The “S” topic: When one or both partners shies away from talking about sεχ, it’s usually because they are worried about offending or hurting the other person’s feelings. Instead, needs are swept under the rug, resulting in stilted, infrequent sεχ, Duclos says. Developing open communication without fear of judgment is essential in all areas of discussion. “When couples develop a process for discussing their lives and needs, it paves the way for talking about subjects that may have previously felt ‘out of bounds,’ such as those messy, unpleasant fantasies and expectations,” says Duclos.
It’s not too late: Even if you and your partner have established some not-so-great communication patterns, it’s not too late to turn things around. A simple strategy to practice before you engage in conversation is to start from a positive place. Instead of focusing on what is wrong with your partner or the situation, ask yourself, “what’s right with this situation?” Dr. Bais says this positive reframing is a conscious effort we make to list and think about the great and positive things about our partner, which automatically puts us in a healthier, happier frame of mind. “This happier place is subconsciously conveyed in the micro-expressions on our face and our vocal intonation, and are picked up by the other person. You can almost say anything—it’s all in how you say it,” says Dr. Bais. When you come from a cooperative place and pay attention to how you phrase what you want to convey, your good intentions will be picked up by your partner. Read the two examples from Dr. Bais and think about which one will get better results.
Scenario #1: Partner comes home from work and the other partner launches right into being tight on money and how the partner isn’t making enough money.
Scenario #2: After rest and a nice dinner, ask your partner if it’s a good time to chat. Pleasantly share financial goals and ask for help devising a strategy to meet them.