Communicating effectively in a relationship is critical to the success of the affair. But a lot of times we shy away when it comes to hard conversations. We become pros at the avoiding game in hopes that the problem will go away on its own. But the truth is, most of the time unaddressed problems don’t disappear, they only create distance between you and the other person. Here are some tips on how to have conversations in your relationship even when it’s hard.
1. You DO need to talk.
Feelings don’t go away unless you work through them. If there is something between the two of you affecting how you feel about the relationship, it is worth having a conversation about.
2. Try to avoid conflict’s biggest enemy: rationalization.
Don’t rationalize to avoid having to talk. “Oh well everything else is good so we don’t need to talk” or “I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings” or “I don’t want to be too needy” are all common rationalizations we use to avoid expressing our feelings.
3. You don’t have to be mean to express how you feel.
While you are requiring the attention of the other person during this conversation, you are not being mean. You are simply asking them to hear you out and try to understand how you feel about something. You don’t have to feel guilty about having difficult conversations.
4. Use words that focus on your feelings.
Focus on how you feel about the situation as opposed to what the other person did wrong. This is a much more loving way to be heard and understood without the other person feeling like they need to put their defenses up.
5. Don’t criticize each other.
Remember this is not the blame game! Treating it like it is only makes the other person feel like they are being attacked. Communicate in a way that is productive!
6. Avoid the list of wrongdoings.
The list of wrongs can quickly turn a conversation initiated in love to a conversation that leads to insults, hurtful words and distance in your relationship. (Really, you should never let a problem build up so high in a relationship that you feel like you have a list of things the other person is doing wrong anyway.) Communicate often and honestly! Be real about how you feel but say it in a way that still validates what the other person means to you and affirm them in the areas where things are going right.
7. Be completely honest with each other.
You cannot just lightly brush the surface of a problem in a relationship. By being honest in your relationship and having these hard conversations you are showing how deeply you value the relationship. It may seem counter intuitive, but it is crucial to the lasting success of a relationship that we are honest with each other.
8. Listen to what the other person has to say.
You have to be willing to hear out what the other person may have to say after you finish talking. For the most part, people have good intentions in what they do, so it is completely normal for them to want to explain their side of the story too. The hope is that both of you can express yourselves to each other without feeling defensive or misunderstood.
9. Follow-up with a healthy discussion.
Hard conversations in a relationship are going to lead to discussions of what you might want to do differently in your relationship or the practical conversation of ‘now what’?! This can be a great step for growth between the two of you!
10. Let the confrontation help your relationship grow.
Relationships are only as strong as the communication you have between the two of you. The truth is, life is tough and we need to be loved by people who value us as individuals more than they value a good day or the image that everything is perfect. Hard conversations can make your relationship stronger because it reinforces your ability to be honest and open with each other.