Good Communication Everywhere Else, but With Sex
“We Have Great Communication (But We Don’t Talk About Sex)”
I have heard this from so many of the couples who have I have worked with in therapy. This can feel really confusing. You might be able to talk and navigate through most issues in your relationship, but for some reason you struggle to talk about sex with each other.
Struggles with talking about sex can lead to defensiveness, avoidance, and resentment. All of these issues can lead to fights and frustration, but they can also lead to lead to shutting down and avoidance of conversations altogether.
Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding communication skills:
- Not fighting does not equal good communication. Some people believe that they have good communication because they don’t fight about things. However, several couples have good communication and then fight. The fight itself may be a breakdown, but not fighting at all may mean that you’re not sharing important elements of what is going on for you.
- Good communication means that you can share your feelings. In order to have good communication, you have to feel understood and understand your partner. A lot of times, people think sex should just work. When it doesn’t, it can make people believe that they’re sexually incompatible. But sex isn’t just physical. This is especially true in your sexual relationship with your partner. Therefore, it’s important to know how you feel and be able to share that with your partner. It’s also important to be able to listen to your partner about how they feel as well.
- Silence will fix nothing. It’s hard, but you have to walk into uncomfortable conversations. Sometimes this can mean that you need to learn how to walk through an attack-defend mode on the topic. It may mean that you need to practice understanding where your partner is coming from.
- Good communication doesn’t start with negotiation. A lot of people want to jump right into negotiating a change, especially when it comes to sex. There can be even more of a rush to jump to negotiation when you’re uncomfortable talking about the topic. That’s because it increases anxiety. So people are wanting to hurry up through the conversation. In order to compromise, you want to feel understood and your partner wants that too! If you have a period of arguing or fighting about the topic. Or you have a history of feeling shut down about the topic, it will take time to get to negotiating, because you have to build trust by feeling understood by your partner.
Keep in mind that when you haven’t practiced communicating around sex, the first times that you step into and stay on this topic, it can be pretty intense. You have to stay with it. Sometimes, you’ll feel like you’re making some progress, and other times it’ll feel like you’ve taken steps backwards.