The conversation you’re avoiding, is the doorway to the intimacy you want.
There are certain conversations we’re all afraid of having in our intimate relationships. Things like sex, financial inequality, one person not taking care of their health, differences in the desire for children, tend to be uncomfortable because there’s a lot at stake. You both have different perceptions around the issue. You enter into these conversations with fear and distrust that the other will not listen to your needs, experiences and perceptions. The unfortunate truth is the relationship, intimacy and connection you want is on the other side of these conversations.
Every couple has its boogeymen
I’d venture to say that almost every relationship on the planet has some things left unsaid and unspoken. When these conversations are not addressed, it creates a bunch of fog and density around the relationship, which impacts your health, intimacy and creates a chronic sense of all-pervading stress. Maybe one partner really wants to have another child but doesnt bring it up because of fear of the other getting upset and taking it the wrong way. So the partner holds it indefinitely and everything they see—kids on the playground, at the store, etc— reminds them of this unsaid thing. It builds and builds until it’s unfortunately brought up in the complete wrong time and place, often in a fight about something entirely different.
Kitchen sink fights
When problems are not discussed openly, they slowly mount up until everything comes spilling out at an inopportune moment and in what I call “Kitchen Sink Fights.” Kitchen sink fights happen when both parents have an accrual of things left unsaid, and something sparks an argument, and by the end of the argument they’ve thrown the kitchen sink at each other. This is a completely inadequate way to solve problems and a dysfunctional pattern we want to avoid.
Having Frequent Adult Conversations.
The best way to approach this is to schedule frequent conversations where you’re going to discuss these important issues. It’s relieving for both parties to schedule a particular time that processing these hard conversations happens, and then they’re put to rest and you both go for a walk. Each partner should build and keep a list.
During these conversations, use these parameters.
- Each person gets a turn to talk about their issue.
- Issues don’t need to be resolved.
- Both partners must vow to have the conversation with an open mind.
- Work on one issue at a time. Don’t bring other issues into it.
- Assume you won’t always get what you want
- Practice listening, restraint and perspective taking
- Be cooperative and look for win-win solutions.
- It’s more important to stay in connection versus being right.
- Hold paradox and differences
- Own the younger parts of yourself, without making them wrong or shaming them. Anytime you feel yourself saying “I never get x” “They’re going to leave it I get x,” “I deserve to get what I want,” “I don’t need to listen, I need to be heard,” notice them and bring them up to speed that you’re here as an adult, you hear their concerns and needs, and you’re going to advocate for them, without losing the relationship.
You both need to feel safe.
You should expect in these conversations for there to be a certain amount of distress. Be committed to slowing down, and focus on regulating both your and your partner’s distress. You’re opening up vulnerable terrain between you both and you want to make sure that neither party feels punished, or abandoned. Once the conversation is over, it’s best to stay together to some degree. It could be in the same room reading together, or going for a walk together—anything that keeps you in close proximity.
If you want help implementing any of these ideas into your relationship, reach out to me and book a free call here.