I met my wife at a time when my mentality towards both sex and conversation was self-serving. What I needed to say was almost always more important than the other person's thoughts and opinions. I rarely remembered what other people said in a conversation - that was, if they even got a chance to speak in the first place.
Fate then paired me with a wife who was just as stubborn, but with a lower sex drive. It was the first time in my life when sex wasn't just about me. I couldn't just tap her shoulder and expect her to roll over. Just being in the mood for sex wasn't enough; her mood was just as important. Her orgasm was just as important. All this was made clear to me early in our relationship, and yet I still struggled to understand. I sulked, huffed and puffed. We would talk, but mostly about how it affected me. I projected all my insecurities in our arguments about sex and never stopped to think about what she wanted. If she said no, it must have been because of me. The same lie would apply when she said yes.
I firmly believe that our relationship (and sex life) was saved the day I decided to try and be a better listener. Not just with her, but with everyone in my life. Listening is a form of love. It is the most readily available gift you can give to those you love. Because of this, I have come to learn that sex is not about how skillful I am at it. It is a physical manifestation of how good a listener I am. All the sex hacks ever created amount to nothing if I can't listen to the person I am having it with. They are the only experts that matter.
Listening is something you start with yourself. Sex up until this point had been nothing more than a release. I had it simply because I wanted it. It needed to become something that was fun for both of us, which means I needed to understand and reflect on the things that made sex amazing for me. My job was to communicate these things and then give her a platform to communicate hers. Once you start approaching sex with curiosity, the next obvious step is competing to please each other.
Good listeners know how to ask for clarification. Most of the time when she had been too tired for sex, I never bothered to ask why. If she's tired, then there's a reason for it. If I can help her find that reason, I may be able to help her be less tired in the future. That means more sex! This is how I started being more helpful with chores.
To be a good listener, I also had to learn how to stop moralizing sex. I'd be losing out on so much if the person I'm having sex with doesn't feel like it is safe to share their sexual fantasies. No matter how much her fantasies poke at my insecurities, it is still better to have sex with someone who is actually enjoying it. That's all I ever need to remind myself.
Being a better listener also taught me how to separate my worth from objective criticism. I'm allowed to have bad sex if I'm willing to learn from it. What she didn't like about the sex is not a reflection of my manhood; it is a teachable moment. I don't prove my manhood by being good at sex; I do it by listening to criticism. Two people who regularly have great sex, are two people who are not afraid to criticize each other. They know that's the real secret behind it all.
I no longer just want sex, I want to enjoy it. I enjoy it because I have someone who listens to me and trusts that I will listen to her. I also have more sex than I sometimes feel like I deserve. It's no longer just about me, and that's the best part.
What do you think makes great sex?