Remember a while back when I boldly stated:Shared victories would eliminate bedroom blahs and spark up a connection that had gone cold.
I have a confession.
I was wrong.
The secret to a great relationship and mind blowing, soul shaking sex is difficult conversations.
At minimum, twice weekly.
Like most wonderful things in my life, this little gem was stumbled upon while I was doing something unrelated and in no way connected to any other part of my life.
During a workshop, the facilitator shared a personal anecdote to why his first marriage crumbled and his second one thrived.
Apparently, in marriage one, there was little conflict and a whole lot of “being nice”.
Rather than do the dance of avoidance, our facilitator suggested that couples who wanted to improve their relationships, sexually and otherwise, have difficult conversations.
There are times for compassionate listening without suggesting a “quickfix” (men I am speaking to you).
There are also times to move beyond our socialization that says be nice and don’t hurt anyone’s feelings (women I’m looking at you ).
In my experience , one or two difficult chats on a weekly basis does the trick.
Anything more and you’ve got a bitchfest wherein every interaction is intense and potentially overwhelming.
Anything less means there is some serious avoidance eating away at your marriage.
Most relationships are maintained via silent agreements- don’t call me on my shit and dear god I will not call you on yours.
While I have seen multiple relationships use these guidelines (some for more than three decades), I have yet to see any that are growth inducing and liberatory.
Often times we reward longevity and disregard quality.
It is more difficult to measure and record quality.
For some reason, we believe that there are tricks and outside forces who will give us tips, magic items that will instantly make our relationships suck less.
And yet the thing we avoid could provide the most productivity and usher in an inordinate amount of change.
I often wonder why people refuse to talk about anything that’s important.
I often wonder when and why people avoid certain conversations.
As a culture, we refuse to discuss what really matters thereby allowing misery and a serious, unspoken yearning for long term connections.
To avoid feedback that would uncover perceived personal failings and a litany of “not good enoughs”, we create all sorts of interesting and welcome distractions.
At what point to people agree on a set of livable “fuck its”.
I can pinpoint the exact moment in each of my intimate relationships that I said: Fuck it!This idiot is never gonna change; he will also be a racist.
This was usually the time I made a new set of agreements by convincing myself that things weren’t so bad or that they could be worse.
My initial relationship was rife with things we couldn’t talk about.
Not once did we have any “difficult” conversations.
We had laughs (many at my expense) and ridiculousness.
But never any conversations that would bring us any closer emotionally or provide any true intimacy.
I suppose at 19, you decide that tough conversations are to be avoided.
Most people falsely believe that relationships should be conflict and confrontation free.
My misguided approach to relationship building and maintenance was that relationships were places you went to avoid all things that were unpleasant or upsetting.
You certainly didn’t seek out problems and try to “work them through”.
My warped sense of relationships came from watching people around me not take problems head on.
My young eyes witnessed- blame, finger pointed, misdirected anger and avoidance.
The exciting visual of two adults sitting together and deciding what approach makes the most sense would have provided a different set of tools.
When things got hard for the people around me, they reached for either the bible/ patriarchy and stereotypes and or the powerful twin pinnacles- shame and guilt.
It would have been great to see a couple reach towards one another and say: Let’s talk about what is really going on and what is truly on my heart.
How do we go from sharing deep dark secrets to putting not one but several things on the shelf that can not be discussed?
As time continues and more emotions are shared (vulnerability increases), we often feel we have too much to lose and dismiss real conversations in an effort to support our relationship.
How do couples who start out wanting the best for each other and their coupling jump to an inability to discuss tough topics?
Go for the discomfort and uncertainty that real conversations provide.
It might improve your sex life.