Do you ever find that there are certain topics that you avoid talking about with your partner? Or maybe you feel there are some things that are too personal or vulnerable to be revealed. Maybe you’ve even flat out lied to your partner so that you don’t have to talk. Take a minute to think about something that you avoid talking about with that person you love…..
What is it?
- The kids?
- That thing he or she does that you can’t STAND?
Or is it something more personal?
- A secret?
- Something that you are ashamed of?
- Worries or depression?
- Bad memories?
- Vulnerabilities you try to hide from EVERYONE in your life?
Why do we avoid talking about important topics with those we love? From a rational perspective it would seem that those are exactly the people we should be talking to, right? They love us, and therefore they will accept us. We all know, however, that it often doesn’t turn out this way. Even with the best of intentions in most loving relationships, talking about certain topics can quickly turn to conflict, hurt feelings, and disconnection. This often leads even the most healthy couples to learn to avoid certain topics, because who wants to fight and feel hurt? It’s no fun!
The problem is, avoiding difficult conversations eventually leads to resentment and bigger problems. When we don’t deal directly with hard issues we tend to make up “stories” about them in our heads, making them much worse than they actually are. Truth becomes distorted, making it so that when you actually do talk about these issues, those conversations tend to not go well.
So what are you supposed to do? How can these patterns change? The first step is to start to recognize and accept that everyone in some form or another has difficulty talking about hard stuff. It brings up anxiety for us, and when we feel anxious, we tend to avoid, even when we know the right thing to do is deal with it. It is often the case that one person in a couple is able to withstand higher levels of discomfort around difficult topics than the other, but it is important to remember that all of us have a “threshold” of anxiety it is very difficult to pass. The more empathy each of you can have for each other that it is natural to feel discomfort when talking about difficult topics, the better you will be able to work through those issues.
In my next blog I will talk more specifically about how to communicate about difficult topics.
The Salt Lake Relationship Center helps couples and individuals who are feeling out of sync in their relationships and lives in general. If you feel that you are having difficulty communicating with your partner please contact us. Also please free to explore the services section of our site or click here to schedule an appointment.