3 Ways to Handle Difficult Conversations in a Relationship
Sometimes being in a relationship requires having a difficult conversation. Every counselor knows that ignoring or avoiding difficult issues in a relationship can actually be more detrimental to a relationship than an argument may be. However, figuring out exactly how to have these kinds of conversations can be problematic. Here are 3 things you can do to make those difficult conversations successful.
Be direct and State the Facts
When having a difficult conversation it is important to focus on what matters most. Be direct and stick to the facts by focusing on exactly what happened and why it created a problem. Usually when the focus of the conversation is on the facts, the other party is less likely to feel attacked and will react better. Hopefully, by being direct and sticking to the facts, you will be able to end the conversation on a good note.
Control Your Emotions
Often you must be prepared for difficult conversations to become emotional. Sometimes your partner has been anticipating the conversation and they handle things very well. But at other times, it can be completely unexpected, and an emotional outburst, whether from anger or sadness, can be common. Be sympathetic but don’t forget or change your message simply because your loved one has become emotional. Your message is important and shouldn’t be compromised because you are surprised or upset by their emotions. These unexpected emotions can be difficult to handle, but often you are as emotionally invested in the issues as your partner is. Therefore, it is paramount to the success of the conversation, and your relationship, that you control your emotions.
End with a Solution
Any challenging conversation should have a purpose. Usually when a difficult conversation is necessary, it is because something our partner is doing is causing problems or bothering us. Therefore, when having those difficult conversations, our goal ought to be finding a solution to the problem. When handled appropriately, your partner will understand that it’s not a personal attack but that you are just honestly trying to find a solution. After understanding this, they are often as motivated to find a solution as you are.
Dealing with these difficult situations and conversations are never fun, but by remembering these 3 things we can ensure that our challenging conversations are less controversial and have better results.
Getting Serious? Be Sure to Discuss These 5 Topics Before Taking the Leap
Dating in a “swipe right” world is much different than how your parents dated. Courtship has evolved into speed dating, dating apps, and inflated profiles. The good news is one aspect of dating hasn’t changed. Discussing life-changing deal breakers before making ultimate commitments is still a best practice. If you find yourself in a semi-serious relationship and are contemplating a commitment, be sure to address these common social topics, and their financial implications before moving forward.
Wanting or not wanting children can make or break a relationship instantly. Know your preferences and don’t be afraid to engage in this conversation. Whether or not to have children can be a dynamic, life-changing decision. It also comes with a financial commitment of child-rearing costs, daycare, and tuitions. Make sure your partner shares your views.
Where to Live
If you’ve dreamt of country living and imagine yourself raising a family in a rural setting, you need to share this with your partner to make sure you’re not committing to someone who feels just as strongly about living in the city. Where you plan to establish your family will also have financial implications. Be sure to discuss your expectations so you can prepare together how best to manage the cost of living in your dream location.
We often avoid discussing religion when we’re starting off a new relationship. However, if you’re considering a long-term commitment, it’s probably best to have these discussions. Aligning your moral compass with someone may be simple but adhering to a series of spiritual requirements or adopting a new faith altogether might be a deal breaker. Be candid and honest about what you expect. Religion can play a part in every aspect of life together including ceremonies, child-rearing, and obligations.
Division of Finances
Be clear about your spending decisions, setting up finances and investments. If you’re adamant about maintaining your own accounts, discuss it with your partner. Maybe you both agree to make all of these financial decisions together and jointly. Don’t be afraid to discuss credit scores, outstanding debts and plans for long-term savings. The more you’re able to address up front, the easier the transition will be into a committed partnership.
Maybe your dream is to be an entrepreneur. Maybe you want to climb the corporate ladder with your firm. Maybe you don’t want to work at all. Talking about your career goals and understanding your partner’s career goals can uncover potential deal breakers. Career choices will also directly affect your income as a household.
Disagreeing on any of these topics doesn’t necessarily constitute a breakup. It will, however, be a good indicator of shared beliefs and relationship compromise. Stick to your guns on those most important to you, but don’t be afraid to negotiate others. Compromising and settling are very different. Be willing to compromise, but don’t settle for someone who challenges your core beliefs. Discussing these before walking down the aisle can help eliminate a lifetime of resentment or costly separation later.
Mind games can be complicated, and they can ruin good communication patterns. If your spouse seems to be implying two contradictory things at once, you may need some outside help to get your relationship back on track.
First, give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. If the issue at hand isn’t urgent, then let it go. Maybe your spouse is going through a rough spot in life, and his communication became unusually mixed-up. Allow some time to pass before confronting your spouse on the issue again. Chances are, given time, the mind games will disappear and you can move forward normally.
But if they don’t, don’t despair. You are not going crazy, and this is not your fault. Believe in your own sanity and seek outside help. Do you have a friend you can trust to be fair? Ask her opinion. Can someone else talk to your spouse about the issue? Try that. Gentle, non-combative ways of confronting your spouse are possible. Let him know that you don’t understand, and you don’t appreciate the mixed messages.
Mind games can seriously frustrate a good relationship, but relationships are worth working on. Take it slow, and wisely move forward to untangle the knots.