Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 24

Sexuality

INTIMATE ISSUES WITH MARLOE

know where they are coming from.
Approach their point-of-view with
curiosity:
* "What do you think about...?"
* "How does it feel when...?"
* "What have you noticed about
when we...?"
Asking open-ended questions can
get them thinking and is more likely
to elicit insightful responses. If they
have some of the same concerns you
do, you can work together and not
feel so alone! They may also help you
see things differently.

R

espect, Reflect and Reinforce the
good. Part of asking questions
and actively listening includes being
respectful of the stuff your partner
shares with you. It takes bravery to be
open about something as intimate as
sex. Talking about it can make your
partner feel vulnerable and exposed,
just like you might be feeling. When
you are exchanging thoughts, validate their feelings and let them know
that what they say is important to you.
Reflect back what you heard from
them, and ask for clarification:
* "It sounds like ____, did I get
that right?"
* "I can understand how you
might see things that way."
* "I never considered that before,
but it makes sense."
* "That's an interesting point. Can
you tell me more about...?"
You can also encourage them to
reflect back what they've understood
from your words:
* "This was hard for me to say and
I just want to make sure I said it
clearly. Can you share with me
what you heard?"

24

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JUNE 2020

Sometimes when we are talking
about things that have to do with our
relationships, what we say or how we
say it may be interpreted by our partner as criticism or judgement, even if
we don't mean it that way. Along with
"I" statements, remembering to reinforce the good in your relationship
and reframing things in a positive
light can help prevent hurt feelings.
You might say things like:
* "I really miss ____! Let's find a
new way to enjoy..."
* "I love when you/we ____, but
I've noticed that ...."
* "Remember when we used to
_____? Let's try ...."

D

etails, details, details! How
many frank conversations
about sex have you had with a partner? I'm talking, like, an exchange of
full sentences and the use of proper
terminology.
Perhaps up until this point, you've
relied mostly on non-verbal cues
and the occasional "ooh" or "aah"
to get your point across (probably
with varying levels of success, I'd
bet). When it comes to sexual needs,
wants, and worries, we often depend
on very ineffective ways of communicating. That is, if we even communicate at all! Many of us rely on false
assumptions, like the belief that our
partner should not only just know
what's wrong, but also how to fix it!
Realistically, it's not fair to blame
our partners for failing to interpret
our thoughts; such impossible expectations only result in frustration.
Mind-reading is not a thing! Instead,
it's all about sharing the details.
Do you need some snuggle time

without the expectation of more?
Not ready for sharing a certain part
of your body yet? Has there been a
change in the type/amount/duration
of sexual touch that works for you?
Do you want to try a personal lubricant? Would it be helpful to hear all
the things they love about you? Say
so! Being specific about how you feel
and what you need eliminates the
guessing game and lets you both focus on an action plan for the problem.
If you have ideas about what could be
done to help, share them. This can
alleviate your partner's fears about
doing or saying the wrong thing.
Don't be afraid to state what you
might feel is obvious. Chances are
that what seems obvious to you may
not be quite so clear to your partner.
They will appreciate the specifics!
* "I would really like it if...."
* "I've noticed that I need more/
less...."
* "Sometimes it just feels good if
you...."
* "I'm not up for ___ tonight, but
do you think we could ___?"
BE H.E.A.R.D., AND THEN...
Sometimes, a conversation is all that's
needed to clear up a concern or get a
question answered. But often, speaking up is just the first step to figuring
things out. If you find that you need
some more help to resolve a problem,
there are lots of resources available you
can tap into. Your cancer center may
have counselors who can help you and
your partner communicate effectively
about difficult stuff. You can also look
up counselors or therapists in your
area that are certified in sexual issues
on the American Association of Sexu-


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Elephants And Tea - June 2020

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Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 1
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