Broaching tough conversations

In talking with a married gal pal, we discussed how sometimes it is hard to bring up difficult issues to your mate. I shared that there were things in my marriage that I wish I’d brought up, but instead kept them to myself. She agreed that she was withholding some difficult topics in her relationship as well.

However, in dating there is a freedom to bring up challenging topics. Often the reason you wouldn’t bring something up is because the risks are too great — you’re afraid of losing him or damaging the relationship irreparably. But when you’re dating, there is less risk, as if he responds poorly to the topic being brought to the table, he’s not a good match for you if you like to discuss things openly.

So not to bring something up out of fear is not doing either of you a favor. You withhold something you’d really like to discuss, and he misses the opportunity to explore it with you and find out what’s on your mind. If he responds angrily (assuming you aren’t blaming him or accusing him), he’s not able to discuss difficult issues rationally and maturely. Wouldn’t you rather know that early in the relationship rather than after you’ve invested months in this guy? I would.

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2 responses to “Broaching tough conversations”

  1. David Yoho Avatar

    This couldn’t be more true Goddess,

    For whatever reason, most men ARE reluctant (including me) to discuss deep issues. And for sure, if you don’t discuss them soon enough, they’ll haunt you later. In my previous marriage we let stuff go and our marriage went. My wife Annie doesn’t let that happen. One of the reasons I married her was her courage. This came with it.

    While this makes for some unwanted realities, we resolve our issues, expose our feelings and in the end, learn how to love each other better. The most important thing is that we’re showing deeper respect for the relationship itself and making it more important than our individual wants. The key is to do this without destroying our individualities.

    While it’s true that guys who get angry (your blog) probably aren’t the best partners, some of this is created because rules of engagement haven’t been established. Annie will often approach me about something when I’m not in the best emotional frame of mind. When the timing is bad, I tell her and she accepts it BUT it’s up to me to establish another time or get back to her within a day or two at most, depending on the gravity of the issue.

    And when the argument becomes too heated, it’s best to call a “time-out” with the promise to finish within some certain time frame. Praying before, during and after discussions helps us too.

    Confronting assorted issues has made all the difference in our marriage and has deepened our respect and trust. Any relationship can work when trust and respect exist.

    Thanks to Annie, talking things out is a foundational element in our relationship. I wouldn’t have committed this way without her steadfast, loving persistence. I’m lucky to have a partner who’s couragous enough to argue for what’s best even when it’s uncomforatble. I’ve learned to do it – I don’t think I’ll ever like it.

    Unfortunately for women, most men are like this. Most of us are insecure – even the most confident-seeming men. So while we need your understanding and patience, we also need you to assume some leadership in this area without making us feel stupid or worse- more insecure. Sadly, most of us will hide behind some coping device – and sometimes we feel pushed in that direction. This may not seem fair but neither is life.

    The good news is that our marriage works because of it.

  2. Dating Goddess Avatar

    David — thank you for your throughtful and insightful comment. You are so right that it makes a couple stronger to discuss these issues. And I believe it important to begin during dating, as you’ll get a clearer picture of who the person you’re dating is.