I mentioned in School’s Out for the Summer that Saturday mornings are one of the scheduled times that HisLordship and I devote to honest, open discussion. It occurred to me then that I had never really written anything about how we build this sort of communication in to our dynamic. It is so important and is also one of the things that really changed how we worked together and although I wrote about the importance of it in my early post, Communication , I didn’t give much specific detail on how we make it work for us.
I did explain that we have found that the communication is the glue that holds the rest together. When we stop communicating well, or openly, the other elements seem to be affected. In addition, if something challenges one of the other foundations, it is only through truly open communication that we can resolve it. But it wouldn’t work well if we waited until there was a problem to solve, although I would be lying if I said that had never happened. What we have tried to do is to have certain times of the week that we talk in a focussed way. Previous to this, I had talked at times when Sir was not listening and he had not listened at times when I had something to say. This led to a feeling that I was nagging him, and a feeling for him that he was being hounded or criticised. Not conducive to harmony or positive self esteem. One of the first things I felt when we began a more structured way of talking was relief. And then I felt hugely validated. I had his undivided attention and that gave me an enormous lift.
Discussing things fully while he listened and then took responsibility for making the decisions was massive progress for us. He was suddenly an essential and integral part of what we were doing, and my contribution to the planning and thought surrounding it was valued. This just took so much of the stress away that the second guessing can bring, not to mention the feeling of unwanted responsibility and guilt or blame if things didn’t work out. We were a couple, we were together, and this was about the both of us. But I have become sidetracked again in the result, rather than in the process. As I pointed out previously, as a couple we had always talked a lot and there were no topics really off limits so we could just have said that we were fine in that area but this was about the quality focussed discussion that would keep us travelling along the same road together, not the type where you are simply informing each other where you have been, or where you want to go.
So as a minimum we will talk like this one of the mornings at the weekend (usually a Saturday) and also once during the week – usually on a Wednesday before our weekly cane session. During this time we talk about things like what is working well, what isn’t working so well, things that we would like to do and sometimes we also talk about where we want to see our relationship go. It is sort of a dealing with issues session and also a chance to reflect back on where we have come from and to look forward to where we want to go. Clearly we don’t do all of this all every time we talk but we will combine these elements, depending on what is most relevant and significant at the time.
Although I will always try to remain respectful in the way that I speak to HisLordship during this discussion, it will be a time that I will speak much more freely and openly than I might other times. This has worked well as, rather than blurting things out as they come to mind, it will be a calmer more considered discussion than one that we might have had before so I will have thought about what I want to say and how I want to say it before we begin. He does the same and will often have some things written down that he wishes to address. Although we can be interrupted (such is life), there is a clear beginning, middle and end and Sir will take the lead and sum up the main points, especially those for action. This has led to us working much better together as we are both much clearer about the outcomes, decisions and responsibilities than we used to be.
Although we will use these structured times to reflect, evaluate and plan, either of us can and will ask for this type of discussion as and when the need arises. As with anything, it will not fit neatly into an exact package all the time as life is not always predictable, nor would we want it to be. Although I think that good, open communication is essential to the success of any relationship, how you achieve that will be a personal thing so I am not suggesting our way should be your way, I am merely offering food for thought and an insight into how we have made it work for us. As I said before, we have found that communicating in a much more structured and open way has helped to keep us on track, especially at the early stage, and it has been vital to us in building the trust that allows us to enjoy the intimacy and intensity that we want to have.