Welcome to Day 18 in the series…
Over the last two days we’ve looked at the fundamental emotional needs we each have and seven key areas of influence to address in order to build strong foundations of mutual respect. Today we will look at how to talk about those deeply held, often emotive issues when you find yourself on opposite sides – when “I’s collide” and we struggle to see eye to eye on an issue.
It’s easy for certain topics to become “no-go” areas in a relationship because talking about it can feel too difficult and emotive. However, if there is something you can’t talk about, it’s a problem already. We must all learn the skills of how to have a courageous conversation and if we can’t do that on our own, to proactively get help. Much can be achieved with a trusted confidante or professional to help get the relationship back on track. Problems will only get worse if they are left to fester.
Rachel and Steve, the couple we spoke about in our recent TEDx talk, had different expectations around roles in the home and how respect was given and perceived. Although they both came from the same cultural heritage, Steve had grown up with a very traditional mindset and was expecting that his wife would be like his mum and serve him like his mum served his dad. Rachel had more “modern” expectations around equality and a shared load. They were both similarly educated and used to earning similar money and in her mind, they were never going to have the kind of relationship Steve’s Mum & Dad did. Deeply held values anchoring deep emotions. No one budging.
This is how many couples can get stuck and spiral downwards, but like Rachel and Steve, getting more information can help to reframe the problem so you can approach tough conversations with more courage and more grace. This allows you to have richer, more meaningful conversations with real empathy for the other person’s perspective, on the way to finding a solution that works for both of you. As Einstein says, “you can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that got you there”. In addition to getting more understanding of assumptions and core values, we also need to learn how to really listen, how to speak without accusation, and how to speak openly and vulnerably – rather than defensively – about things that really matter to us. These are life-skills that we all need but they aren’t really taught anywhere! These are the skills we help you develop in our online course on Habit #3.
Here’s something to think about: Have any “no-go” discussion topics crept into your relationship? If so, why do you think they are too difficult or emotive to talk about?
Tomorrow we will look at how to identify some of these core values and priorities, so they are easier to articulate – to yourself and to your partner. The email will be waiting for you in the morning.