Love/Relationship Columnist
6 Tough Talks That Can Lead to an Improved Relationship
Mar 3, 2014 - 12:03:36 AM

( - Three of the most feared words in a relationship are, "We have to talk." When you hear these four words you know it isn't good, and usually someone's not happy. No one teaches us how to confront or talk about things we aren't happy or satisfied with. For the most part, when we are upset we cry, vent or say nothing. Holding emotions in leads to sickness, and talking about them in a constructive manner can make them better and improve your relationships no matter whom they are with.

Below are six common problems that occur in relationships. If you find yourself feeling frustrated or get a pain in your stomach whenever a specific issue occurs, it's time to speak up and say something. Knowing how to phrase or bring up an incident prior to speaking up can help minimize the problem and strengthen your relationship.

Problem: Your friend never pays their share when you go out.

Answer: If you are paying every time you get together with your friend, you will soon become resentful and not want to get together anymore. It is not your fault that your friend has mismanaged their finances or doesn't have the money to enjoy a time out. If you continue to pay for their meals, you are an enabler, not a good friend. Prior to setting your next get together, ask them if they want to do something else, more affordable for them, and then when or wherever you go, ask for separate checks. Opting for a coffee date instead of drinks or dinner will save both of you money. There are plenty of things you can do that are free.

Problem: You think your partner lied to you.

Answer: Before you accuse, make sure you know they lied. No one likes being accused of something they didn't do, especially lying. Before you address the issue, know what you want. Do you want them to confess, ask forgiveness, or to explain? This is important, because emotions get out of hand and relationships split, as do friendships, over heated topics such as lying. If your partner/friend admits the accusation, then you can decide what you want from the relationship going forward. No matter what happens, it is important that you tell them how much the incident hurt you and how betrayed you feel. When there is a lie told the worst part of the lie is not the problem, it's the cover up. The best outcome in confronting your partner is you understand what happened, what was honestly said, and that your partner knows how much it hurt you. If you feel that you can no longer trust your partner/friend, then it is an opportune time to end the relationship. Usually people who lie about their love/friends have a habit of lying. It is a problem on their part and involves their intense need to be liked and included. You cannot fix a liar with love.

Problem: Your friend or partner is consistently late.

Answer: Being consistently late is disrespectful to the person you are meeting. You teach others how to treat you, so if you allow it, you become part of the problem. The next time you have a date, prior to the date, tell your friend/partner that you don't want to push the time. Tell them to choose a time they can be there. This issue is best addressed prior to meeting, but telling them gently when you see them that you understand they are busy and time is precious, but it is precious for you as well. Let them know you want to be told if they are going to be late.

Problem: Your partner no longer listens to you.

Answer: This is the number one problem in relationships. When one partner tunes out another the relationship begins feeling distant and alone. When your partner does this it's important to pay attention to when it happens. Does it happen during times of stress or all of the time? During times of stress you can minimize their lack of listening if you talk slowly and calmly (voice tone escalates stress). If it is all of the time, focus on how they are tuning you out. Are they talking over you or just not paying attention? Talking over you is a sign of disrespect, and you can ask them directly to stop interrupting. If they are tuned out, ask them to give you eye contact when you are talking. Asking them for feedback helps as well. Tuning out happens most of the time when electronics are on. Having time for the relationship without electronics engaged is a must for couples.

Problem: Your partner is mismanaging money.

Answer: Most families have dual incomes and it isn't okay if you are the one saving while your partner is out spending. Infidelity happens with money the same way it happens with sex. Lying about how much things cost, as well as buying things you want instead of considering the whole family is not okay. Setting up a monthly budget plan and discussing the plan directly with your partner works. Couples who plan a vacation or something they can share together helps motivate both to continue a savings plan. It is not your job to keep your partner on track. Telling your partner how you feel directly and visiting a financial advisor if you need help with your financial budget can save your relationship.

Problem: You've hit the "friend zone" in your relationship and don't feel the romance anymore.

Answer: With kids, work and your daily commitments it's easy to forget or ignore the importance of romance in your life. Intimacy issues are a leading cause of relationships failing though, so it's important to speak up if you aren't feeling the love anymore. Timing is important when you broach this topic and the best time is during a quiet time when the two of you have each other's focus. Simply stating how much you miss being close and intimate with your partner will help prevent them from becoming defensive, but it's important to stay positive. Romance is about building connection and you don't need a special place to do that. You can do it during movie night with the kids. Take the time to be supportive and hug your partner whenever you can. Reinforce them with comments that are positive instead of critical. Telling your partner you agree with them or showing appreciation is a way of building romance into your relationship. Another option that helps is if you offer help in solving the obstacles that stand in the way of being able to spend time with your partner. Working together to help get kids to bed early as well as planning a babysitter once a week for date night help lessen the load on your partner. Couples who prioritize their time alone each week share more intimacy and romance.

No matter what the situation or who it's with there are important points to keep in mind when confronting them.

1.      Timing is everything.

2.      Compromise works best.

3.      Tell the truth about how you feel...a feeling is never right or wrong, it just is.

4.      Choose your battles wisely.

5.      Try to understand the situation from the other person's point of view.

Tough talks may make your palms sweaty and your heartbeat race, but they also have an incredible ability to draw you closer to your partner. Don't put them off just because they're tough. -Mary Jo Rapini

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