A while back, my business wasn't doing well. We were having trouble paying some of our personal bills because there wasn't enough money coming in.
At the end of a long week, I was driving home and called my wife. I told her to get dressed-up so I could take her out to dinner. She, predictably, complained that we couldn't afford it I—just as predictably—barked at her to do as I told her, and then hung up on her.
When I arrived home, I was ready to launch into a tirade, but she met me at the door—stark naked.
For a moment, I was caught off guard. I expected she might be in jeans and a T-shirt or dolled up and ready to go out to dinner.
I wasn't prepared for nudity.
In that moment of uncertainty, she kissed me, wrapping herself around me and pressing her body into me. A moment later, we looked into each other's eyes, saying nothing.
She turned and bent over the arm of the couch.
I gave her a back rub and we talked—about my Aunt Marta.
After a few minutes, we turned out the lights and went upstairs. I washed up and Elle put on a black satin nightgown—a gown similar to the one that Aunt Marta had given her as a wedding present.
After we made love, we went to sleep.
The apologies, the discussion of whether to go out to dinner or stay home and do something else, her offer to be punished, my decline, her suggestion of what to wear to bed and my acceptance—all of that was spoken in subtext.
Communication skills are extremely important. One of the most important of those skills is learning how to communicate without hurting and without forcing each other to admit fault.
Sometimes the best way of doing that is not to talk directly about what is bothering you. Shared experiences can provide a “language” that is more gentle and soothing than plain English.
Communication doesn't have to be explicit, direct or even verbal. It just has to happen.