5 Tips to Get a Tough Conversation Started Right Away

This week and next week, we’re going to discuss Couples Communication. This topic is the number one issue reported to be a problem for the 100s of couples I’ve worked with over the years. Communication difficulties cause much pain and distress. When couples finally make some inroads to improve their communication, they are happier and more hopeful. Without good communication, they can’t move forward in their closeness or satisfaction with their relationship.

Part 1 is Tips for the SPEAKERĀ – the one who has decided to start a conversation about a concern.

1. Decide the topic that you are going to bring up.

Go through your lists of things that are irritating, that are recurring concerns, that will cause resentment if not addressed. Choose a topic or concern that causes you significant distress.
For example, it could be that you believe that you are doing significantly more work around the house than your partner and you want it to be more equal.

Or, you want the two of you to devote more time to having fun together.

2. Make the decision to bring up this topic.

It is likely that you have thought about your topic multiple times before and have decided against bringing it up. However, you may have also noticed that you are feeling somewhat resentful and more distant from your partner as the same issue recurs repeatedly.

Maybe you also realize that your partner is unaware that this issue exists between you. It seems like it’s time to bring it up so that it doesn’t cause any more distance.

3. Get clear on the point(s) you want to make.

This is so very important! Be sure that the points are related to the topic you are planning to discuss. Don’t bring up a series of other grievances, or else this will derail your conversation, for sure. Stay on topic, on point.

4. Get clear on why you want to discuss the topic.

This Tip is related to what we could call the Inner Game or Inner Workings of ourselves.

For example, “I want us to be more equal so I will feel closer to my partner, less resentful as I do housework, and feel valued by my partner.” These reasons are all “relationship-positive” ones, that can result in improving your relationship.

An example of a “relationship-negative” motivation would be, “I want him to know what a selfish jerk he is.” This reason to bring up a topic is one that stems from a shaming and blaming perspective and it’s very damaging.

5. Know what you are trying to achieve.

This is a crucial element to good communication. “Begin with the end in mind”. When you know your “destination” you are less vulnerable to getting “derailed” in the conversation.

Examples of “destinations”:
” For my partner to understand the impact of her behavior.
” To clear up this issue so that I can feel closer to him.
” So that my partner knows that I feel bored with our routine, sometimes, and how we might introduce more fun into our week.

Preparing for a conversation with your partner may seem like work, and it is. But it’s good work! If we treat our partner with the respect and compassion that this work makes possible, your relationship will thrive as a result of these conversations. You could decide that it’s worth the effort.

Part 2, will be TIPS FOR THE LISTENER-coming next week.

With love,

PS: Many people find that it’s very helpful to actually write down your thoughts, feelings, points you want to make and your goal. It helps them to stay focused on the what, why and how, during the conversation.

PPS: For support in communication with your partner, contact me at: or my office phone: 206-441-3121. Private Couples Breakthrough Coaching is available via phone. Also, look for my online course for couples, coming soon!

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