Hard conversations in marriage can often be intimidating, awkward and downright unpleasant, but they are nevertheless essential to having a successful relationship. They are conversations which cover difficult topics, such as money, expectations, in-law issues and division of household chores. They can be uncomfortable because no one wants to approach a disagreement or problem head-on, only to find out that the other person involved doesn’t feel the same way.
Unfortunately, hard conversations in marriage can’t be avoided. They are an inevitable part of any relationship, and if they’re not discussed and managed properly, they can end up causing more harm than good. Having a good communication system in place, and being honest and open with each other, is key to keeping a healthy marriage or relationship. Taking on hard conversations in marriage not only encourages understanding, but it also gives couples an opportunity to evaluate how they handle disagreements and tackle emotional topics.
Different Types of Hard Conversations
A. Money: Money conversations can be some of the toughest conversations to have in marriage. Whether it’s discussing one spouse’s spending habits or tackling the budget for the month, finances are a stressful subject for couples. A candid and honest conversation about money is vital for married couples who want to maintain peace and harmony in the relationship.
B. Sex: From differences in libido to communication around intimacy, discussing sex in marriage can be tricky. But tackling tough conversations around sex can help couples build a more emotionally fulfilling and connected marriage. By communicating openly and without judgement, couples can more easily work through issues and maintain a satisfying love life.
C. Children: When couples become parents, disagreements often arise over child-rearing decisions. It’s not uncommon for disagreements to lead to arguments between spouses. By establishing open and honest dialogue, couples can talk through disagreements and compromise on decisions around how to raise their children. Doing so allows them to maintain a strong, unified front.
Preparing for a Hard Conversation
A. Establishing Ground Rules
When having a hard conversation with your spouse, it’s important to set some ground rules. Have a discussion together before having the difficult conversation to talk about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour during it. Some ground rules might include talking without raising your voices, listening without judgment, taking breaks if needed and no name-calling. Make sure you both agree to abide by these rules and recognise that they exist to keep the conversation civil and respectful.
B. Setting a Time and Place
It can be easy to have it out right away when conflict arises, but doing so can make it tougher to get a positive outcome. Setting a specific time for the hard conversation can help to ensure both parties are well-prepared with their thoughts and feelings.
Choose a relatively private place for the conversation that is free of interruptions and distractions, like a park or private room in the house.
C. Gathering Your Thoughts
Gathering your thoughts and focusing your energy on the conversation at hand can take some time and effort. Consider writing down some of your thoughts ahead of the conversation to ensure that you are clear and articulate within it. If you need to, practice saying them out loud in the mirror or with a friend to ensure you feel confident.
Remind yourself going into the hard conversation that it’s an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion and work towards a better understanding. Taking the time to prepare for a hard conversation will help to ensure a positive outcome once it’s completed.
During the Conversation
A. Listening and Understanding
It’s important to take time to really listen to your partner when having a difficult conversation in marriage. While you may know what you want to say, it’s important to first listen to your partner’s viewpoint without interruption. This gives your partner the opportunity to get their thoughts across and for you to really understand where they are coming from. By listening patiently, you can help create a safe space for both of you to communicate honestly and with respect.
B. Being Open and Honest
The key to having an open and honest conversation is to provide your honest opinion, without the fear of judgment. That requires the other individual to be emotionally receptive to the conversation and recognize that being open and honest is essential to ensure progress in the conversation. When being open and honest, be sure to communicate your feelings in a respectful and understanding manner, while also allowing your partner to express themselves.
C. Remaining Respectful
As difficult as conversations in marriage can be, it’s important to remain respectful towards one another — even if you don’t always agree with what the other person is saying. Respect includes expressing your opinion without name-calling or attacking, speaking calmly, and not making assumptions. It also means respecting your partner’s right to have a difference of opinion — even if it doesn’t match up with your own. Ultimately, by recognizing each other’s point-of-view, it can help keep the conversation civil and productive.
After the Conversation
A. Repairing the Relationship
After a difficult conversation, it can be tough to repair the relationship to a place of comfortability. An important first step is to talk about how you’re both feeling and process what happened. Taking time to listen and validate each other’s feelings is important during this stage. It might not always be easy, but it’s essential to have an open dialogue. Also, it’s important to find ways of reaffirming each other, whether it’s with kind words, physical affection, or even a thoughtful gift.
B. Following Through With Action
Once the conversation has happened, it’s essential to follow through with any agreements or action steps. This will show the other person that you respect and value their contributions. When following through with action steps, it’s important to set milestones and check-ins along the way. This will help to ensure progress is made in a timely manner and that both parties are aligned.
C. Making Sure There Are No Lingering Issues
Finally, it’s important to make sure there are no lingering issues or resentments that can seep up later. It’s important to try and put all of the issues on the table, so nothing is left unresolved. Checking in from time to time to ensure everything is okay is a good way to maintain the relationship and protect it in the long-term.
This article addressed the importance of having hard conversations in marriage, even though it can be difficult. We discussed why it’s important to have these difficult conversations and how couples can approach them.
Having hard conversations in marriage can be hard, but it’s essential to a healthy relationship. When couples can approach difficult conversations openly and honestly with each other they can help to strengthen their marriage by communicating better and increasing understanding between each other.
Tackling hard conversations in marriage can be a painstaking task, but it’s an essential part of being in a strong, successful relationship. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge and open up a tough dialogue with your partner. Once you’ve had initial discussions, it can actually become easier to navigate future conversations as you go forward as a couple. When couples have courageous conversations and take the time to listen and understand each other, they can foster more understanding, stronger connection and trust with each other.