Open, honest communication is often cited as the key ingredient in a successful relationship. We all want our partners to be truthful and authentic with us, to share in the good times and be there as support when the going gets tough, wanting to know each other’s deepest, darkest fears, wants, desires. Or do we?
The element which most of us overlook when lauding the benefits of open communication is the hearing part: are you really ready to hear what your partner is thinking?
“My partner would never understand,” is the phrase I hear the most when working with people who have yet to come out to their significant others about a hidden sexual desire or activity.
They do not believe or trust that their partners will say Yes to them upon hearing the information. Unfortunately, in many situations this is indeed the case.
This past August, 2014 my wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. It was the best August of our lives, as we danced until the sun came up and partied the entire month away. For the past five years we’ve been living non-monogamously, and they have been the best years of our marriage.
We’ve managed to stay together this long by saying Yes to each other over and over again. After I came out as bisexual to my wife five years ago, she said Yes to me; Yes to my sexuality; Yes to trying out a new kind of relationship together.
Most importantly, she said Yes to herself: Yes to wanting to explore sexually; Yes to this unexpected twist to her life; Yes to her love for me.
As William Faulkner says, “… you don’t love because: you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults.”
Saying Yes to your partner, to your self, and to the adventure of your life are key elements to having open, honest communication in your relationships. All possibilities have to be welcome at the table. No discussion can be off-limits.
This is especially true of sex, sexuality, and sexual desires, mainly because these are the items most often left off the menu for fear that a partner will say No. But sexual energy is relentless and cannot be stopped. Allowing it to flow in a safe, open, consensual environment is vital to the overall well-being of each individual, and therefore the relationship.
Both my wife and I agree that the freedom we’ve given each other to explore sexually has been a key component in staying together and in our current contentment with each other.
It all begins by saying Yes.