10 Ways to Have Difficult Conversations with Your Partner
No one ever wants to have these difficult conversations. It’s just an area where we feel most vulnerable. We are afraid, to be honest, and share how we feel because the other person might reject us or be upset and maybe even hate us. That’s at least what we fear. Plus, these reactions then make us second guess our reason to have the conversations in the first place.
We don’t trust ourselves to have fully felt what we did. Either way, difficult conversations can be most difficult with one’s partner. It’s the person one has committed to and loved and wants them to feel safe and loved in return. But, what’s so great about true love and deep, intimate relationships is that it should be a space where one can be open and free and truthful. And conflict is just a part of relationships.
Here are ten simple ways to approach difficult conversations with one’s partner. Keep these in mind when taking the step to have that conversation.
1. Never Avoid The Situation
Realize that avoiding the situation isn’t a good plan. Avoiding the difficulty does not make it go away! Remember that! It’s OK to take your time to figure out one’s feelings and how they will approach the situation properly with their partner, but DO NOT just sweep it under the rug! Realize that conflict is inevitable in every relationship, and hiding from it will only make it worse. That’s the thing with difficult problems. The more you ignore them, the bigger they grow!
2. Consider Your Partner’s Feelings
Think of the other person’s feelings. It helps to put oneself in another’s position to imagine and picture how they might feel. That will assist the person initiating the conversation to construct it in such a way that will be easiest for the other person to handle. Everyone experiences an awkward conversation at some point in their lives. Therefore, consider that when planning to have such a conversation with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse.
3. Use Positive Statements
Try not to use generalizations. For example, don’t use the words “always” or “never”. Use statements that don’t assume what the other person is feeling. For example, state, “I feel” or “I think”. That way the other person may not feel as threatened or that their partner is just assuming their feelings or intentions behind their actions.
4. Don’t Expect Too Much
Even if one has planned and done their best to be as kind and understanding as possible, things may still not go as they’ve expected. The other person could either get upset, or they could take it quite well. But, it’s important not to expect too much from the situation or else there could be a lot of disappointment and anger. Also, don’t expect to resolve everything in this one session. It may take a few times of discussion or even a counselor to help the couple sort through all of the issues. It’s important to have difficult conversations when each person is calm and unemotional, so if one or both people need a break, take it!
5. Give The Other Person a Chance to Speak
Even if there is one partner who is initiating the conversation, it’s essential that the other partner gets a chance to either react, respond, or share their thoughts, opinions, and views on the situation. That might bring in a new perspective and could end up solving the problem even faster than expected! Because it’s a partnership, each person should have their say and their time to share their feelings and be honest.
6. Never Interrupt
Not only is it bad manners, but may also put the other person on the defensive. As a result, it could make emotions run higher. Also, don’t be thinking about the next thing to say before the other person has finished speaking. Really and truly focus on their response. That’s the only way the problem can end and people can move forward in their relationship.
7. Be in control
Nothing good can be achieved when one or both partners let their emotions get out of control. When emotions are high, people can’t think or speak clearly, and they may be harsher than they intended. Also, one or both people may feel threatened and attacked which brings in a horrible and negative vibe to the situation.
8. Show Love, Care, and Compassion
As was mentioned above, it’s necessary to take the time and energy to construct a conversation that will not make the other person feel awful or embarrassed. Even if the hard conversation is a breakup, show love, care, and compassion to the other person to soften the blow. Don’t sugarcoat things or treat the other person like a child, but be kind. Understand the difficulty and pain that may result.
10. Seek For Clarifications
Conflict is always going to be a part of life, especially in close relationships like marriage. There are so many situations in which difficult conversations could arise. People could have different opinions and views on sex, marriage, children, money, health, etc. Having these different opinions are ok, but if one person is feeling unfulfilled or unloved because of these issues, then that’s when a difficult conversation needs to take place.
Sadly, our society, especially in Western culture, looks down on vulnerability as a weakness. We shouldn’t show our “weaker” side or one person will gain all the power and take advantage of the other. Or, we’ll look bad and useless and seem unlovable. Also, it can be difficult, in western culture, to be totally honest, because then we’ll have to deal with conflict and have a confrontation with someone, which is definitely undesirable. But, people often find that once they open up that pathway of communication and honesty, they can truly connect with the other person, the resentment just fades away, and they can go on to have truly healthy and fulfilling relationships.
So, if the time comes to have a difficult conversation with a spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend, sit and think about it. How can it be approached delicately? What needs to be said? What not needs to be said? How will the words be phrased? What are the planned results? Also, follow the above tips to approach such a conversation in the easiest and most effective way which will hopefully spare the feelings of both people. So, whether it’s about sex, work, politics, jobs, health, money, or family, then use these ways to help the best result come from the conversation.