One of the most challenging conversations for couples is the one about the relationship or some concern about what is happening or not happening between the partners. Here are my guidelines to help improve the outcome of any such conversations:
Guidelines for the Relationship Talk
1) Give your partner the benefit of the doubt before you start the discussion. Try to find a place in your heart that allows for the possibility that whatever is causing you concern is not being done by your partner because he/she does not care about you.
2) During the conversation, try to be civil no matter how you feel, Act respectfully (the way you would like to be treated) and do not raise your voice even though you may start to feel agitated by what is said.
3) Attempt to be very positive and solution oriented rather than assigning blame
4) Limit time to ten minutes unless both agree to extend the conversation.
5) Utilize whatever self soothing techniques work best for you if you start to feel stressed (breathing, self talk, etc)
6) Keep in mind that the most important goal is to be able to maintain a process of ongoing communication whereby you can continue to talk to each other about issues even if you do not reach a satisfactory conclusion in any given conversation
7) Also work towards creating a feeling of friendship and caring about each other rather than acting as adversaries.
8) Try to not communicate displeasure or disagreement with body movements (crossing arms. Looking away or down) or facial gestures (rolling of the eyes, frowning, etc.)
9) Try to end each conversation with a hug and a kiss