How to Start a Difficult Conversation with your Mate

Updated: Aug 12

Sometimes you need to talk about difficult things. How can you start the conversation in a way that will likely lead to good communication and end with smiles and hugs?

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There comes a time in every relationship when something has to be discussed that you know isn't going to be easy. You already know that you disagree, or that the topic has led to arguments in the past. But you can't avoid it forever. How to bring up difficult subjects.




Is Now a Good Time?


Observe the situation- is there external stress right now? Are either of you tired or hungry? Did you just finish a fight or are distant? Picking a good time for hard conversations is important for success. Be patient- most hard conversations aren't solved immediately so things can wait for a good time.





Start with Listening


When you know the conversation is going to be a difficult one, start by asking your partner their thoughts and feelings about it. Really listen and summarize what you hear to let them know you heard them.


Speak the Truth in Love


It's important to directly and clearly state your needs or concerns, always couched in love. Be soft in your words but clear. For example you might softly say "I have missed time with you and it bothers me when you spend so much time with your friends. I would really enjoy some one-on-one time" More on speaking the truth in love here.



You have different needs


When making requests, it's important to remember that neither of you is Santa Claus, the eternal giver who never needs anything. You both have needs and they will be different. Recognize the different needs and help each other understand them before you work towards solutions.



Solutions can be Revised


Once you understand each other's needs and listen then you might suggest a potential solution. Remember that all solutions are experiments. You will try it, and then most likely revise it to work. And life circumstances may change and need more revisions. Flexibility is key to a successful relationship.



This intervention is part of the conflict resolution skills unit within Hope Focused Couple Counseling.


Hope Focused Counseling

  • Intake and Feedback/ Conceptualization

  • Stabilization of conflict cycles (if needed)

  • Increasing bond by exploring patterns

  • Increasing bond by communication and conflict resolution skill building

  • Increasing bond by repair, forgiving and reconciling

  • Consolidating gains and planning for long-term future

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