Monday, May 03, 2010

Talking Turkey When You’re Feeling Like a Chicken

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis

My heart beat fast. I didn't really want to talk about it, but knew I needed to. How could things ever get better if I didn't say anything? How could I know what he was thinking if I didn't ask? Was my timidity causing me to keep something from him? Wouldn't that eventually hurt our relationship? Yet this was so personal. It made me so vulnerable. Did I really want to know his honest opinion? Could I handle the truth?

I approached the subject after we'd gone to bed. In the dark. Where I didn't have to face him or see his reaction. But bringing up a tender subject when he was ready to call it a day annoyed him. We can talk about anything else. For hours. Even late at night, after we're already in bed. But this topic. . .wow, we've struggled with this. He gets defensive. My feelings get hurt. And we end up back to back, me wanting to kick him out of bed as he falls asleep too easily, while I lay awake stewing.

Why is it so hard to talk about sex?

It exposes more of us than we like, doesn't it? But if nothing is said, the problem doesn't go away. It grows. And if it's not addressed, soon it creeps into other areas of our marriage, building up walls as we learn to hide our true thoughts from each other. It's important to spill our guts, friends, especially about sex.

But how?!

In my own experience, it's never easy, but if I remember a few communication principles, it can be bearable and lead to good resolution.

I need to swallow my pride. I want my marriage to be the best it can be. If I am not willing to risk some brief embarrassment to make it so, I am selfishly hampering our relationship. I love him more than my ego. My actions should prove it.

I need to consider him in my approach. I need to think of him in my timing, not saving my bombshell until bedtime. This never turns out well. So now I say to him, "I want to talk about _______. When would be a good time to do this?" He doesn't feel attacked and has a chance to consider how he feels about it before I expect answers. My old ineffective way of bringing up sexual matters was pretty unfair. I had all the advantages. He was left feeling blindsided with no time to form an opinion.

Don't do all the talking. LISTEN too. This is pretty self-explanatory. If you've swallowed your pride enough to bring up a problem, be sure to hear what he says about it! Ask questions if you don't understand what he's saying. And above all, don't take what he says personally (I've learned this the hard way, people-trust me in this.). Hear him out before you react.

The more we talk about it, the easier it gets.
Just like the hardest part of peeling an orange is getting it started, once ground has been broken, once you've uttered those difficult words, the next time isn't as painful and awkward. The only way to improve your communication is to keep working at it.

Here's the bottom line. It's TOUGH to talk about sex (BELIEVE me, I know!), but if I truly love my husband and value our relationship, I am willing to risk the conflict and momentary discomfort to make things better. After all, when things improve for me in the bedroom, they get better for him too, don't they?

Take a deep breath and venture forth, my friends. You can do it! Your marriage will thank you (and probably your husband too!).

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Constance said...

WOW, I am not the only one who stinks at their timing! I did the same thing, brought it (whatever was bugging me) up at bedtime when he was ready to go to sleep. My feelings would get hurt, he'd think I was being selfish b/c I was ignoring his needs (for sleep) and things would not get resolved. The resentment grew as did the walls and soon I was just plain angry! And all the while, satan was dancing with glee!

Once again, I believe communication is crucial. As you learn better to read one another, you know the best approach and timing to discuss those issues. There isn't anyone else, even my girlfriends who know the deepest stuff about me that Dave knows! Back in the day, I would never have allowed myself to be vulnerable like that with him. He has my complete trust, I know my heart is safe with him and that he would never hurt me on purpose. I also choose to focus on the positives rather than the momentary negatives (we all have selfish times). Remembering that gives me the ability to extend grace and mercy easier!

April said...

I struggle with finding the right timing, too. Unfortunately, for me, usually the dam breaks when I become annoyed about something else and the poor man gets flooded with gallons of irritations instead of the one issue I really wanted to discuss. For the record, my husband, like most men, shuts down completely when you throw too much emotional stuff at him. We're both trying to do better with timing and setting aside time to talk - and it's working!

Julie The Surrendered Scribe said...

Wonderful Tami! All these tips are just perfect, and it's true, the more we discuss, the easier it gets. Loved this!

Jaime Kubik said...

Wise words from a wise woman! Great post!

e-Mom said...

So good Tami!!! I sure can relate to your thoughts about planning ahead for talking about intimacy. For some reason, I always want to bring up touchy subjects at bedtime, and that's the worst time for e-Dad. I've learned to stay away from pillowtalk, but I've never thought about pre-scheduling THE TALK. Like it a lot.

Swallowing pride and listening (so good) are excellent too.

For some, this was not an easy topic to write about. Thanks for fearlessly diving in today, Tami. (And thanks again for letting me post your beautiful poem.)

Love you! (((Hugs)))

Brenda said...

Great post!

Mac an Rothaich said...

YES! You had so much more to say then I did, good for you. It is so true that the more you talk about it the easier it gets!

Jona said...

good points! i admire your honesty. thanks for sharing :D


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