“Honey, we need to talk.” Oof. The power of those 5 little words; words that create significant feelings of discomfort and dread. And yet, we can’t avoid these talks- healthy relationships rely on having those difficult conversations with those we love, partners included.
While we can’t avoid them completely, we can be intentional about how we approach such talks with our partners. If you’re looking for ways to reduce the discomfort that comes with difficult conversations with your partner, read on!
How to Have Difficult Conversations with Your Partner – 5 Tips
1. Set a time for the conversation
Let your partner know that you need to talk and try to find a time that works for both of you. Having a difficult conversation often requires that we be in a certain headspace, and setting up a time can help both partners prepare mentally. Setting an agreed time to talk also prevents one partner from feeling as though the conversation was just sprung on them, which can create unnecessary discomfort.
2. Create a safe space for conversation
Everyone will have a different version of what a safe space looks like, so go with what you know about you and your partner. Should certain topics be off-limites during this discussion? Do you and your partner prefer to take breaks from the conversation as needed, or do you prefer to get the difficult talk out of the way in one go? Do you prefer to discuss things quietly or are you both okay if voices are raised a little? Think about what makes you and your partner feel safe and open with each other and work to create that safe space for conversations.
3. Be sure to eat and sleep well before
This one can be tricky, but is oh-so-important. Uncomfortable feelings can come to the surface in the time leading up to a difficult conversation, making it difficult for some people to eat or sleep well beforehand. Tough as it may be, showing up to a difficult conversation with our most basic needs met can help us remain calm and thoughtful and give us the stamina needed to work through the uncomfortable discussion.
4. Follow-up with a self-care plan as needed.
Just as preparing for a difficult conversation with our partner is important, so, too, is taking care of ourselves afterward. Think about what makes you feel better after an uncomfortable situation- maybe it’s a talk with a good friend, a walk, a visit to a nature park, a nap, some solitude, or perhaps it’s something else entirely. Having a self-care plan lined up beforehand can help you jump into self-care mode, even if you’re not feeling well after the talk.
5. Reduce the pressure by having the talk in a neutral space.
For some of us, the thought of sitting down across from our partner for a serious and uncomfortable discussion can make us shy away from having those difficult talks. If this is you or your partner, consider changing the environment or having the talk while engaged in an activity together. You might prefer to take a long drive while talking (safety first – never drive when you’re very upset), or perhaps a hiking trip, or even just moving the conversation outside where there is fresh air and sunlight. Think about what works for you and your partner and don’t be afraid to switch up your environment for something more neutral.
While there’s no perfect formula for how to have difficult conversations with your partner, with a little planning and intention, you can create a space where you both feel safer, more open, more heard, and less threatened. You may need to try a few different things to find what works for you both, but a little effort can go a long way when it comes to those serious talks.
As always, if you would like some help navigating the tougher issues or improving communication in your relationship, a love coach may be able to help. Please reach out – you don’t have to do this alone.