The Tough Stuff: How to Tackle Hard-to-Have Conversations

The Tough Stuff: How to Tackle Hard-to-Have Conversations

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No matter the circumstances, from wedding planning to finances to family matters, hard topics can (and will) come up over the course of your relationship. And while those topics seem tough, talking about them can seem even harder. But those difficult discussions need to be had, so we've put together a few tips that may make talking about a hard topic a little bit easier.

Remember that, while these topics can seem challenging right now, being able to talk about them will strengthen your relationship and help you practice skills that will make these conversations much easier in the long run. So instead of shying away from something you'd rather not discuss, use these tools to face it head-on.

Begin by preparing yourself for the discussion. You can only have a successful conversation if you are honest with yourself about what you need to talk about, as well as what you hope to get out of it. Remember that there won't be a winner-instead, it's about working through an issue together and coming out stronger on the other side.

Next, let your partner know that you have something you'd like to talk about. The two of you should pick a time and place to talk where you can both focus fully. Some couples do their best talking in the car, while others need to sit face-to-face at a table in a quiet room with no distractions. The timing is also key. If your partner isn't ready to talk, the conversation will go nowhere. Make sure you both have plenty of time to devote, and are both in a good mind-set. Pick a moment that is convenient for both of you, when you don't have any plans later that could cut your conversation short.

If you're worried that things could get heated, agree to some ground rules before you start. You should each have an opportunity to speak while the other person listens, and should refrain from yelling, calling names, or anything else that could make the conversation even harder than it already will be.

Once the conversation starts, commit yourself to listening closely. You may know exactly what you want to say, but there's no way of knowing how your partner will respond. Instead of focusing on what you'd like to say next, really listen to what they're saying so you can respond to what they're actually thinking and feeling.

Finally, once you've both had a chance to speak and discuss the issue at hand, figure out the next steps. Is there something you each agree to work on? What are your expectations now that you've both had an opportunity to share your feelings? You'll both feel much better about the conversation knowing that you've agreed upon a way to handle the situation, too. Ask yourselves "Now what?" and create some sort of plan of action.

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