Good communication is crucial to healthy sexual relating. You can greatly increase feelings of mutual respect, emotional closeness, and sexual pleasure when you and your partner communicate well with each other. Knowing how to talk openly and comfortably helps you solve sexual problems that come up from time to time in the normal course of an on-going intimate relationship.
Be patient with yourself and your partner as you work to develop new communication skills. It takes time and a lot of practice to open up emotionally and discuss personal topics in safe and sensitive ways.
The HealthySex™ Communications Guidelines
© 2007 Wendy Maltz and Larry Maltz, Maltz Counseling Associates, all rights reserved.
1. Both partners need to make a commitment to engage in a discussion about intimate concerns.
2. Choose a quiet time for discussion when you are not likely to be interrupted. Give your undivided attention to being with your partner.
3. Sit reasonably close to each other and maintain eye contact. Be aware of the tone and volume of your voice.
4. Avoid blaming, name-calling, accusations and sarcasm.
5. Deal with only one issue at a time.
6. State specifically and clearly what you feel and need. Use “I statements”, rather than “you statements.” (Example: Say “I felt rejected when you didn’t want to hug last night” rather than “You’re so cold; the way you treat me is cruel.”)
7. Maintain an optimistic perspective that change is possible. Avoid bringing up resentments from the distant past. Refrain from using the words “always” or “never”.
8. Listen to your partner. Strive to understand each other’s feelings and needs. Communicate that understanding to your partner. (You can communicate understanding and still have a different opinion or perspective than your partner).
9. When discussing sexual intimacy concerns, keep in mind that partners are apt to feel scared, embarrassed, or hurt. Emphasize what you like and what works well before making a new request or discussing something that bothers you.
10. Avoid getting sidetracked on irrelevant issues; “It happened in 2005.” “No, it was 2004.” Refrain from “I’m right, you’re wrong” arguments.
11. Explore and discuss various options for change. Work together to brainstorm how individual needs can be met and feelings addressed more effectively. Make the issue the “problem”, not each other.
12. See intimate problems as a normal, natural part of a relationship. Turn them into opportunities to learn and grow as a couple.
13. If you and your partner agree to a solution to the problem, try it out, then plan to discuss in the near future how the solution is working for both of you.
14. Give yourselves permission to table discussion of an issue if you feel no progress is being made. You each may get new insights and understandings thinking about it independently. Make sure you resume discussion within several days.
15. Seek professional help when needed. Don’t allow unresolved sexual issues to fester and erode your positive feelings for each other.