“We need to talk” may be the 4 most dreaded words in every relationship.
No matter how happy you are in your relationship, there will come a time when you need to have a serious conversation. Sometimes, the subject matter may be so important that it will affect the direction of your relationship, so it’s easy to understand why so many couples struggle with having a “talk.”
To keep your relationship from falling victim to poor communication, try these pointers for talking through some common issues.
If you’re a tightwad and your partner loves to spend money, your financial habits will eventually take a strain on the relationship. When it comes time to talk through financial differences, here are a few things to weave into the conversation to ensure you end up on the same page.
- Be realistic. Make it clear from the start you want to work toward meeting somewhere in the middle, as long as it is makes sense for your financial situation.
- Point out your spending habits, but don’t label one as better than the other. You do need to acknowledge your differences when it comes to money in order to devise a long term approach to spending.
- Grant one another some autonomy on spending decisions, but also determine when you will need to consult one another before making a purchase. For example, agree on the dollar amount of a purchase price that requires buy in from the other person.
Image via Flickr by Ed Yourdon
Of course, your best solution may be keeping your finances separate. If this is the case, agree on who is responsible for which expenses and when you will split costs.
Tension with Family Members
Discord between your partner and family can put a tremendous amount of stress on the relationship, making family gatherings either uncomfortable or infrequent. Even worse — you always feel like you’re in the middle.
- Identify the root of the issue. Is it related to an incident, conflicting personalities, or both? If a certain incident between your partner and family is to blame, determine if an apology is in order and discuss how to approach a reconciliation.
- Let your partner vent about the issues with your family, but make it clear you won’t stand for bad mouthing or name calling. Keep away from an”us” against “them” mentality.
- Agree to create some space between your family and significant other. Sometimes the only solution is to keep them apart. Let your partner decide when they will join you for family events rather than making it an obligation.
Most importantly, let your partner know you are on their side. You won’t be able to force them to like your parents, and vice versa. The most you can do is communicate the good in your partner to your family, and vice versa. Hopefully, they’ll realize they have plenty of common ground: you.
Last but not least is the toughest conversation of all: letting your partner know you’re not satisfied in the bedroom. Getting stuck in a sex rut is common in most long term relationships, whether the issue stems from a lack of time, dwindling sex drive, or a physical disorder.
- Have the talk outside of the bedroom. This puts you in neutral territory — never bring up a sex-related issue in bed, and especially not after sex.
- Frame the conversation around your desires, not what your partner is doing wrong. Instead of making a statement like “You never want to have sex any more” say something like “I miss having sex with you.”
- Come prepared to offer solutions to the problem, rather than just listing your bedroom issues. Suggest next steps to take like seeing a sex therapist or looking into options for erectile dysfunction treatment.
Lastly, be patient. Turning around your sex life or overcoming a sexual dysfunction will take time (and probably more than one conversation).
Tips for Productive Discussions
Keep these things in mind next time you need to discuss something serious.
- Give fair warning. No one likes being caught off guard. Let your honey know you want to talk about the problem soon so they have time to consider their own feelings on the topic. Then, bring up it up again a few days later when they seem relaxed and focused enough to have the full conversation.
- Be direct. Dancing around your true feelings won’t provide long term solution to your relationship woes. Before you talk, decide exactly which points you want to get across and be firm, but gentle, with your approach.
- Listen to your partner. You may be so focused on being heard that your partner’s concerns fall on deaf ears. Hear out your significant other’s side and be understanding of where they’re coming from.
- Ask questions. This goes hand in hand with the above. Show that you’re just as concerned about their feelings as your own by asking how they feel.
Shying away from tough discussions can do your relationship more harm than good since unresolved issues will only build resentment. Being able to talk things out while remaining supportive and affectionate is the key to a lasting relationship.
Jane Miller is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything from tech to mommy stuff. She is featured in many blogs as a guest writer, and can write with authority on any niche or subject.