often don't think about growing beyond that point, yet it may be vital in a relationship. In your career life, you have to keep up with modern technology to stay afloat, much less get ahead.
Our relationships should be just as important. Don't be afraid to learn how the other person communicates. How did your partner's family relate to each other, and can you glean something from their communication patters that you can add to your own "communications repertoire"? We often think we have communicated simply by conveying our message, or by falsely presuming the other person knows what we want and how to give it to us. We may not stop to measure our communication effectiveness when a relationship reaches a stalemate.
Dave, a broadcaster by profession, was in his 30s when he got married for the first time. He told his bride, "Remember, we must communicate about everything; that will make our marriage successful." A well-meaning friend of Dave's, who had been married 15 years, gave Dave this important advice before he married. Unfortunately, Dave only knew how to give orders; that's all he had learned about "communication" in the household in which he grew up. Therefore, he unwittingly bossed and bullied his wife. Dave would even praise his wife to friends, saying, "She is so quiet; she never nags me."
One day Dave's wife Kyra, having bottled up rage at not "being heard" for years, announced to Dave she was leaving. Needless to say, not much of their relationship was left by this time. Kyra wouldn't even consider therapy; afraid that Dave would dominate the therapy sessions as well. She left him, saying, "I'm tired of listening to you talk. You own the marriage and I'm just allowed to visit in it." Dave was sent emotionally reeling, stupefied, unable to fathom what had happened. See how easy it is for lack-of-communication to unravel a relationship? Dave may have been talking, but he wasn't communicating. No relationship has to reach this chronic "point of no return."
If only Dave and his wife had learned how to communicate at the beginning of their marriage, instead of giving the subject lip-service. Perhaps they were both afraid of rejection, but if only they could have gotten past that fear, they could have at least grown together for a while.
Real communication actually proceeds level-by-level; it's not an all-or-nothing one-time occurrence. Let's look at the three major stages of communication:
Level One, Positive Communication:
This "dating game" stage of a relationship, the first few months, should keep its focus on positive communication. Find out about each other. Use compliments to draw each other out. Focus on your commonalities and how they can enhance your relationship. Talking is very important during this stage, but listening is just as vital. Rewarding each other with positive feedback, compliments, and reassurances can set the stage for closer contact. That is why it is complimentary to hold off a while before having sex. Get to know what each other likes first and savor the verbal foreplay.
Level Two, Intimate Communication:
Here is the opportunity to explore the passionate power of words. Before becoming intimate, before having sex with your partner for the first time, find out what each other likes in bed. This is a level where both of you will feel sensitive. If you are about to take the plunge, talk about your needs more openly. Certainly if you were preparing a steak for your partner, you would select a good piece of meat and find out how your partner likes it cooked.
It can be difficult to talk about sex because we aren't given courses in school on how to do it. And most likely, our parents didn't give us much help in this area either. We go into relationships expecting our partners to know our needs by osmosis, and that's rather presumptuous, isn't it? How can we dare expect someone else to know where to touch us if we don't find a positive way to tell them? In love-making, we are totally on our own; maybe that's why it can feel so difficult to express what you want and find out your partner's needs. But we may fear rejection or be afraid we can't measure up. No ironclad rules exist to fall back upon; we just have to "wing it." And maybe that's a good thing if it opens us up to talk more freely. If you were lost in a foreign city, you would certainly seek out someone you could talk to and ask directions. You would be just as vulnerable in that situation too.
Asking for directions in love- making is just part of getting where you want to go. We aren't just dealing with erotic needs at this level, but erotic nurturing needs. If it feels scary to ask for erotic nurturing, first tell each other how much you respect each other and want to please each other. Ask what each other likes in the way of sex. Go slowly; the more time you take, the more excitement you build up and the more barriers you break down. Tantalize your partner with the possibility you can fulfill each other's wildest dreams and fantasies.
Verbal foreplay is extremely important at this stage. You might say things like, "You look so inviting lying there like that" or "I love the admiration I see in your eyes right now; it makes me want to be so closely entwined with you." Tell each other the little things that feel good or entice, such as "I love your bald head; it feels so slick and that's such a turn-on to me," or "It feels wild when you lightly finger-massage my back." Give each other positive feedback during and after love-making. Feel free to ask that your needs be met; express what you need by saying things like, "I need to be held close after making love," or "I need you to stay overnight." And if your partner is reluctant to open up, ask, ask, ask in a gentle and loving way. Ask what his deepest desires are and how you can meet them. And if that first love-making session isn't everything you want, tell each other in a positive way what turns you on and what doesn't.
Once two people have connected in an intimate way, the relationship changes course. We all feel more vulnerable after sex has entered into the picture. The union either grows stronger at this point, or interest in each other wanes. If you can talk and be more open with each other, the sexual intimacy goes to a deeper level and gets better and better. But if you emotionally distance each other, the relationship can end. For instance, if a man ceases to call a woman after they have had sex, she may feel used and abused. It's better to tell her up front how you feel rather than leaving her thinking the worst of you. And fellows, if your lady backs away after that first sexual experience, try gently drawing her out a little more. Maybe the emotional intimacy is very strong and she may need reassurance. The point is, you can bring each other more closely together with intimate language.
Level Three: Physical, Mental and Spiritual Communication.
This is the deepest form of communication. At this level of your relationship, you are becoming attuned to each other's physical needs; you have that blissful mind-to-mind connection and you feel that soul-mate resonance. But couples often revert to Level One at this point, because they've made the conquest or they're married by this point and don't feel a need to keep trying. It is of extreme value at this level to keep investing in the relationship however. It is imperative to set aside one hour of communication time each day, to keep current on each other's needs and to know each other more deeply.
Don't take the relationship for granted just because you have secured each other. Continue to do spontaneous little things for the one you love, and find out if he or she likes new adventures, new interests. One couple I know were together for five years before they discovered they both liked roller-skating. This added a new zest to their relationship, even to the point of making love in a motel near the roller rink and pretending they were teenagers being "naughty." You never know what surprises that one hour per day can bring you. And it can really secure your everlasting love to you, more so than presuming everything is okay. Your connection with each other will keep growing on all levels.
Moving beyond communication. The way to move beyond communication is through more communication. Then we no longer fear talking to each other. It becomes as natural as breathing. If we have feared rejection, intimacy, inadequacy, and been able to talk about these very common problems and deal with them, then more and better communication can't hurt. It can only improve any situation. Even if your partner tells you a little more than you wanted to know, that provides you with yet another topic for discussion. Then you can clear the air and move on. To move beyond communication is to have mastered the nuances, at least to a point. You know what basic facial expressions and body language mean, you acknowledge them, and above all you can talk about them. Don't always try to second-guess each other's body-language cues; ask your partner if his or her nod means yes or no. And, if you or your partner "clams up," you may learn to give each other a wide berth until the time is right to talk. And if one of you needs to talk, one of you may need to listen. Communication is ongoing foreplay that keeps you in everlasting love.
For more information on communication for couples, get my Passion Power program guaranteed to improve intimate communication, enhance intimacy, and expand your sexual horizon.