This article picks up from Part 1, where I talk about Will Smith’s revelations about his relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith and what they show us about non-conventional relationships. Once we understand that we are individuals, we can open a space for communicating our needs while listening for our partner’s needs as well.
Communication Is Vital
“There were significant endless discussions about, what is relational perfection? What is the perfect way to interact as a couple? And for the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection.” –Will Smith interview GQ
Communicating about our relationship is hard. Time does not make this conversation easier. As we grow more comfortable with our partners, we fall into patterns that we come to accept as normal. Talking about our relationship in this context of manufactured normalcy can seem frightening or even threatening to partners. This is why I love the above quote from Will Smith. He demonstrates three things I find so important in communication.
- Communication is constant
When we talk about our relationship, it is not a one-and-done thing. We don’t have a single conversation or talk on one occasion. It is a conversation begun and continued over time as partners think about each other’s answers, needs, and desires. Even when we find solutions, we still revisit the conversation to make sure we’re meeting each other’s needs.
- Ask direct and open questions
Asking the right questions is important. Often, that is a matter of trial and error. We ask a question and either gain clarification or don’t. However, there are a few things that can help us learn those right questions faster. First, asking direct questions about simple, individual things helps you and your partner focus on a conversation. Second, ask open-ended questions that lead to conversation instead of ending with a single answer. Questions should be simple and direct. The answers should be broad and conversational.
- Show appreciation and consider each other’s answers and ideas as we communicate
The appreciation that I mean is not a thank you or gratitude, though that has its place in communication. Instead, I mean active appreciation, where we take what our partner says into consideration as we move the conversation forward.
As you begin your conversation about open monogamy, keep these three ideas in mind. Your conversation will be ongoing as you each explore ideas and learn about each other, yourselves, and your needs. You want to ask direct questions about your relationship, what you each want, and what you each need. You want to listen and build on your past conversations as you continue to communicate.
To check out my new book “Open Monogamy: Co-Creating Your Ideal Relationship Agreement” go to Sounds True Publishing, Amazon, Barnes, and Noble or anywhere books are sold.