Open Communication Means Being Able to Hear Without Judgment

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.

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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.


6 thoughts on “Open Communication Means Being Able to Hear Without Judgment

  1. Hi

    I came across your site today. It was was as if the answers was coming from long awaited questions. My wife and I have a 13 year “happy ” marriage. I have caught her twice having a sexual encounter with her best friend. After each time they told me it was just innocent experiment but I don’t think it’s only those two times it happened.
    I think it’s happening often. Problem is I can’t get her to admit she is probably Bisexual. How do I get her to admit and let her know I’m okay with it as long as I don’t get lied to and are aware or part of it?

    1. Dear Hannes,

      Thank you for reaching out to me with this email.

      You are concerned that your wife is bisexual, in denial about this, and having an affair of sorts with her friend, to which she is unwilling to admit anything untoward is going on.

      Now your wife may very well be in denial, wanting to downplay her feelings for her friend, or the truths about her sexuality or what has been going on, but that does not mean you must be in denial as well.

      No one likes to be played the fool, and it sounds as if you are feeling some of this: you catch them and they giggle and deny it all.

      Hannes you every right to require transparency and authenticity from your wife. You can explain to her (as I’m sure you’ve already done) that you are willing to work with her and her sexuality in many different ways, but there is one way which is unworkable: and that is her lying to you.

      You need to make it clear that until and unless she opens up to you and reveals her authentic self, there is no way this relationship can survive. If you are to have a successful “consensually” non-monogamous relationship, it must be consensual. This means both parties (you and her) know what is going on and are in agreement with it. No one does anything sexual with anyone else until you both consent to it.

      You are the one who has to drive this conversation Hannes. Sit her down and ask her questions like, has she ever had prior w2w sexual experiences? What has she done with her friend? What would she like to do? How does she feel about her sexuality? Is she confused? What turns her on? Is she still interested in sex with you? Keep digging and asking questions until you are satisfied with the veracity of her responses. You may need to dig for weeks until you get to the bottom of it, if she is willing to open up

      In my experience, unless the person is willing to open up and face their shame, guilt, and fears around their sexuality, the lying and secretive behaviour will not stop, because the person is lying to herself mostly; pretending this is a little temporary transgression which does not count, even though these may add up to many little transgressions which do not count.

      If she is unwilling to open up and unwilling to stop the secret trysts, then you need to be clear about what it is you will do under such circumstances.

      This is for you to decide.

      I would suggest you do not fall into her pattern of letting it go, letting it go, letting it go. No more letting it go. Deal with this one way or another, but no more letting it go. If she is unwilling to open up, then you may need to leave her, or accept the fact that she carries on with women behind your back.

      I wish you all the best in this. I am available for counselling should you feel the need.

      Kind Regards,


  2. Hi,

    I discovered your site today, and I just wanted to say that I find your outlook on relationships, and what you write about your own, to be refreshing.
    I could be wrong, but what you portray your new relationship with your wife to be, is exactly what I want and hope to strive for. Emotional monogamy, but sexual freedom that you engage in together, that’s why I am a huge fan of the swinging lifestyle.
    Again, I could have misinterpreted your point of view. Regardless, I enjoy it.
    Have a nice day.

    1. Hi Phedre,

      Thank you for leaving this comment on my blog.

      I like the way you put it: emotional monogamy, but sexual freedom!

      It really does strike a nice balance.

      Wishing you the best of all eventualities for your own relationship(s)!


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