Many women avoid talking about LBL with their intimate partners like the plague. And then there are women like my friend Chris, who find it easy to have that conversation (hear the touching way her husband responded on my Woman-to-Woman podcast). Regardless of the topic, sharing puts you in a vulnerable position. You might think, “If I don’t tell him about that one wiry hair I keep plucking from my chin, why on Earth would I tell him about my little leaks?” Keeping LBL a secret can be isolating, stressful, and can leave your partner feeling baffled by your moods and behavior. Whether you are suddenly overcome with sadness or unexpectedly cancel plans to go out for fear of an unexpected leak — your partner could be much more supportive and understanding if he knew about your LBL.
For professional advice, I sought out my friend Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD a psychologist, coach, and author of the bestselling book, “A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness.” She offered these three steps to help you have a productive conversation.
Step 1: Prepare yourself. Tone down your nerves by noticing what you’re saying to yourself. Rate your stress-level on a scale from one to ten. Then, wait until you’re at a six or lower before having the LBL conversation with your partner (we don’t always think rationally when our stress level is at a seven or above). When you tell your significant other about your LBL, he may be surprised and respond with something like, “You have WHAT?” When you’re under high stress, you might interpret this reaction differently than if your stress-level is at a two. Under high stress you might think, “Oh my God, he never wants to have sex with me again!” When stress is low, you’d probably see the same comment as confirmation that he’s listening to you. For some help on managing your mood, read What You Say to Yourself (About LBL) Matters.
Step 2: Prepare the environment. Set aside time when you’re both available to have a conversation. If you’re free from distractions or interruptions, you’ll be more relaxed (which means a lower stress level!). Say to your partner, “Hey, there’s something I want to talk with you about. When would you have about 20 minutes to talk?” If your partner is pressed for time during the conversation, you may interpret that in a negative way. Set the space so you are not rushed and you both have plenty of time to have a conversation.
Step 3: Start the conversation. Tell your partner about your light bladder leakage and how it’s affecting your body. Be sure to let your partner know how LBL affects your emotions, too. An unexpected leak after a big laugh or sneeze can leave you feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed. It’s okay to say, “Sometimes I don’t feel sexy,” or “I get stressed about it.” Spell it out, rather than assume your partner understands. No matter how your partner responds, assume it’s coming from a place of love. If your partner says, “Oh honey, you’re always sexy to me.” You might tell yourself, “Ugh! He’s just trying to get sex.” Instead, interpret his words as genuine. Your partner wants to be helpful, but doesn’t always know how. Tell him what you need to hear and what you want him to do. When people don’t know what to say, they tend to either say the wrong thing or they don’t say anything at all. Tell him, for example, “Sometimes I get anxious when we’re about to go out, and I want to vent. Please don’t try to fix me. I just want you to listen. It will help me to calm down and cope better.” Remember, your partner cannot read your mind. By being straightforward and explaining what you want or need from him, you’re more likely to get it.
Did Dr. Lombardo’s tips inspire you to start a conversation with your significant other? Or, are you still feeling resistance? Perhaps it would help to invite your partner to read this post before you talk. It may lay the groundwork for a loving and productive conversation … and confidence in dealing with LBL.
-- Edited by MarilynSuttle at Dec 16, 2013 3:25 PM PST -- Edited by MarilynSuttle at Dec 17, 2013 5:17 PM PST