Friday, April 9, 2010

Communication and Sex

I was happy to see that people are voting on the website for topics about talking to your partner to find out what they want and how to tell them what you want. There were three topics that were the same, just worded different: How to Find out What Your Partner Wants in Bed/How to Act Out Your Fantasies/How to Tell Your Partner Your Fantasies, but those all equal to, drum roll please, communication.

It is extremely important to communicate with your partner. I will note I am not a doctor or therapist, so I'm only giving guidelines to help you open up the channels of communication. If the problems with communication run deeper, you really should consult with your doctor/therapist.

With that out of the way, I am a research hound, so this was fun for me. I am also in a committed relationship, and no matter how long we've been together, we can always communicate better. So, as I'm writing this, I'm learning a lot on how to be a better partner as well. Another important thing to think about is the communication is about sex, which can be fun, but it also is very exposing, literally and figuratively.

I know that men and women have different ways to approach things, but at the end of the day you both need to open up and talk, so these steps are for both of the sexes.

Preparing for the Talk
The first article I read about communication was titled: How to Communicate with Your Partner. They agreed that communication is extremely important in relationships and gave a list of good tips, but none that really fit here except this: “Approach gently but do not start with negative warnings that this conversation is going to have a negative (or weird) twist to it.” Any start to a conversation that is important is really hard to delve into, but if you let them know it's about sex...I would think that would be a more welcome idea than money, bills, etc.

On Mama's Health, they recommend to “clarify the issue yourself”. That means to know exactly what you want to talk about. Think about it, write it down and be honest with yourself. If you want to try a role-play where he is the plumber and you're the lonely housewife write down the details, because if he agrees, he'll want know what to do.

Make time for this conversation. Most of the time we don't...and that is where feelings and thoughts are left unsaid, making each other wonder what the other is thinking.

Starting the Talk
Make sure that you and your partner are both ready for a conversation. If either one of you have had a bad day, talk about that first. Once you and/or they feel better, it will then be easier to start the conversation you want to have. Next, lay down some ground rules. Cory Silverberg had an amazing article about this topic, one section really popped out to me: “Respecting Differences in Sexual Interests...everyone needs to agree not to belittle, shame, or otherwise laugh at their partner’s sexual interests. This doesn’t mean you have to like them or act them out. But if your partner takes the risk of exposing a sexual desire, you need to consider that kind of sharing a compliment, and be respectful, even if you want nothing to do with the actual proposal.” Once those rules are laid down, you can start sharing.

The Talk
Take a deep breath, let it out. Repeat if necessary. As important as it is to be honest with yourself, be honest with your partner. Before you say anything that may sound negative, always use the Communication Sandwich: give two bits of positive (we have such a great time in bed, you are an amazing lover), the challenge (but I think we can spice things up) and then another two bits of positive (and I know you love lingerie and me in it). Then continue on (how about you wearing an outfit for me?). Now, they may or may not respond right away. If there is no response except a blank stare, let them know, again, you are just sharing your mind and you don't need an answer right way, although no would be fine. If need be, say “I'll give you some time to think it over, how about we discuss this later”.

The important part, make sure and discuss it again. Make another time, have a sit and gently remind them what you had talked about and just ask if they have thought about it. Remember to have your details ready as they may start to ask some questions.

Some of you are sitting there and thinking “Great, I know how to talk to them, but how do I get them to talk to me?” Honestly, you taking the first step can help them open up. I'll get a little personal here to help out.

My Story
As my husband is quite private, I will not divulge all the details as it might embarrass him (I learned this by him communicating his feelings about discretion). I decided I wanted to tell him about a fantasy I had. I was quite nervous as this was early in our relationship and even though I'm usually quite an open talker, this was hard! I started the conversation with “I have something I want to share with you. It's been hard to get up the courage to do so, but we have a commitment to always be honest and to respect the other persons thoughts.” I then said what my fantasy was. He took a deep breath and smiled...he was so happy I could share that with him. Now, it was something he had no inclination whatsoever to do, but he listened, communicated back how he felt and we went on from there.

He has since let in on some fantasies of his own and really has just opened up to new possibilities. A lot of that has to do with me working on my listening skills, learning his subtle hints that he wants to talk and that I validate that his opinion matters to me. Our relationship has really blossomed as this initial communication about sex has went into all the realms of our marriage. It really took one person to start it, but it has taken both of us to continue this. If one of us is having a bad day, it takes one to talk and the other to listen...the same goes into the sexual realm.

Sex is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, but if you or your partner don't communicate, it can become boring and you might even stop having sex with each other and look elsewhere. Although it is just one part of your relationship, it is pretty important. Remember that you and your partner have valid feelings, desires and wants and all you have to do is listen and be respectful of them. Who knows how far your relationship as a whole can become by just communicating.


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