We're happy to present this excerpt from one of our favorite sites, YourTango.
It's considered common knowledge that the things people fight over the most are sex and money. Did you know that it's not true? A recent survey conducted by YourTango revealed that the number one reason people fight is because they don't feel appreciated by their partner. Communication issues ranked second. Personally, I think if you don't feel appreciated by your partner, chances are pretty high that you're not communicating well, either.
Fighting about other things, like sex or money, is a symptom to a larger underlying problem: poor communication. Good communication is critical in all areas of life, but it's especially important when it comes to love and sex because romantic relationships are often the catalyst to help you heal childhood wounds. This also means they bring up all your insecurities, fears and unconscious expectations about love.
The good news is that clear communication is a learned skill. In fact, I wrote about it a couple of years ago here. I've often said that open, honest communication is critical to better relationships and better sex. Unfortunately, it's not taught in grade school and it's not something that most of us learned at home. We have to unlearn bad habits in order to engage in open, honest communication. Here are some tips:
Understand the way you and your partner process information. There are two types: internal and external processors. Internal processors will silently process a problem and won't speak until they have a clear solution. External processors talk their way into a solution. Usually, these opposite types end up in a relationship with each other. Knowing that your partner is an internal processor, for example, may keep you from feeling hurt when he doesn't open up to you immediately after an argument.
Ask for what you want. Don't expect your partner to be a mind reader. Don't withhold sex or affection because you're not getting what you want if you don't ask for it specifically. Do you want more frequent sex, longer foreplay, a particular position? Ask for it! Don't demand it...that's unlikely to be helpful. Talk about it before you're in bed and use your words to guide him during sex. Be specific and be supportive when he does what you've asked. This tip works everywhere...not just in the bedroom.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. There is a strong gender bias in communication. Men have been conditioned to make direct requests, while women have been conditioned not to directly ask for what they want. It's not fair, but it's generally true. Learning how to speak your truth, without shaming your partner or yourself, is a valuable skill. Practice with small things, then take it into the bedroom.
'Fess up. Admit that you haven't been enjoying sex or that you've been withholding it (and explain why). Use "I" phrases to avoid blaming your partner. Explain how the current dynamic makes you feel. For example, you might say, "When you bring work home, I feel like you don't want to be intimate with me." Talking like this can be scary because you have to be willing to be vulnerable.
Written by Johanna Lyman for YourTango.
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