I’m a big believer in the idea that the best things in life are not free! That’s right. Everything comes at a cost and I’m not talking about money, necessarily. The best things in life take a whole lot of hard work. Love is no exception. Technically, it doesn’t take any money to fall in love, but you spend a whole lot of time, effort and work on your relationship. And the most consuming and emotionally costly parts of relationships are the tough conversations. They’re not fun, but even the happiest couples have to have really hard conversations. In fact, I think that’s why they’re happy. Avoiding hard convos is a surefire way to tank your relationship. So, while they’re no one’s hobby, you do have to have them. Here’s how to have really hard relationship conversations the right way.
Talk to someone you trust
When you’re having an issue with your relationship, sometimes you’re too close to the situation to see the full picture. It’s always a good idea to talk to a trusted friend or family member to get their two cents on your problem. Of course, you need to be careful about who you confide in. Make sure it’s not someone who’s going to hold this information against you or your boo in the future. And pick someone who has a relationship, or relationship experience, you admire.
Write and practice
This sounds beyond lame, but write down what you want to say during the conversation and practice saying it in the mirror. I know this is the same advice a seventh grader doing a school project would get, but it really does apply here. Emotions run wild during conversations like this and it can be really helpful to have a script to rely on and a bit of muscle memory to take over when your brain is too overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings.
Know your options
Before you go into the conversation, be honest with yourself about the worst-case scenario. What would happen if your partner completely didn’t budge or try to understand? What about if you broke up? I know it would be sad, but in reality, you likely wouldn’t be homeless or hungry. You’d be heartbroken, but in the long-term, you’d be fine. Remember that so you come into the conversation from a place of calm knowing, not panic and fear.
I don’t know about you guys, but when it comes to big, hard convos, I can stew and get pretty angry at my boo before the conversation has even started. The guy hasn’t said a thing and I’m already livid! Completely unfair to him. To make sure I don’t start things on the wrong foot, I always try to begin conversations by being constructive and basically complimentary of my dude. It’s not always easy, but it always pays off. Start by talking about what you love about your relationships and then segue into the problematic stuff you want to address. It’ll be such a better conversation than if you just dove right into the crappy stuff.
Ask instead of blame
This is another one that’s taken me years of practice to get down. Instead of coming in and pointing fingers at what your man did wrong (even if it’s true!), ask him about his actions and where he was coming from. Blaming someone is a quick way to get them to clam up and end any chance of a productive dialogue. Asking honest questions gets the conversation flowing. It’s hard to hold back from blaming, especially when you’re heated and even more especially when you’re right, but you have to if you want this conversation to go well.
Listen. Really, really listen. This means not speaking while he’s talking, of course. But, more than that, it means not thinking when he’s talking. You can’t plan out your next point while he’s sharing his thoughts. You need to be all ears for at least half of the conversation. If there’s anything that’s not clear, don’t jump to conclusions. Ask him to explain himself more fully and hear him out. While it sounds easy, listening is actually the hardest part of these tough relationship convos.
Don’t end it
This conversation, even it goes poorly, doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship. Or even the end of the topic between you two. So, no need to go into the talk with a do or die mentality. Think of this more as the beginning instead of the final straw. Reframing it like that will make the conversation less high stakes and hopefully keep you in the calmest state of mind possible. A long-term relationship doesn’t pivot on one bad conversation. It’s important to keep things in perspective even when emotions are running high.
The hard work of a conversation like this will pay off, I promise. So don’t be scared off by the fact that you need to have a long and maybe painful talk with your boo. It could lead to a more intimate and solid relationship.