It’s the first thing you see whenever someone asks for advice online- “Communicate! Talk it out! Get your feelings out there!” Communication (or rather lack of it) is one big cause of relationships faltering. But that’s often as far as the advice goes. It’s usually not as simple as blurting out all that stuff festering inside you.
For me, the first step is to not communicate for a while. I pull back and chew on my thoughts and feelings for a bit. How long that is can vary. I find that if I just let loose my initial gut feelings, they’re often more intense than they would be once they’re settled in. But I make it clear that I’m delaying the conversation rather than avoiding it altogether. Sometimes if I’m hurt or bothered in some way, I need time to think about things before I can have a rational conversation. I need to put some emotional distance (and time) between myself and whatever the issue is.
One big reason for this is tact. If two people talk to each other and just immediately vomit up all the raw emotion they’re feeling, it’s easy to severely damage the relationship. They say things they later regret. They may mean those things in the moment, but once they purge those feelings and air them out, the feelings they still have inside are often different and usually less intense. I find it best for me to take all that raw emotion and let it simmer for hours or days before talking about it. It gives those emotions time to evolve. It helps provide a clearer perspective. We often don’t feel the same way about a given subject initially as we do later on down the line. I want to make sure my feelings have settled some, which makes it more likely that I only say things I really mean.
The method of communication matters more than most people think. Some are best with face-to-face conversation. Some prefer a phone call. Others work best via email. Still others may do better with text or instant messaging. I can operate with any of these methods, though email works well for me; it gives me time to think things through before they reach the other person, to make sure I really mean what I say, to make sure I’m not missing anything, and to ensure my phrasing is tactful.
Another issue some couples run into is that the d/s can hinder communication. For some this isn’t an issue. I’ve found that it can be problematic for me on occasion. If I approach a problem from a submissive mindset, I may feel that I’m asking too much, be willing to cede more ground and accept a lopsided compromise, or just not bring up the problem at all. This has been a stumbling block for me at times.
The other hurdle I run into is that I can be a little gun-shy due to previous experiences. If whoever I’m talking with snaps at me for attempting to communicate, or if I do my part in communicating but it seems to fall on deaf ears, I’ll be less likely to communicate as effectively in the future. As much as I push communication on others, it’s not something I’m perfect at myself. But I work damn hard at it in trying to improve.