Ugh – that dreaded “we have to talk” conversation. Inevitably, in all relationships, there are issues that need to be discussed. Disagreements and conflict are a very normal part of even the healthiest of relationships. You are two separate people with two separate pasts that you each bring to the relationship. And that separateness means that you won’t agree on everything.
Even though we know it’s inevitable, it doesn’t mean that having a hard conversation in a relationship is easy. It is important when we’re having difficult conversations to make sure that we are clear headed and emotionally grounded. We must go into difficult conversations knowing that it’s going to be a back-and-forth and be open to whatever comes up.
Here are three tips for having hard conversations in a relationship:
- Make sure it’s a good time to talk. It’s important to make sure that you and your partner have the time, space, and mental capacity to handle your hard conversation. Both parties should be able to give the conversation their full attention, with no distractions. This might mean that you have to schedule a time to have this conversation with your partner outside of your individual desired timeline.
- Have a soft start-up. A soft start up eases both you and your partner into the conversation. It’s the opposite of “coming in hot”. When we do a soft start up we are emotionally sound, our voice is calm, and were using language and words that would reduce defensiveness. This can help ease your partner and yourself into the more difficult things to come in the conversation.
- Take a time-out. After the initial conversation where both parties have had an opportunity to share initial thoughts, feelings, and feedback – one or both of you might want to take some space. Taking a time out after a hard conversation in a relationship can sometimes be helpful to reduce the emotionality, elevation, or big feelings that might come up for either of you. Taking space gives each person time to process through their own thoughts and feelings without the pressure of the other person waiting for a response. NOTE: It’s important if you decide to take a time out after a tough conversation to make sure you have a set time when the two of you will come back together and continue to share thoughts.
Hard conversations and relationships are just that, hard. But maybe they don’t have to be as hard- with some intentional planning, openness, and curiosity from both partners, those hard conversations in a relationship could lead to a deeper understanding of each other.
As always, if you are in need of help in navigating tricky relationship issues, a relationship coach might be able to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out – you don’t have to do it alone.