How and When to Talk about Something Important

Something is REALLY important to you. When is it best for the relationship to bring it up and how should you approach the subject? Here is a skill that is hard to master but may be essential for a healthy long-term partnership.

How Important is your relationship to you?

If you are married or your relationship is long-term it probably is important to you. Take some time and breath. Hopefully you have developed some of these skills together as your relationship has matured. When you are in a short-term relationship or dating it is far too easy to have an argument and walk away. Here are some skills to handle an important subject with success in any relationship.

Can you bite your tongue long enough to calm down?

This is where many relationships and marriage are saved or lost. The ironic thing is that in the heat of the moment, we tend to forget how important your relationship is and speak our mind without thinking. Ask yourself, “Would you rather be right or keep your relationship?”

The time to talk about something important is NOT during an argument. Emotions can get in the way of a meaningful resolution that makes everyone happy.

If you find yourself starting into an argument, bite your tongue and ask for a timeout. Agree to talk about it the next day after everyone calms down. It almost impossible to get your needs met and make your relationship stronger through an argument. If you can avoid arguing at all, you are best off.

Are you willing to take the time to approach the subject properly?

If something is important to you, it is essential to bring it up to avoid having it build up inside you and get worse. Given that, approaching the subject sooner than later should help.

They key to bring it up is not blind siding your partner with the subject. So give your partner some warning, tell them the general subject and schedule a time to talk about it.

Start by reassuring your partner that your relationship is important to you and you want to preserve it. Begin with something like this in your own words, “I love you and the success of our relationship is very important to me.”.

Next, give your partner and idea of what you wan to talk about. For example, “I would like to have a discussion about the kids school or finance.” The key is not to drop an important subject on your partner without giving them a chance to think about it first.

You may have to agree that it is going to take more than one session to work out a solution that makes everyone happy. Maybe the first time you talk, you just agree to express your needs without discussion a resolution. People can often change their minds on a subject if they have enough time to get their mind around what you are asking for and hope they can meet your need.

There may be a give and take involved. Maybe try for a period of time to meet someone’s need, then switch for another period to meet the other’s need. Be open minded, try to meet someone’s need for a while and see how it goes. The only constant in life is change.

If someone says they are unable to meet your need, listen to why not and consider if what they have to offer from their perspective is reasonable or not. Give them as much open mindedness as you would like from them.

Practice Non-Violent Communication (NVC)

If you can organize your thoughts to your partner something like this it will go a long way, “I have this need, because it is not being met I feel this way. Can we brainstorm on ways to meet this need that would work for both of us? What is you rneed in this regard?”.

If you approach the subject this way, you can defuse much of the “he said, she said” finger pointing and get to having your needs met. Start by asking yourself what is the underlining unmet need and build from there. Learn more about Non-violent Communication (NVC) here.

What if you’re needs are still unmet after a couple discussions?

In this case you may have a root problem in the relationship. You may have to ask yourself can you live without this need bing met, is this part of a give and take? If you partner is not listening to your needs, is the relationship healthy for you?

The point here is to make the best effort you can on communicating your needs. Wait until emotions calm down and people do not feel threatened or angry. This will give you the best chance of success.

I have kept this discussion short intentionally to focus on the important points. This can be hard because we all get vested in our needs and emotions. If you can apply this to your relationships at home, with friends and even at work. Be well.

Chuck Burr

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