Communication needs to be the heart of every relationship. No one can read anyone’s mind and it’s important to know and understand what your partner is thinking and feeling. The only way that will happen is to be an active, calm, open-minded listener. How we interact about issues such as time spent together or away from one another, commitment, money, health, our kids, family, friends, trust, and intimacy affects our ability to develop and maintain lasting marriages and relationships.
We have found, since beginning this new journey, that communication is a huge part of an enforced chastity relationship. A lot of things could go wrong if you don’t take time to talk about each other’s expectations, goals and fears.
It’s usually hard to bring up intimate subjects with those you care about. There’s a lot of risk involved with these conversations. Just because the topic is intimate and the person is someone you love, don’t back down from bringing up the things that are important to you.
When it comes to talking with your spouse about sex, here’s a few things to keep in mind.
Timing is key. It’s not a good idea to bring up the subject of sex while having sex (this is different than talking about the current encounter and emotions involved which enhances the experience). If you want to discuss some unresolved aspect of your sexual relationship or a disappointment or frustration, during sex is not a good time for the discussion. Both of you will likely be less open and objective about the conversation. It’s also not a good idea to bring up touchy subjects at bedtime.
Another important thing is to be honest. If you are going to address this subject, be upfront and honest. This may seem like common sense but there are many people who resort to code words or only bring things up half-way. Even if it may not seem so, your partner will respect you more for it in the long run.
Avoid placing blame and attacking your partner, a nice calm conversation is what you’re looking for, not confrontation. It’s easy to address this kind of topic with statements like “Why do you always want to …” or “You always seem to initiate when I’m…” When a person feels attacked they’ll respond defensively, it’s part of a person’s survival nature. During these kinds of personal discussions, take care of yourself. Talk about you, your experience, what you’re thinking, and what you’re feeling. This may still impact your partner and might even hurt a bit, but it definitely increases the chances that you’ll be heard. Purposefully hear their side of things, be clear on their perspective. This is especially good if you have a partner who’s reluctant to have this conversation. Slowing down to really listen can help keep things calm, though not always less emotionally charged. But the less reactive you are, the more likely a good resolution will result.
Be sure to fill the conversation with respect. Avoid talking down to your partner and never assume they know what you’re thinking. Also avoid interrupting them while they’re speaking. No one wants to feel misunderstood, unappreciated, disregarded or disrespected.
You’d think it would be easier to bring up a subject like sex. Sex talk is all over in our culture. There are sex tips in magazines and on talk-shows. It’s pretty rare to actually see examples of real couples discussing sex. “Talking about sex as a personal, intimate experience with your partner is a totally different kind of talk,” says Barry McCarthy, a Washington, D.C., psychologist and sex therapist who has written books about nonsexual marriages and how to prevent them. “You have to be open to talking about what you value and your vulnerability,” he says. No one teaches us how to actually talk about such sensitive subjects. Not just sexual subjects but any emotionally charged topics.
Early on in a relationship we are “drunk in love” and talking about sex is fun and arousing. Everything is exciting and new but in a long-term committed relationship, talking about intimacy is more difficult. Sexual problems can crop up for any number of reasons. Anything from stress at work, child-rearing, lack of time, medical issues, past sexual trauma or aging can cause issues in our intimate relationships. Many couples get stuck in a rut where sex is all or nothing.
I think having trouble discussing problems in your sex life with your spouse is pretty common. Just try to remember that the discussion may take more than one conversation. You don’t have to figure it all out at once. It is very important to be gentle with your partner. A really great line to get your conversation started would go a little something like this… ‘I love you, and I’d like to feel more connected to you.’
Once we got through the initial conversation and got those communication floods gates opened things flowed much more easily. We continue to keep that communication very open and non-judgemental. One way we keep this level of communication going in our relationship is by using a notebook as a journal. It’s been a pretty fantastic way to bring up some of the more challenging subjects we may run into.
Communication is something I try to encourage in any relationship. I can’t see a relationship surviving the long-term trials without strong communication.