When you’re ready to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your spouse, you want it to go well. If it starts going south once it’s started, it’s REALLY hard to recover in the moment. Even after the fact, if you can’t figure out how to resolve the matter, or at the least understand him or agree to disagree, then the tension between you will mount. With each new issue that goes unresolved, tension grows. It grows and grows like a snowball rolling down a hill doomed for a crash.
That’s why it behooves you to take a few extra measures BEFORE you talk to optimize your chances of it going well. First thing you need to do is figure out exactly what you want the outcome to be. Do you want him to do something different? or his kids? Or do you just need him to understand you, give you support? Or maybe you have an idea for a new rule and you’d like to explore the pros and cons of it. Whatever it is, be specific.
If you’re not clear up front (with yourself), you won’t be able to convey it clearly. And it’s likely nothing will change. And I mean nothing — ’cause he’ll be confused about what was covered and the reason you wanted to talk. But if you seem to be happy afterward, he’ll be satisfied thinking that you’re satisfied, and figure he doesn’t need to figure it out. So he won’t.
Knowing exactly what you want goes hand in hand with the 3 questions you must ask yourself: 1) Who needs to change? 2) What needs to change? 3) How does it/he/she need to change? I wrote more about them in a previous blog post, that you can read by clicking here. This preparation allows you to be concise. It gives you the bottom line. If you’ve talked for awhile and you see your husband’s eyes glazed over, overtly state the answers to these questions.
Second, figure out the setting of the conversation. Here are a few suggestions:
- Find time when you’ll be alone together, preferably when the kids are at their friends’ or the babysitter’s.
- Turn off your cell phones and all electronics. (The last thing you want is an interruption just as he’s giving you an answer or when you’re in the flow of saying everything exactly the right way).
- Try having this discussion as you go for a walk through the park. This way, his guard isn’t immediately up by saying, “Let’ talk”. This keeps his defenses down, and walking side-by-side infers equality. So this promotes an air of “discussing” (mutual back and forth) vs “being told” (and fearing being in trouble or pending doom). I got this tip from Relationship Expert, Alison Armstrong, and have personally experienced the positive effect of doing it.
Whatever you do, don’t cower away from bringing it up. Don’t ignore it! Letting it fester only makes it worse. Plus, not ever talking about it diminishes your ability to communicate with him, instead of enhancing it. AND, it pretty much guarantees that nothing will change, or will it get worse.
Nothing will change unless:
- You’re able to communicate effectively with each other (i.e. You feel comfortable asking for what you need and trusting you’ll get it).
- You’re aware of what is expected of you.
- You can be honest with yourself and your partner.
- You both work through the discomfort.
As Alison Armstrong says, “Cough it up. Blow it up. Clean it up.” Commit to the conversation and to figuring out a solution, even if it takes time or new resources.
If you’re committed and resolute, you’ll be amazed at what can happen.
If you found value in anything I shared today, I’d love for you to comment below and let me know. Also, if you try this, please come back and comment below to share how it worked out for you. Your experience may help other readers with what they’re going through.