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Fluff up your communication and intimacy with this critical end-of-day practice.

In a painfully unscientific study on how my previous significant others have behaved before bed, let’s just say the setting has been far from communication-friendly: I’ve survived instant body twitching, waiting for hour-long primping, involuntary flatulence, immediate freight-train snoring or the pungent whiff of heavy intoxication.

My current squeeze and I, though, have made a promise to toast the mystery-laden universe of sleepyland with pillow talk – known as quiet talking before bed, after sex, or both – a practice, say experts, that can bring lovebirds together and make a difference in how a day’s debriefing shapes your shut-eye.

Among those experts is Dr. Scott Conkright, who has been providing psychotherapy services for more than 15 years and has served as president of Atlanta Group Psychotherapy Society. He says couples that have trouble dedicating time to communication at any time, let alone just before bed, should focus their communication on each other.

“How do you find time for each other that’s dedicated to the task of intimacy? Pillow talk is a great way to do that.” He says. “It’s about saying to each other, ‘The time now is not about watching TV; not about whether we should get the roof redone; or any of those sorts of things. I want to know what’s going on with you, what you’re feeling, what your week’s been like.’ You want to know let each other know what you’ve been thinking about.”

Conkright says men in particular – of all persuasions, gay or straight – tend to shy away from naming their feelings.

That very well may be changing, though, particularly if you look at where we’ve come in the past few generations. If we are in a shift in the way we discuss and dissect feelings and relationships (with the launch of same-sex wedding magazine EquallyWed evidence of evolving attitudes) just look at the way “Pillow Talk,” the feature film starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day, was promoted as “the most sparkling sexcapade that ever winked at convention,” and, “it’s what goes on when the lights go off.”

By today’s standards – where Lindsay falls out of limos and Britney flashes her hoo-hoo to the tabloids – it looks and sounds positively puritanical. The film was made in an era when a frank, literal interpretation of the concept of “Pillow Talk,” wasn’t fully viable; most of it takes place with both lead characters talking coyly, spinning the twisted cords of rotary-dial telephones. The movie also has become an odd precursor to Hudson’s revelation that he is gay, complete with him pretending to be gay while playing a skirt-chasing straight man while secretly leading a gay personal life.

You'll need a scorecard for that one. If our society has moved leaps and bounds beyond “winking at convention” – which seems so “Little House on the Prairie” – our interpersonal customs, including pillow talk, should catch up. Conkright says all couples of all stripes should make best efforts to exclude distractions.

“Turn the damn Blackberry and TV off,” he says. “From say 8:00 to 10:00 p.m., there needs to be no electronic gear on – no iPhones or getting online.”

That’s certainly a tall order in my household, but one to which we can all aspire. A casual kiss, a TV shut-off, a pull of the shades, a sleeping-position adjustment, and… a debriefing from the day. Try out some of these practices and discover the softer side of communication.

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Comment by Will Pollock on August 9, 2010 at 7:58am
thanks to all for the comments! see my latest column for August, "Only When We Laugh," here:

Comment by Lillian Gaffney on July 13, 2010 at 8:28am
...thanks Will for your reminder. I'm fortunate, to have a fabulous relationship with my hubby. At this stage of our lives, we have learned why even wait til pillow talk. You time like the present.
Comment by stephen dijoseph on July 13, 2010 at 1:15am
alot of experience tells me that when these elements were lacking, I was unhappy. When present?
MUCH better off....
Comment by Carissa Galow on July 12, 2010 at 10:19pm
I will keep this in mind when I enter into a relationship. Thanks for sharing!
Comment by wiffledust on July 12, 2010 at 6:20pm
this is a total aside, but speaking of little house on the you notice that in those shows (and in the waltons), pillow talk is a major part of the show? all the main decisions, all the demonstrations of the relationships of the parental lovers takes place there? one of the good things about those "wholesome" shows was not the sappy part but the stuff like this. that they show that real couples talk and giggle and share and connect during all that pillow talk. and now the art is reflecting the reality where you see more shows with the couples just turning away from each other with hardly a word. crazy stupid.
Comment by wiffledust on July 12, 2010 at 4:08pm
thanks for sharing your wonderful insights about emotional intelligence, will. it's so crucial to getting to our creative selves. without having access to our emotional side, we can't create. and so many people are stuck. and LORD KNOWS tons of relationships are stuck. a little pillow talk goes a LONGGG way!

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