There comes a point in every relationship where both partners need to have a serious talk. Perhaps you two have been dating a while and need to communicate your feelings and expectations. Sharing your deepest feelings and exposing your vulnerability is never an easy task. Even if both of you have been dating for a long time, it’s still difficult to confess your innermost thoughts and beliefs.
However, communication is absolutely essential to any successful relationship. After all, a YourTango study found that communication issues were the main cause of 65% of divorces, followed by an inability to resolve conflicts. Many couples wrongly believe that a lack of conflicts is a sign of a healthy relationship — however, this usually means that those partners keep their emotions buried because they want to avoid fights. Of course, you shouldn’t always be at war with your significant other, but both parties must find a way to express their emotions honestly.
You might find that there are several reasons to initiate a serious conversation with your partner. You’ll want a heart-to-heart talk when you need to discuss:
Seriousness of your relationship: Are you in an exclusive relationship or just casually dating?
Financial goals and success: How will you tackle future and current money problems?
Family issues: Do your families know of your relationship? Are you planning on having a family with your partner?
Sexual wants and desires: What do you two like in bed? What needs to change?
Communication styles: How do you two prefer to talk? How much value does each person place on things like texting?
Future plans: How will you spend your time together? Include important events like a vacation or even marriage.
Political beliefs: Do you two have differing political beliefs? Will they interfere with your love life?
Expectations: What are the things both of you want out of a relationship? What ground rules should be laid down?
Remember that these topics have different answers for each couple. The important part is to make sure that you and your significant other understand what each other feels. Express what you want or need and listen to their concerns as well. If you’re ready to have that serious talk, here’s what you need to know:
Realize that such conversations are necessary. It might make you uncomfortable, but the key to success in most areas of life, including relationships, is putting up with discomfort now so that you don’t need to suffer later. Imagine if you bottled up your emotions. Imagine if you never told your loved one all the things you wanted to say. It might not seem like a big deal at first, but the buildup will slowly eat away at you and your relationship.
Start the conversation the right way. Telling someone “We need to talk” or “I need to talk to you” is the worst way to begin a conversation. Many people can tell you that these phrases will instantly set them into panic mode. Instead, begin with phrases like “I’ve been wondering about…”, “I wanted to let you know…”, or “Lately, I’ve been feeling…”. These are gentler beginnings that still get right to the point. You can also try starting on a positive note to make things easier. For example, you might say something along the lines of “I’m really glad we got to spend time together. I just wanted to tell you about something that’s been on my mind lately.”
Choose the right time. Both people need to be relaxed and comfortable. Ideally, the conversation should take place indoors after all other priorities are taken care of. Any situation that makes either person physically uncomfortable will make the conversation that much more difficult. For example, imagine if you decided to have the talk before dinner. You might be eager to express your feelings, but your partner might only be thinking of when they are going to eat.
Be clear about what you’re saying. One main communication problem that many couples go through is that some partners are vague or leave unanswered questions. When you express your feelings, make sure to cover every aspect so that nothing is left in the dark. Dig deep and explain the causes behind each emotion. For example, you might say that you were sad when they didn’t call you. Explain that your feelings stem from the fact that you were upset and wanted someone to talk to. Perhaps you wanted to call, but expected them to initiate first.
Approach the conversation with a common goal in mind. Regardless of how much you two agree or disagree, both parties should have one objective: to deepen the relationship. You don’t necessarily need to see eye-to-eye on who you voted for or how much you think you should make. However, you should agree that sharing these thoughts will help you gain a better understanding of your partner.
Listen and empathize. One of the most common complaints that many people have about their spouses is that they never listen. To avoid this, practice active listening. This technique includes using verbal affirmations, asking open-ended questions, paraphrasing, showing concern, and most importantly, listening to understand them rather than trying to formulate a response. Remember to be empathetic and try and see things from their point of view. Put yourself in their shoes and see how they feel. Always ask for feedback.
Respect them. Needless to say, respect is an incredibly crucial part of any successful relationship. Don’t attack your partner or accuse them of anything. Avoid statements that exaggerate problems. Refrain from using words such as “always” and “never.” Remember that the goal of these conversations is to become closer to your partner, not “win” the argument.
Make a promise for a better future. Many couples have days where they can’t stand the sight of each other. Those times are tough and nobody wants to go through them. Make a commitment with your loved one that you will work together for a happier and healthier relationship. This promise means that you will always be there to support them even through the difficult phases.
Despite what the movies may tell you, no relationship is perfect. Every romance has its ups and downs and it’s up to you and your loved one to navigate them together. It might not be a fun or easy process, but it’s a necessary evil. You will have to engage with these tough conversations because communication is key to any successful relationship. Remember that if you want to be successful, you must first put in the work. Having those uncomfortable conversations will be scary, but both partners will benefit from it.