So what can you do to overcome the challenges that interfere with your being the best possible listener or speaker that you can be in "The Conversation".
1) When you are flooded by impulses to respond angily to your partner's concerns or criticisms, take deep breaths and ask yourself how would you like your partner to respond to you if you were to share your concerns. Take more deep breaths, calm down and be the person you would like your partner to be for you.
2) While your partner's comments may make no sense to you, it is because you are not understanding how he/she has come to her/his view. When your partner is finshed, ask for help in gaining a clearer picture of how she/he has arrived at her/his perspective. This is not for the purpose of gathering information so that you can use it later in your rebuttal, but to create a sense of caring which takes place when one person truly tries to understnad another.
3) If you know you are already stressed and will have a hard time listening or presenting your concerns in a caring, respectul way, do not engage in "the conversation" but let your spouse know that it is because you are stressed and you do want to listen to her/him or speak with her/him at a time when you can be fully present.
4) When you haven't felt loved lately it is difficult to be loving or respond positively to someone who is angry or disappointed in you; however, ask yourself if you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say that you didn't give 100% to the relationship because it was hard or rather that when times were tough, you rose to the challenge and you continued to lead the way for a caring relationship even though it was not easy.
Next week: More on overcoming the challenges to being a caring partner when having "the conversation".