How to have healthy conversations about sex with Vanessa & Xander Marin

#real life parents voyv Jun 29, 2023


00:00:00    Alyssa

It's. You're listening to Voices of Your Village. And buckle up today, y'all, because we are diving in to the topic of sex. We get to hang out with Vanessa and Xander Marin. They are over at Vanessa and Xander on Instagram. They wrote an incredible book that I purchased own. Got to chat all about them with called, Sex Talks. And what I love about them is that their approach to sex is really about an approach to communication. How are we showing up in relationship with one another? How are we having conversations, especially ones that might feel awkward or new for us, like, if we didn't grow up having these conversations or witnessing them, what does it look like to have them? It is truly the sex education I wish existed for all humans. And I loved love love it. I asked them real questions, like, what does this look like postpartum all that jazz when you're leaking fluids from all the holes? Like, how does this show up? What does it look like to prioritize our relationships and really pour into one another? Or connect when our bandwidth is low, when we're pulled in 7000 directions, or you've had a baby on your body all day and you're touched out or whatever? I love how practical and applicable their tips in the book and then in this podcast episode are. 


00:01:43    Alyssa

Also, if you want to dive deeper into their work beyond their book, Sex Talks, which I highly recommend, you can tune into their podcast, Pillow Talks. I love that she's a sex therapist with 20 years of experience, and he's a regular dude. They're, like, shockingly open, slightly nerdy, truly just like a funny couple you'd want to hang with. And obviously, because we're talking about sex in this episode, if you're not in a space to talk about that right now, or you're in the car driving with a car full of kids or your mother in law or whatever, and this is not the time for you, go ahead and hit pause. Come on back when you're ready. Pop some air pods in. Join us when you're doing the dishes. You know the drill. All right, folks, let's dive in folks. 


00:01:54    Alyssa

Hey there. I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and co-creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans, raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together. 


00:02:47    Alyssa

Hello everyone and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today I get to hang out with Vanessa and Xander Marin. They are the authors of Sex Talks, the five conversations that will transform your love life. And I put some questions out to y'all for this one. And we've got some real juicy responses. I'm stoked to get to dive in with you two today. Hi, Vanessa and Xander. 


00:03:10    Vanessa

Hi, thanks for having us. We're very excited to be here. We love good audience questions. So we're ready to roll. 


00:03:16    Xander

Thank you. Yeah, we're looking forward to it. 


00:03:18    Alyssa

Yeah, for sure. I'm excited to dive into it today too. I think it's a topic that I think we talk about enough, especially in parenthood. And I think it needs more of a conversation. And I'm curious about your thoughts around this. I think it's a topic that is uncomfortable for a lot of folks to talk about. And I think even hard to bring up and have like a real conversation about sex with our partners. What do you think that comes from? 


00:03:49    Vanessa

Well, we don't really have any experience or any role models to look at. I mean, if you think about every sex scene that you've ever seen on TV or the movies, which let's be real, those scenes are our sex education for the vast majority of us. If you think about those scenes, you never see characters talking to each other about the sex that they are having or not having with each other. So when we see that exact same scene played out over and over and over again our entire lives. Of course, we're going to internalize this belief that, oh, it's something that we shouldn't have to talk about. If the chemistry is right between the two of us, if I've found my person, then we shouldn't have to talk about it. 


00:04:31    Xander

And on top of all of that, you most likely had a very initial awkward experience talking about sex when your parents had the talk with you. Maybe they had it with you, it was super awkward. Maybe they didn't even feel comfortable having it with you, which is the experience a lot of people also have. And so of course, what you take away from that is, well, God, this must really be something that we shouldn't talk about. You didn't even have the chance to feel the awkwardness. So everyone comes away from that thinking, wow, that was painful or that must be so painful and that's why we didn't have it. So then of course, why would you want to have that, to repeat that or what you think is gonna be a repeat of that once you started having sex with your partner? So much easier to just kind of go ahead doing it the way that you've seen it done on TV and not talking about it like Vanessa said. 


00:05:22    Alyssa

Yeah, that's so, so interesting to think about. Like I grew up in a household where it was not talked about at all. Like periods weren't talked about any of it. Like there was nothing related to my vagina that was ever gonna be up for discussion. And so you're right. Like there was this like narrative in my head of like, it's taboo. We're not supposed to talk about it. It's just supposed to happen. It's supposed to happen in secrecy and it's never supposed to be talked about. So interesting to think about it in that way. So now you're like me, you were up in this household where no one talked about it or you had that uncomfortable conversation. Now you're like, okay, maybe I want to do this differently. And I want to be able to have open communication about this. How do you kickstart that journey? 


00:06:14    Vanessa

That's exactly why we wrote Sex Talks, because we know so many people really struggle with this. I mean, I think once we become adults and we, you know, a lot of us have started to see the advice, talk about it. Like when you're up late at night, Googling on incognito mode, all of the sex questions that you're too afraid to ask anybody, you know, you start to see that in articles, just talk about it with your partner, but we don't know how to talk about it. So we wanted to write a very practical book that would guide couples through exactly what to talk about. So we boiled it down into these five conversations that we think will transform any couple's love life and guide you through exactly step-by-step how to do it. So the first conversation, we don't get people go through all the five conversations if you want to, but what we wanted to do was pick a starting point that was going to feel manageable and doable for a lot of people, knowing that most people are coming into this feeling like this is awkward, this is uncomfortable, I've never done this before. So the first conversation that we have, we call it acknowledgement, aka sex is a thing and we have it. The point of this conversation is simply to get comfortable with sex as a topic of conversation. So you're not trying to solve any problems, you're not making any complaints, you're not making any requests, you're not even initiating sex. It's literally just getting comfortable talking about it. So one very practical thing that anybody listening to this can do after they've finished the episode is take some time to think about one of your favorite sexual experiences with your partner and share that with them today. So you can do it face to face. If you're feeling really nervous, you can do it over text, but all you want to do is just introduce the memory. Like, you know what popped into my head randomly today. I was just thinking about an anniversary trip that we took to Mexico, that hotel that we were in and what we did that night That's all I just wanted to share that with you. It's a fun little memory to have pop into my head. So in this way, you're starting to create this positive foundation for talking about sex and helping you and your partner recognize, hey, we can talk about this and it can actually be fun and flirty and exciting. It doesn't have to be this scary, heavy taboo topic. 


00:08:33    Xander

Yeah, in doing that, you're creating a positive association of, oh, we talk about sex and we feel connected. I feel good. My partner feels good. There's no extra baggage or energy associated with it. Because the mistake that so many of us make is, well, we don't talk about it. That's not your fault. We've talked about all the reasons why we don't talk about it. But when you don't talk about it, you start to have an issue or a problem and you kind of hold it in, hold it in, it builds and builds and builds and eventually comes boiling over and you end up having a big argument or you, you know, say, oh you never do this anymore or why, you know, you gotta stop doing that And that's just setting us up for resentment, for defensiveness, for disappointment. And it makes us feel like, well, God, sex is really not a safe topic because whenever it comes up, it's only negative stuff. So this is just, you know, trying to say, yeah, this is how it is for a lot of people. We got to break that association by starting back at the beginning and making these positive associations. 


00:09:40    Alyssa

I love that. And I love the permission to be able to like initiate via text if a face to face feels hard or even just like in the parenting world. Once kids are down, I feel like finding a time to have really, any real conversation can feel hard. And in our household, it's usually at the end of the day, my kid goes to bed about 830. And then we clean up the house and prepare lunches next day. It's like 9pm. And I'm tired. And now I don't really want to talk to anybody. And definitely don't want to have a conversation. And I think what can come up for me is like, if I'm tired and I'm like, I don't want to initiate sex and I'm nervous that if I start talking about it, then sex will be initiated as like a part of the expectation here. And like, maybe that's not what I want right now. And so I personally love the invitation to like text it out. 


00:10:36    Vanessa

Yeah, we're all about creating practical steps. You know, we know people lead busy lives. A lot of us just have a lot of stuff on our plate. And so we want to give people actionable things that they can fit into their lives. And I think once you take those baby steps, you start to get some momentum and you realize, okay, hey, I did that and it went over well, let me try something else. So yeah, if texting feels like the, you know, the thing that you feel, you know, most confident doing, if it feels like the thing that you have the time and the space for, like, start with texting. 


00:11:08    Alyssa

Yeah, I dig that permission. All right, hit me with number two. 


00:11:14    Alyssa

Conversation number two is connection. What do we need to feel close to each other? So I think a lot of people are going to see, this book is called Sex Talks, but wait a minute, the second conversation we're talking about all about emotional intimacy, like where's the sex? And a lot of us, we compartmentalize sex. We think of sex as, well, that's just this thing that we do in the bedroom at the end of the day with the doors locked and the lights out. But the reality is that the connection, the emotional intimacy that we feel with each other or don't feel with each other throughout the day really impacts how we show up in the bedroom at the end of the night. And I think this conversation is a particularly powerful one for parents because so many parents say, you know, once we made that transition from being the two of us to having a kid, the whole like mathematics of the relationship just changed. You know, the amount of time that we get together, the level of connection that we feel with each other. And a lot of parents will say, we feel like ships passing in the night. We feel like roommates rather than romantic partners. And so if you're getting into bed with your partner at the end of the night and it feels like a stranger crawling in on the other side of it with you, like that's going to be a really high bar for then all of a sudden feeling like you're supposed to be all wildly turned on and ready for sex. 


00:12:34    Xander

And the key with this conversation, especially for really busy parents, is that this isn't about these big grand gestures or big complicated things like, oh, wait, you're telling me I have to do like a whole weekend away so that we feel connected. Like there's no way that's going to happen. I think a lot of us jump to that as like, oh, well, you know, that's what we used to do. We used to do these big things or that's what I see portrayed on TV. You know, like one partner messes up and they got to make up for it by, you know, doing the fancy dinner and all that stuff. But the reality is there's a lot of little things that you can do that can have just as big, if not more of an impact. But the key is that you have this conversation to really understand what types of activities feel the most connecting for your partner. So for example, like what I have learned about Vanessa and having these conversations is that Vanessa loves compliments and like compliments are cool for me. Like it's nice when someone gives me a compliment but like it doesn't make my day. And so for the longest time I didn't really totally understand like how much of a difference that made for her versus what, you know, what it does for me. And so what I've come to find is that if I just give her a couple little compliments throughout the day about things that she's already doing, it doesn't have to be anything big and complicated, she feels so good and she feels so connected to me. And on the flip side, she knows I love physical affection. If she comes and gives me an unsolicited hug out of nowhere, like it makes my day. But if we never talk about that, we just kind of operate in our own way. So like I'd be going around giving her hugs and she'd be giving me compliments and we'd be kind of missing each other. 


00:14:18    Alyssa

Yeah, I love that. And like coming back to like, how do you receive love? Yeah, and like our inclination is often to give it the way that we receive it, which is not always gonna be as impactful. I dig that also, Vanessa, I hear you. Like, tell me all the things that are great about me. Like love it. Love it. And it can be even, it helps me feel seen. Even when Zach's like, hey, thanks for getting Sagey's lunches together. Like even little things like that are just like things I'm doing, just that validation and like feeling like, oh, you noticed me. Yeah, that goes a long way.  


00:14:53    Vanessa

That's actually, that's something that we talk about in that chapter as well, the power of gratitude. So obviously like gratitude and compliments are pretty close to each other, but gratitude is incredibly important. A study found that gratitude was actually the number one predictor of marital satisfaction. Like that's how important it was. And I think this is yet another thing that is even more impactful for parents because there is this tendency to feel like we're so focused on the kids that we're kind of missing each other. But if you take that moment to see your partner and to call out something that they're doing, like, I see that you packed the lunch, I see that you unloaded the dishwasher, I appreciate you for just taking the initiative to get the kids in the bath. Like it takes two seconds to say something like that. It's free, It takes zero energy, but it can have a huge impact on your relationship. Like I think most people will be absolutely shocked to try this out and realize how good it makes them feel and how good it makes their partner feel. 


00:15:58    Xander

Yeah. I think it's so easy for us to fall into that trap, you know, especially when you have kids and there are a lot of responsibilities and a lot of tasks to do, but fall into that trap of thinking like, oh, well, it's like, like, I have my jobs, my partner has their jobs. You know, I do my stuff, they do their stuff. And like, you know, like, oh, I don't need to be thanking them for that. Or I don't need to be acknowledging them for that. It's, you know, it's like a transactional thing. But the, you know, the reality is like, relationships aren't a transactional thing. Like we get into a relationship because we want to be a team. Like we love each other. We want to be a team. It's about more than that. And so it's so important to try to remember that and try to bring that gratitude back to it. 


00:16:44    Vanessa

And especially when you're an exhausted, overwhelmed parent, your brain is going to go to all the things your partner does wrong so much easier. It is so much easier to think about the like, you didn't unload the dishwasher and you didn't start bath time and you put the sock next to the hamper instead of inside of it. And so it's really like a practice of trying to rewire our brain to pay attention to the things that our partner is doing right. 


00:17:11    Alyssa

And I think on that same side of that coin, like we're so good at finding what we're not doing well, right? Like I can leave the day as a parent every day and tell you all the ways I dropped the ball, all the things that I messed up on. And so to hear that validation from Zach, my husband, it's like, it's what I need to tell myself too that I'm not telling myself all day. Absolutely. I love that. Number three. 


00:17:37    Vanessa

Number three is desire. What do we need to feel excited about being intimate with each other? So this conversation gets all into a bunch of like fun models. One of the things is initiation style. So it's kind of, it's very similar to the love languages. You know, if we don't know our partner's initiation style, the specific way that they actually like intimacy to be initiated, then we are probably going to be initiating in the way that we would like. And it might not be the thing that works for our partner. 


00:18:08    Xander

Probably not. 


00:18:09    Vanessa

It's probably not. So yeah, this conversation is all about understanding what do we need in the moment or even throughout the day to build up that anticipation and that excitement. And we even go into different sex drive types as well. Like understanding what your type is and what it actually needs to get turned on. So really demystifying this big topic, because I think so many of us in long-term relationships, it feels like desire used to be so easy at the beginning of the relationship. Like we never had to think about it. It just happened. And now all of a sudden, like, what happened? Like what happened to all that desire? It used to feel so easy and now it feels so much more complicated. So we really break down why that happens and how to rediscover that desire. 


00:18:56    Alyssa

Have you been scrolling the Internet? And there's all these tools for calming your child and how to regulate and whatever, and you try them and your child just gets amped up or that doesn't work. Or you find yourself in these cycles where it's like epic meltdown. Try to come back from it and you just feel like you're putting out fires all day long. If this is you, you aren't alone. And we collaborated with an Occupational Therapist to create our Sensory Profile quiz. This is going to help you learn about what helps your child regulate what's happening in their unique nervous system. We are all different and figuring out what you're sensitive to or what helps you regulate is the key for actually doing this work, for getting to a regulated state, for having tools, for calming down, for having tools for regulation. Head on over to to take the quiz for free. You can take it as many times as you like for as many humans as you'd like, and we will deliver results right to your inbox to get you kick started on this journey. 


00:18:58    Alyssa

Okay, I feel like this for all the parents out there are like, yeah, give it to me. Because I think like two part like, hey, yes, it's the time together. Right. And science. But also that you're going to be in seasons where your body is in a different place. And you're like, no, I physically don't want to have, like it would be painful right now. Or I'm vomiting all day. And like, guess what doesn't feel hot? And being able to like navigate those seasons where desires lower. So I think probably every parent's like jump ahead to chapter three, rule number three. 


00:19:39    Vanessa

Yeah, this is a great one. So I think one tip that we talk about in this chapter that is geared, especially for parents is the importance of transition time. So a lot of moms will tell us, or primary caretakers, you know, whoever it is, it's the primary caretaker for the kids. Like I'm in mom or dad or parent mode all day long. And then I feel this pressure to flip a switch and all of a sudden I'm supposed to be sexy, hot, always up for anything, wife mode or husband mode. And so one of the very practical tips that we talk about is that there needs to be an actual transition there. And if you're the primary taker, what you really need is some alone time. You need a little bit of time to like come back home to yourself, reconnect with yourself, your own body first, before you can transition into something else with your partner. So we talk about like, even if all you can do is 60 seconds where you're like, babe, you got to wrap up dinner, I'm going to take 60 seconds to lock myself in the closet. And you know, and just turn the lights off and take a few deep breaths. That can actually make a really big difference. So I think a lot of people try to have some sort of alone time, but the mistake that we make is getting on our phones or like trying to, you know, watch TV or something like that. And that's actually not very relaxing to us. It doesn't create that transition. So we really advocate for darkness, no stimulation, just deep breathing. That's all you're doing. 


00:21:08    Alyssa

I think it's so helpful. And I think for me, at least the transition time is less when there has been like connection throughout the day, right? One of my, like, I don't know if it's triggers or whatever, but is feeling convenient. Like if it's like, oh, it got to the end of the day and now we're going to bed and I just happened to be in this bed next to you and now you want to have sex, then I feel convenient. And so the connection throughout the day for me is like, Oh, even when like we weren't alone in a bedroom, like I still felt that the desire part, like throughout the day. Does that make sense? And then that transition time is cut down for me. 


00:21:45    Vanessa

Yeah. That, that kind of folds into our conversations about the initiation styles. So a lot of us, when we picture initiation in our head, we think of it as like, hey, do you want to have sex with me right now? 


00:21:56    Xander

Yeah, like, like, it's this binary, like, it's just a yes, no, simple. 


00:21:58    Vanessa

Yes, no, and it's like right now. But for a lot of the initiation types, like the different styles, some people like to have initiation being a more drawn out process. So maybe in the morning, it's like Xander telling me, Hey, I would love for us to try to carve out a little bit of time for ourselves tonight. And then maybe he's texting me throughout the day, like I'm thinking about you, I'm thinking about the last time that we had sex, or why don't you put on that, like those underwear that I really like. You know, so we give ourselves that opportunity to build up some anticipation and desire rather than feeling like so on the spot, like, do you want to do it right now? 


00:22:37    Alyssa

100% And then it's also like, I have dry shampoo in my hair, like what's happening for me, right? Like anticipation also for me, I think helps me like mentally prep of like, yeah, all the other logistics that go in to X, Y, and Z. So helpful. And all right. I feel like I could hang out in desire for forever, but I'm going to table my desire questions to go through four and five and then see if you answer them. All right next one.


00:23:06    Vanessa

Okay conversation four is pleasure. What do we each need to feel good and to have a satisfying and enjoyable experience? The conversations are all laid out in this specific order and we put, um, four and three close to each other because there's a really important connection between enjoyment and desire. And most of us do not make this connection. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. 


00:23:28    Alyssa

That sucked and I want more of it, right? Like that doesn't happen. 


00:23:30    Vanessa

Exactly. But most people don't make that connection. You know, one of the most common complaints that we hear is I have no desire. And so we'll ask people, okay, well tell us about the sex that you have. And what they'll describe is, well, it feels like it's all about him. There's nothing in it for me. I'm in pain most of the time. I don't feel confident with it. Like I never orgasm and so then it's like, okay, so why would you expect that you would crave that experience? 


00:23:58    Alyssa

All checks out. 


00:23:58    Vanessa

Like that doesn't make any sense to crave it. Yeah. So the, the great part of conversation four is that by finding ways to experience more pleasure with sex, you're going to have more enjoyable experiences and also have more desire to be intimate as well. So this conversation, we really get into the nitty gritty of like, what makes sex feel good for us? What is it that we're looking to experience? And we also break down the orgasm gap. So the book is meant to be inclusive for couples of any orientation and arrangement and all of that. But we thought it was really important to talk about in male-female relationships, the unfortunate reality that men are having way more orgasms than women. And so actually maybe this whole idea that we have about women having lower sex drives than men, maybe this is actually a problem of women not getting as much enjoyment out of sex as men. 


00:24:53    Alyssa

Sure, yeah, I mean, it checks out. Right, if you're having an orgasm every time, it's like, of course you want to keep having sex. Yeah. Just like, period. 


00:25:03    Xander

Yeah, I mean, again, the problem is that in a way we've all been set up for failure in terms of the way that we see sex portrayed. I mean, like, as a man, I can tell you it is, it's not a malicious, It's not a malicious thing of like, oh yeah, we're just gonna do the thing that is good for me. It's that, you know, since like before puberty, people see sex scenes on TV, right? And It's like, it's only portrayed in one way, right? Like they're tearing each other's clothes off. They're probably like, you know, in missionary position, there's the couple pumps, everybody orgasms, everyone's happy. And so when you've seen that repetitively, like hundreds and hundreds of times, it sinks into you, right? And then like, and then very often, you know, in our earlier sexual experiences, we're doing what we think is the right thing to do. And you know, often, you know, our partner, if it's not working for them, they don't really know that there's other options. It's not often that the other person that's on the first time is like, yeah, that didn't really work for me. Usually it's like, okay, well, let's just keep trying and see what happens. And so men tend to get the idea that, okay, yeah, it seems like what I'm doing is working. And then, you know, eventually if you ever start talking about this, it can be hard because it's like, wait, what, what happened? What about all those other experiences I had? So it's just this compounding problem. 


00:26:32    Alyssa

Sure. And I'm sure also because your intent is everyone has a good time, when the conversation comes up and it's like, not everyone's having the same amount of good time, that it's being able to like look at impact versus intent there of like, well, that's not what I'm trying to do. And just the emotional journey of that. 


00:26:52    Vanessa

Yeah, so in that chapter, like we, I think it's really valuable to have that one in particular written by the two of us. And we share our own story of early in our relationship, how we really miscommunicated about like my orgasm and pleasure and I was left feeling like Xander didn't really care about my experience. So I think we break it down in a way that's very non shaming so you can read it with your partner and you're not having to tell them like, hey, actually the last 10 years I've been hating it and you're not good. 


00:27:20    Xander

And everything you're doing sucks. 


00:27:23    Vanessa

You're never gonna have a conversation like that in sex talks, but it's a way of kind of resetting things and saying, oh, like look at what happened for them. And like, oh wow, I didn't realize it works like this. Or that's an interesting way of approaching it. So it just opens up the opportunity for you guys to reset your sex life a bit, but without feeling ashamed or embarrassed that anybody's been doing anything wrong. 


00:27:45    Xander

Yeah. You can, you can blame us. 


00:27:47    Alyssa

Yeah. It's always nice to have a scapegoat. Yeah, that's so helpful because I think that emotional part and I think also in hetero relationships that it can be hard on the female side to address the conversation if you're like, I don't want to hurt his feelings, right? Like I don't and and and so I think a lot of folks stay silent. One of the questions that came up was specifically about this. Like I don't want to hurt his feelings. I don't want him to think like this hasn't been great, but like also this hasn't been great. 


00:28:18    Vanessa

So we talk about feedback in that conversation. And this is one of the areas where most of us get so anxious. Like when we think about giving feedback to our partner, we're picturing it in our heads as, you know, me having to say to Xander, like, it's not good and I don't like it and fix it now. 


00:28:34    Xander

And everything you've been doing for 10 years is wrong. 


00:28:38    Vanessa

But that is not the only way to give feedback. It's not our recommended way of giving feedback. So we walk you through what we call positively pleasurable feedback, which is finding a way to ask for more of what you want and you like, rather than focusing on the things that you don't like and that aren't working for you. 


00:28:55    Xander

And then giving positive reinforcement when those good things do happen. 


00:29:00    Vanessa

So I'll give you a classic example. One of the biggest complaints that we hear from women is he's always going so fast. It's like we start kissing and 30 seconds later, he's trying to move on to intercourse and like, I want to slow down. So of course, if you frame it to your partner, it's like, dude, slow down. Why are you in such a freaking rush? Like, I don't like that. Of course, that's going to hurt his feelings, make him feel defensive, make him, you know, feel upset. But instead, what if you said something like this? Like, you know what turns me on so much? It makes me feel so good when you go slow, when you like touch me all over my body, you're kissing me all over my body and you just get me worked up to the point where I'm like dying for more. That is so hot. Like what guy is not gonna be turned on by that? 


00:29:48    Xander

Yeah, you just given him the cheat code for, oh, this is, oh, if I do this, that is how she is going to feel like, oh, yeah, like, no, duh I'm going to do that. 


00:29:59    Alyssa



00:29:59    Vanessa

You can, you know, you can phrase things like that. Like, it's okay if he's never gone slow, but you're still, you're phrasing in a, in a way that makes him feel like he's already won. Like, oh, it turns me on so much when you do that. He's not going to come back at you with like, oh, but I never do that. He's going to be like, oh, okay, 


00:30:15    Vanessa



00:30:15    Alyssa

Done and done. Perfect. I think that's so helpful. And I'm jazzed for folks to be able to get this book to have more examples in their hands. One of the desire or the pleasure questions that had come in was around specifically in those seasons where it's like, I'm exhausted. And like, maybe it's a combo of desire and pleasure here of like, nothing feels like I'm just so tired. I don't want to be touched. I've been touched by a kid all day. And all I want to do is go to sleep. And like, I want to want to have sex, but like, I don't want to have sex right now. And that one came up a few times in a few different words And kind of like what to do in that season, because I'm going to break it to a lot of folks, like some kids don't sleep through the night for like a year, right? And like then it still comes and flows and like, it is exhausting. And if you're nursing and like someone's always on your boob. Like it is, there's a lot of like physical stuff that goes into parenting that a lot of folks have been leaving the day and just being like, I'm giving everything I physically can and I don't have anything left and I want to have something left, but I just don't in this season. 


00:31:33    Vanessa

Yeah. Yeah. So we talk about being touched out, you know, just being exhausted in conversation three. I think what we always like to start with is normalizing. So I think parents are just not prepared for the changes that kids bring to their sex life. Like, if you really think about it, all that you got was the six week checkup of your doctor saying like, okay, you probably won't die if you have sex at this point. You know, so it creates this expectation that like, oh, okay, six weeks is just supposed to all go back to normal, right? No, it does not. Like everything in your life changes when you have kids and your sex life is no exception. But I think so many parents just don't realize that. And then they feel this guilt and shame. Why didn't it go back to normal? Why do I never seem to want it? So part of it is recognizing, like, if that's what's going on for you, you are normal, you are absolutely not alone. Pretty much Every parent is going to go through exactly what you guys are going through. So that in and of itself can have a really big difference or have a really big impact. So from there, it turns into how can you guys support each other in creating the time and the energy for connection. So a lot of parenting is like the logistical aspects of it. And what we hear so often in male-female partnerships, you know, we often hear from the woman saying, I feel like I'm doing the majority of it alone. You know, I've got so much mental load. That's another topic we cover in that conversation. I feel like I've got all the mental load. And, you know, maybe even they're saying my partner's a nice guy, like he's trying, but like, I feel like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. And so part of these conversations is being able to talk about those dynamics and recognizing sex is not just about us being hot and horny for each other. It's also about, do we feel like we're actually operating as a team? Do I feel like I have a partner or do I feel like I have another child? You know, so being able to have those like deeper conversations. And I think that's the really cool thing about getting comfortable talking about sex. Like if you can get comfortable talking about this topic that is so taboo and has so much shame around it, like you can talk about anything. These conversations about mental load and being touched out and sharing responsibilities, they become a lot easier in this context. 


00:34:00    Xander

Actually, just hearing you talk about that right now, I thought, I mean, I think there's a really interesting parallel in terms of the sort of social taboo around how we talk about sex and also how we talk about parenting in terms of like with sex, there's sort of an accepted set of things that we see and that we talk about. And then, you know, we start doing it and we kind of are confronted with the reality of, wait, I don't really know what I'm doing. And this maybe isn't actually the way I thought it was going to be. And, you know, in terms of parenting too, There's a lot of stuff that parents don't end up being very prepared for, like being touched out, like Vanessa was just talking about. It's like we have this way that we talk about it, you know, with our friends or in general, we see it portrayed and then it happens for us. And it's like, oh, okay, there's, there's all these other things I wasn't prepared for. So it's easy to have expectations that are different from the reality. And that's when all these tough emotions like resentment or shame come up for us. 


00:35:01    Alyssa

Oh, I dig that so much. And that like, what a beautiful parallel. Because yeah, I think also nothing ever is like, oh, I fully expected everything that just happened. Often that's not the case. And being able to have those hard conversations across the board, whether it is sex or parenting or any other topic that's coming up. I found for myself in the like physical seasons that the connection mattered so much more to me because I left my six week appointment with an anal fissure still. And I was like, oh, nobody's coming near me right now. Like I can't even sit right now. Like that's, that's not happening. But the, but still felt really connected to my partners actually really through postpartum. And we leaned heavy into like the other ways that we connect and like the little ways that we connect. And for me, there was like the importance of that rises when I'm not in a space where I want physical intimacy, I do feel touched out or I feel exhausted. I feel like there's fluid coming from every hole already. And like, that's not what I'm looking for. Uh, that, that connection part really like trumps everything else for me. 


00:36:14    Vanessa

Yeah. That it's interesting. Like, I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions that people have of our work. They think like, okay, you guys are doing all this sex therapy and relationship stuff. And they think that we're saying you're supposed to have all the sex all the time. 


00:36:28    Xander

Yeah, more is better. Just do it. Just do it and you'll be happy. 


00:36:31    Vanessa

And that is so not true. So we have this really deep belief that there is no magic number that's going to work for every couple and that there are seasons of life where sex is going to take a backseat and that's okay. But again, it really does come down to the communication. So if you're in a really tough season of parenting, you're in a long dry spell, and you guys are not talking about it, it's very easy for you each to start making stories in your head about what that means Like, oh, he hasn't initiated with me in weeks. Actually, I don't even remember the last time we had sex. Is he missing it at all? Is he still attracted to me? Maybe he doesn't like the way my body is looking now that I've given birth. Like, we can go to some dark places in our heads, but if we are in a difficult season, we're in a dry spell, but we're talking about it with each other and saying, and this is a script that people can use like with their partners after listening to this episode, like our sex life is not where I want it to be. I know that we are not having a lot of it right now. And I know that there's just so much on our plates. Like we are exhausted. We don't have much time. We don't have much support. So I want us to get out of this season. I want us to get back to prioritizing physical intimacy and having a lot of sex with each other. I know we're not there right now, but I just want you to know that that's where I'm wanting us to get to. It's like just that acknowledgement is so powerful. 


00:38:02    Alyssa

Yeah, I love it. And I love the acknowledgement of the stories we tell ourselves. I married a human who like would rather never put me in an uncomfortable situation than put me potentially in any sort of uncomfortable situation, right? So like for him not initiating will always trump initiating and maybe I don't feel well enough or whatever, like especially around pregnancy and birth. And so the stories can compound, right? Like, yeah, there's body changes, all that jazz. And that open communication is so crucial for that internal monologue that's happening, turning it into a dialogue. Rad, okay, what's next? 


00:38:43    Vanessa

Well, there's actually a nice little overlap into conversation five. It's exploration. What should we try next? And one of the themes that we cover in that conversation is expanding our definition of sex. So we found that as couples get further into their relationships, It's like the window of what sex entails really starts to narrow down. So like you can ask a woman, like, what does sex look like? She can script it out for you. We make out for about 10 seconds. There's like five seconds of boob fondling, 20 seconds later, like we're on intercourse. It's like, we have this very predictable routine that most of us are actually pretty bored by, but we feel nervous about like trying new things with each other and shaking that up. So this one is all about exploring how to actually like try out new things, like mix up the routine. But we also talk a lot about like one of our big mottos is everything counts as sex. So if you're in a really challenging season, like what you were talking about, anal fissures, nobody's going here. They're like, that's fine and understandable. And like intercourse may feel completely off the table. But intercourse is not the only way to have sex with your partner. It's not the only way to have intimacy with your partner. So if we expand that definition and we say, yeah, like sometimes cuddling with each other naked, that can count as sex or I'm going to keep you company while you take care of yourself. That counts as sex. So when we put more options on the table in that way, it's like we're bringing the bar down, making it feel more manageable and more reasonable. And when you have more options, you're more likely to say yes to one of those than feeling like, Oh God, it's intercourse or bust. Like, no, I'm not, I'm not there yet. 


00:40:30    Alyssa

Sure. And it's that like mundane routine intercourse or bust. 


00:40:35    Vanessa

Yeah, which again, nobody's getting excited about all interconnected. 


00:40:40    Alyssa

Right, right, right. I love that. And I think like, this is one that I think for a lot of people can feel uncomfortable, the exploration part, because it's vulnerable, right? To like, do the unknown. How's it gonna go? Maybe it also sucks. Maybe I hate it. Maybe it's abort mission, right? Like the fear of the unknown, I think sometimes we can stick with what we know, even if it's not working, because of the fear of the unknown. 


00:41:06    Xander

Well, here's a really interesting thing about exploration. And I like how you called out the fear of the unknown is that I think a lot of us, we hear the word exploration and we do jump very far to the unknown. Oh, that must mean we need to try, you know, we need to have a threesome. We need to do BDSM or we're like tying each other up and hanging from the rafters or whatever it is. 


00:41:30    Vanessa

And those things are cool if you want to do that. 


00:41:33    Xander

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And what we recommend is actually starting with stuff that you do already know and making small variations, whether that's a certain position that you really like. Try adjusting, you know, what arm you're holding your weight on, or, you know, push up, lean on your elbows, shift a little bit, see how that feels. Or it can be thinking back to, what are some of the things that we used to do when we first started dating that we don't do very often anymore. Can we pull some things, some activities out of the vault and reincorporate those? And that actually helps us build that confidence of, oh yeah, we're doing new things without it being like, oh, we're doing new things that are completely unknown. And I'm like, totally brave and able to do that. It's like, oh yeah, no, I can do something we haven't done in a while. I can make a small adjustment and maybe it doesn't go perfect. That's fine. That's what happens when we try new things, but we did it together and we felt good about doing it. So we try to ease people in that way. 


00:42:38    Alyssa

I love that, that it isn't this like huge jump. It's like the month of January, where you're like, I'm gonna overhaul my whole life. Yeah. I've been going to the gym at all, but now I'm going to go seven days a week. Right? Like, yeah, that jump of like a huge transition. I think that's where we often fail. Cause we're like, that feels too intimidating. I love that. Like easy entry, if you will. 


00:43:01    Vanessa

Yeah. Easy, we're all about the easy entry. Yeah, it's another practical thing that you can do. It's just like, take some time to think about what are those things that we used to do that we haven't done in a while? Like trying new things doesn't have to mean brand new. So maybe you guys used to do a lot more oral and haven't done oral in a while or used to play with toys or used to have sex outside of the bedroom or a different position. 


00:43:25    Xander

Different time of the day. 


00:43:26    Vanessa

Yeah. So bringing back any of those things that you just haven't done in a while. 


00:43:31    Alyssa

Yeah. I dig that so much. Um, Fun, hot parent tip. One of the things I found that's my favorite move is a daytime babysitter because I am not exhausted yet. Cheers. Rad, I'm so jazzed for folks to be able to go through this. I think it's something that, like I said at the beginning, like we just don't talk about enough in parenthood and it gets swept under the rug. And then it's a conversation you talk to your friends about and not to your partner about and just compile. So I'm so grateful for folks to be able to access Sex Talks: The Five Conversations that will Transform your Love Life. Y'all can get this book wherever books are sold. And thank you, Vanessa and Xander. What, as we leave folks, what's your one hope for someone picking up this book? If you're like, this is the one thing I want them to get out of this. 


00:44:27    Vanessa

I don't know if I can narrow it down to one, but the goals of the book are, You know, we really want people to understand that whatever challenges they're going through in their sex life are normal and they're not alone. Like it's completely normal to feel like sex has just gotten so much more complicated And to also feel inspired and motivated to make actual changes. I know for parents in particular, you're so exhausted and overwhelmed that sometimes it just feels easier to put your head down and get through it. And sometimes there are just seasons of life where that's the reality. And we just also want to inspire people to remember that like your love is special. The connection that you have is special and it's worth whatever energy and attention that you can give to it. 


00:45:13    Xander

Yeah, I mean, I just want people to know like that. Yeah, I think a lot of people look at, you know, self-help or stuff like this is like, Oh my God, I'm going to have to change everything in my life. It's going to be like hours every day working on this stuff. We've tried to make this so easy and approachable. I mean, we got a, we got a DM from someone last week who was saying, you know, they got the book, they've started going through some of the exercises with their partner. You know, they're spending a couple minutes a day having a couple talks about this stuff And like, things are by no means perfect yet, but they are feeling more connected. They're having more fun. And what this woman told us in the DM is she was like, you know, my 13 year old son said to my husband the other day, dad, I can see you laughing more. Just like imagine what that would feel like. Like if you were in a place where your kids are not seeing you laughing, not seeing you have a good time and just being able to talk about a couple of things, a couple minutes of the day, start feeling better. Like that has such a ripple effect and can impact, you know, not only yourself and your partner and your relationship, but your entire family. 


00:46:29    Alyssa

Yeah, we could all use a little more joy. I dig that. I dig that. Thank you all so much. Where can folks connect with you? 


00:46:37    Vanessa

Well, they can find us on Instagram. We're most active there. We're @vanessaandxander. Xander is with an X. We show up in stories every day just with our mission of making sex feel on intimidating and approachable. And we are also over at We have a ton of guides and courses there. We love breaking down all the like technique, the nitty gritty. So whenever you've got the energy to explore, like, let's explore foreplay a little bit more. Let's explore intercourse more. We have connection challenges and sex challenges. So those are all at 


00:47:12    Xander

And then yeah, like you already said, you can pick up Sex Talks anywhere books are sold on, but we would recommend going over to our book page, which is because after you purchase, you can fill out a little form with your order information and we'll send you a free workbook. And of course we have the links to all the retailers on that page as well. So get your workbook. There's a lot of awesome stuff that we added that's not in the book. 


00:47:38    Alyssa

Sweet. Thank you so much. 


00:47:40    Vanessa

Thanks for having us. 


00:47:41    Xander

Thank you!


00:47:43    Alyssa

I wanted to let you know that we have a special preorder bonus happening right now for the book. So if you snag Tiny Humans, Big Emotions, my book that's publishing with Harper Collins in October. If you go snag it right now at, then come right back there after you purchase it and give me your name and email and your order number, and I will send you a guide to surviving summer. What does it really look like to navigate the schedule changes, the transitions, the sun changes, the back to school stuff as it comes up. We are here to help you navigate this season, and I have a complete guide for you. Head over to to purchase Tiny Humans, Big Emotions, and then let me know so I can send you that bonus.


00:50:08    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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