Conversations are the basis of our relationships. We form friendships and bonds through connecting with similarities — or differences — in our communication. Oftentimes, fruitful conversations will strengthen the bonds with our partners, if done correctly. They’re necessary to discover how one another is changing and to keep the bond strong as the relationship grows.
The Benefits of Tough Conversations in Relationships
Conversations, and communicating in general, is what keeps humankind feeling connected. Talking with a loved one, partner, or even stranger helps us feel accepted and acknowledged. By holding deep conversations with your partner, you can build a feeling of trust and security with one another.
Change in relationships is inevitable as we each grow as people, and conversations are the string that continues to connect us. In turbulent times in relationships, it’s often that much more difficult to sit down and have a genuine discussion about our thoughts and feelings. However, that’s when having an open talk is most important. By focusing on the other person, and actually listening to their experiences from our actions, we can develop empathy and understanding for our partner.
How to Have a Tough Conversation With Your Partner
If deep, meaningful conversations feel intimidating in your relationship, you can start with journaling to breakdown the initial barriers. Eventually, those journal entries can turn into fruitful conversations once both people are feeling safe and connected.
When you’re beginning your conversations with your partner, consider the following:
- Think before speaking: Oftentimes, it’s tempting to react instead of listening when having a conversation, especially if the viewpoint of our partner is different than ours. Instead of becoming defensive, seek to understand before responding. Your partner is speaking their truth, whether or not their emotions are how you intended to make them feel. Give them time to respond and wait at least a minute to say your piece if you have the feeling of being defensive.
- Ask questions: Listening involves asking questions. Like the tip above, successful conversations are about seeking to understand, and the best way to do that is with questions. Try to keep your inquiries open-ended to create a dialogue when you’re speaking to one another.
- Stay positive: When we’re having sensitive conversations, it’s important that your partner feels safe. The tone of your voice can easily impact the direction of the conversation and can change the outcome altogether. Before each person speaks, remind yourself that you’re coming from a place of love and understanding — even if you’re not immediately on the same page.
Before having a difficult conversation with your partner, think about what you both want to achieve from the talk and consider what your reaction may be if you don’t get the outcome you’re looking for.
21 Conversation Starters for Couples
While your conversations will likely get to deeper levels the more practice you both have with one another, you have to start somewhere. No discussion is a small one, as long as you’re delving deeper than surface-level thought.
When you’re beginning to have an open line of communication with your partner, use these conversation starters as a starting point.
- How would you describe your love language?
- Who do you look up to most in your life?
- When was the last time you were upset and what did you do to feel better?
- If you could turn back time, what would you do differently? Why?
- What do you consider your worst habit? Have you been able to stop it? Why or why not.
- What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
- Who was your first love? What happened to your romance and why didn’t it work out?
- Describe the last adventure you went on, what made it so enjoyable?
- If our story was a romantic comedy, how would you explain the plot?
- Describe your ideal partner. Why do you focus most on looks/personality/attributes?
- Have you been monogamous in your past relationships?
- Do you see yourself having kids?
- Have you accomplished what you envisioned for yourself when you were young?
- What are three of your most important values?
- Who do you consider to be your closest friend on an emotional level? Why?
- What does your ideal marriage look like?
- Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, and 20 years?
- What has been your biggest struggle to date, mentally and/or physically?
- Do you believe in soulmates?
- When was the last time you struggled with your self-image, and how did you work towards acceptance?
- Were your parents a big influence on how you approach your relationships today?
The infographic below allows you to develop an understanding of your partner’s personality type so you can better structure your conversation for a successful outcome. Once you find their type of disposition, use the graphic as a roadmap to beginning your conversations, and how to approach roadblocks that may come about.