This first part is fairly woowoo - which is fairly unlike me - but so it goes.
We don't have formalized speech or other overt signs of our respective positions, but there is something between us, a current maybe or a back channel, that we both feel and communicate through. Probably most people who spend long enough together have the same kind of thing - i don't know. It's like eye contact: you can stare at someone's eyes forever, they may appear to be looking directly at you even, but you know without a doubt whether they have made eye contact with you or not.
I know he's there at the other side of that current, he know's when i am, and we each know the other knows. It's a different thing than any of our other interactions. When we get out of sync, it doesn't flow well, the communication through this channel is ineffective. Or maybe, when it doesn't flow well, we get out of sync. I know that sometimes I ignore that channel and pretend i can't hear what's coming through, or i doubt it and pout and deny it. Like avoiding or refusing to make eye contact when you can feel the other persons eyes burning a hole in your skull.
On the other, less 'out there,' but more mundane and more difficult side of things, is the explicit, plain old, tell the person how you feel kind of communication. It takes words. And active effort to listen without defending yourself in your head at the same time. And it takes (me) a lot of effort to tell him how i really feel sometimes. Sometimes i'm ashamed of my feelings, sometimes i'm angry or critical of him, sometimes it's a place we've been before and i just don't necessarily think more words are likely to change anything.
It is tempting, easy, to spin things as they come out of my mouth, to put myself in a better light, to avoid admitting i was wrong, or to avoid needing to tell him that i think he was wrong, or that i'm disappointed in something he did or didn't do, or that my needs aren't being met. The first two are only natural: no one likes to 'fess up to making mistakes, or being in the wrong. And i still am not so comfortable with some of my desires that i share them easily. But that's part of the bargain - I need to be open about those things.
The second part is harder. The 's' isn't supposed to critique or be angry, or put her feelings in a position of importance. Except that isn't sustainable long term - not for me. And he has demanded this side of my being open as well. Sometimes he is in the wrong - sometimes in things that matter enough that something has to be said. And there are areas in which we aren't in sync - we aren't perfectly matched in all our interests, desires, styles, kinks, whatever you want to call it, and it doesn't feel right at all for me to talk to him about those things. It feels like complaining, or asking him to change, or criticizing. But we didn't get this far by my burying my feelings or hoping he would read my mind.