible for control of bodily functions that are beyond conscious control, such as breathing, digestion and heartbeat. In the same way that you can’t tell your heart to beat, you can’t tell yourself to have an orgasm. However, you can put all the right conditions in place to maximise the possibility that an orgasm will happen.

The conditions vary from one person to another, but, regardless of gender, sexual attraction and stimulation are the most universal common denominators. 

Beyond that, it gets a bit more anomalous. For your wife, what she may need for orgasm is simply silence.

Understanding why your wife likes the bedroom to be quiet is the first step towards bridging the gap in your preferences, and you won’t find that out unless you talk to her outside the bedroom. The communication needs to work both ways. 

If you know that when she tells you to be quiet, she is focusing on imminent orgasm, you won’t feel so offended when she whispers “shhh” to you during sex. 

Similarly, if she knows that telling her how you feel during sex makes the experience much more meaningful for you, she will be more willing to listen.

Understanding where you are both coming from will enable you to work out a compromise that meets both your needs. Why not experiment with separating intimate talk from intimacy? 

She may find it challenging and exciting to engage in sexual and emotional dialogue if it is unrelated to the act itself. 

There are lots of ways to turn this problem into an interesting solution if you are willing to meet each other halfway.

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