In any relationship, there will be times when you must have that awkward conversation. There will be topics or issues that neither of you wants to discuss, but the only way through is to sit down and talk. But don’t just say, “Honey, we need to talk.” If you want a positive outcome, you need to be strategic and get prepared before you even mention it.
If you’re puzzling over how to bring up a tricky issue, here are 4 tips to help you prepare:
1. Don’t Put off Talking
Difficult conversations get more problematic the longer you postpone them. The whole issue gets loaded down with emotion, and that’s the wrong place to start from. Your partner will know there’s something wrong, you’ll be dreading bringing up the subject, and you’ll both start from a defensive position.
2. Check Your Expectations
Don’t start the discussion expecting a fight. Don’t try and pre-empt how your partner will react, or what they might say. How often have you already played through the argument in your head before you even start talking? Be strategic and think of what outcome you want from the conversation. Think positive, and the whole tone of your approach will change.
3. Be Clear About Why You’re Talking
Before you start, it’s essential to know what you want to get out of the discussion. Do you want to clarify a misunderstanding? Do you want your partner’s view or assistance on a problem? Is there something they have said or done that you need to work through? Maybe it’s a complicated discussion about another person, and how they are impacting your relationship.
Try to focus on one issue. Don’t go in with a shopping list of problems, or your partner will feel attacked.
It can help to write down the problem, and even rehearse what you might say.
4. Be Prepared for Uncomfortable Emotions
You should try to stay calm when talking about difficult issues. After all, you really don’t want things to escalate into a fight. But accept that it will be stressful. One or both of you are likely to feel sad, angry, or hurt. Emotions are likely to run high.
Acknowledge the feelings you’re both having and accept that you may feel divided. You can be honest about that in talking with your partner. Say that it’s difficult, say that you know you’ll each have a different view on the issue.
The more open and honest you can be, the better, and the more likely you are to be able to work through the problem.
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