I tend to harp on about how open and honest communication is vital to a healthy relationship. This is not only because my partner has taught me the value of communication to a loving marriage, but also because it truly is absolutely essential and now there are scientific studies to prove it.
Researchers have found that people who recently acquired HIV in Uganda are more likely to report poor communication and mistrust in their relationship. In this study, they interviewed two groups of people; 30 men and women between the ages of 15-24 who had acquired HIV in the last year and 30 men and women who were negative.
Comparing the HIV negative to the HIV positive, the persons who were negative were more likely to have had lengthy detailed discussions with their partner about sexual health, HIV status and testing, their partner’s testing history, and to have received couples-based HIV testing. Men with HIV had not discussed sexual health with their partners and women living with HIV reported their partners refused to get tested for HIV.
The people who were HIV negative had more trust in their partners while those with HIV reported distrust and not being sure what their partner’s movements were. Distrust was not a consequence of a positive diagnosis because people who were not aware of their positive status reported distrust.
Another study conducted in Malawi looking at spousal communication about the risk of contracting HIV/Aids in rural Malawi found that factors that influence communication are the size of the woman’s social network, access to information, whether the couple had talked about family planning and the extent of their worry of contracting the disease.
A common strategy to discuss HIV/Aids was in reference to something or someone outside of their relationship or in terms of concerns of children’s welfare if both parents were to die. At times, couples had resorted to interventions by family and friends to discuss infidelity and HIV/Aids. Wives were cautious to directly accuse their husbands of infidelity but sought for them to understand the implications if both parents were to die.
If you would like to improve communication in your sexual relationship consider this question: What things don’t you talk about and what stops you from talking about them?
A few tips: choose a good time, keep the right tone, focus on how you feel – use I statements, don’t mind-read (don’t try and guess how the other person is feeling), stick to the main point, tell what you have observed, don’t expect to resolve difficult topics in one conversation. Agree to continue talking.