Who do you talk to the most in this world? I’d wager your partner is pretty close to #1 on that list. Despite that, we all find it difficult to discuss our problems with our partner. Whether it’s a problem we have at work, with our family, personally, or with the relationship itself. Talking about our problems is always a challenge.
Your partner should be the first person you turn to when you need to get something off your chest, especially if they are the cause of the problem. Likewise, your partner needs to feel like they can talk to you about anything without the fear of you getting angry or judgemental.
Talking about your problems in your relationship isn’t easy, but with the right mindset, some courage, and patience you can get it done. Read on to find out how.
Problems with something your partner does
Having a problem with something your partner does is pretty unavoidable in a relationship. It could be as mundane as leaving their make up on the sink. Or it could be a very deep rooted problem, such as not feeling satisfied sexually.
These problems need to be addressed as quickly as possible. The longer you let them linger, the greater your frustration will grow. This will only lead to an angry argument about the issue. Keeping a cool head is the only way to discuss these issues with your partner.
Confronting your partner about something they do is tricky. It is very easy to feel like they’re being attacked or criticized in this situation. The key here is to make this more about how their behaviour makes YOU feel, rather than specifically what they are doing.
When Katie and I first moved in together she had the bad habit of leaving her make up all over the sink after she was done with it. I’m not necessarily a clean freak, but I like to have things organized, I’m not a fan of clutter. I would always clean up and put things away when I found the sink like that.
I was quickly getting annoyed with Katie. Rather than let this problem fester and boil over I had a quick and calm discussion with her about it. I told her how clutter is just one of those pet peeves of mine, although very minor, leaving her makeup out was frustrating for me.
I explained to Katie how I would appreciate it if she could help keep our bathroom organized by putting away her things when she’s done using them.
Since then Katie’s been great about keeping the bathroom organized. And she is not shy to point out when I’m just as guilty of the same behaviour, because she knows she can come talk about it without me getting upset.
Share your personal problems with your partner. You’re not in this alone.
Are your always tired? Have you been hiding a medical problem? Do you feel unfulfilled by your work? Are you not getting along with your parents? Are you depressed? Why are you keeping this all to yourself?
You and your partner are a team. Working together you will be able to tackle any personal problems in your lives. You have someone who loves you with all their heart to help you through whatever personal problems you may be going through.
You might feel like you’re burdening your partner with your problems. Instead you should see it as a great way to build trust in your relationship. Allowing someone to see you being vulnerable is a privilege we share with very few people in our lives.
A relationship is nothing without trust. Being vulnerable and discussing your problems with your partner will encourage them to do the same. A whole new line of honest communication will open in your relationship. Bringing you closer than ever.
You’re not in this alone. Take the lead, spill your guts to your partner, and you’ll feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.
Steps to discussing problems in your relationship
Talking about any type of problem with your partner is a challenge. We’d all rather sweep these problems under the rug and just snuggle up on the couch together. Unfortunately we can’t continue to go through life like that.
Discussing problems specifically about your relationship is going to be even bigger test of your love. Are you bored? Do you want to take your relationship to the next level, but you feel your partner isn’t ready? Do you feel like you’re not getting the love you used too? Are you simply unhappy with your relationship?
These are all very daunting topics. However, for the good of your relationship it needs to be done. The sooner the better. The longer you wait to discuss any issue regarding your relationship the harder it will get. Psychalive.org has a great in depth article on the steps you need to take to communicate better in your relationship.
There is never going to be a shortage of problems in your relationship, big or small. It’s an inevitable part of life. You can’t avoid them no matter how hard you try.
Katie and I have had our share of problems in our relationship, but we consistently find ways to discuss our problems and find a solution. So what is the best way to discuss problems with your partner? These steps will put you on the right path.
It’s Us Versus the Problem
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of ME vs YOU when talking about your problems. Our first instincts are to go on the defensive.
“I don’t spend too much money. You’re just cheap!”
Remember, you’re a team. You and your partner, when working together, are an unstoppable force. This is the mindset you need to adopt when discussing any relationship problem.
Whether it’s a problem with something your partner does, a personal problem, or a looming issue in your relationship the strategy remains the same. It’s US versus the problem.
If you’re having trouble getting into this paradigm try this exercise. Write out the problem on a piece of paper in big bold letters. Place it on the table in front of you. Then both of you sit on the same side of the table while facing the problem.
If you find yourselves directing the problem at each other, STOP! Breathe. Turn and face the problem on the piece of paper together again.
Never forget, it’s you two versus the problem. How are you going to beat it together?
Write it down first
As I mentioned above writing down the problem will help you stay focused on the issue at hand. What is the core of the problem? When did it start? Does it affect one or both of you? What have you tried so far to solve the problem?
Put everything down on paper. Don’t miss any little detail. The more in depth you get the better chance of getting to the core of the problem. You can also try writing everything down separately, then coming together to compare notes.
Write Your Partner a Letter
This is a twist on the above step. Katie and I made an agreement very early in our relationship. If we ever have an issue or are upset with the other person we’ll write them a letter. There are three advantages to this technique..
- It allows us to carefully articulate the issue, instead of just spitting anger and frustration at each other.
- By carefully writing out the details of why we’re angry a light bulb might go off in our heads with a solution.
- Or, when we’re finished writing the letter there is a good chance we’re no longer upset. We’ll just end up deleting it.
Keeping cool is a big part of solving a problem rationally and logically. Writing everything down on paper will help you keep your focus and a level head.
Don’t play the hero, Just Listen
We love our partners. No one wants to see their loved ones in any kind of turmoil. We just want to make them happy and fill their lives with kittens, rainbows, and sunshine forever and ever.
Then real life comes along and smacks us right in the head. Sick parents, overtime at work, and overbearing friends all cast shadows in our loved ones life. Turning our partners into a gloomy, sullen, ball on the couch.
Here we come to the rescue! With our solutions so simple we wonder why they haven’t tried them yet. Unfortunately if life was that simple we’d never have problems in the first place.
Don’t try to be a hero. More often than not you’re partner is looking for someone to listen and empathize with them. They’re not looking for Relationship Batman. Just be there for your partner. Give them a hug, listen with open ears, and offer your help, but don’t insist on it. Simple silence can be golden in a situation like this. If you’re having trouble just listening to your partner go try our active listening couples exercise.
Solutions Take Time
Take your time finding a solution to the problem. Not all situations are the same, but you likely have more time than you think to find a solution.
Talk with your partner about the problem. Take the time to go over every little detail. Take a break, have some lunch. Do a workout or some yoga. Go your separate ways for a bit, run some errands, then come back together to analyze the problem again. Getting a good night’s rest can do wonders for your emotional strength.
Having a sense of urgency is good. Panicking and rushing to a solution is not. You’ll end up digging yourselves into a deeper hole. Talk, breathe, think, chill, and work together to stay focused and calm. You have more time than you think.
Change the scenery
If you’re having trouble getting the flow of your conversation going, try getting out of the house. Katie and I will often go on a leisurely 30 minute walk just to clear our heads together.
The change of scenery allows us to loosen up and just let the conversation flow. Sometimes we’ll walk in silence for a good 5 or 10 minutes absorbed in our thoughts. That’s ok too. By the time we get home we’re in a much better mindset to evaluate solutions to the problem again.
Talking About Problems Is A Two Way Street
Talking with your partner about your problems is never going to be easy. It doesn’t have to be hard either. You both need to be ready to share your problems with the person that cares for you most in this world.
By allowing yourself to open up and be vulnerable with your partner you give them the courage to be vulnerable right back. You’ll find your relationship stronger for it. Isn’t that weird how life works? Vulnerability leading to strength.
What has been bothering you lately? Go have that chat with your partner right now and get that flow going. No time like the present to talk about your problems and strengthen your relationship!
Image courtesy of anankkml, tuelekza & photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net