Tricky conversations

 Nikki Bray

Nobody likes them, right, and yet we all need to have them if our relationships are going to deepen and grow.

I remember having a limiting belief in my marriage that went something like this, “I don’t want to talk about this because it will be too hard and it will all go wrong. If I just leave it, it will go away”.

How naïve was I? In the early years of our marriage, that belief robbed us of transparency and intimacy. It was false security I was clinging to, and when I learnt to kick that belief to the curb and take on a new belief, our relationship flourished.

Instead, I chose to replace it with a new belief, “this conversation may be tricky, and yet it’s necessary if I want to grow closer to Andy. I have to be willing to get uncomfortable in order to grow through this. How I handle myself and the way I chose to have this conversation will determine the outcome”.

Step 1: Prepare Your Heart

Having had it go wrong numerous times, I learnt that step one was to prepare my heart ahead of time. Before bringing something up I’d ask myself “how much of a deal is this really?” I was naturally good at letting things go and not ‘sweating the small stuff” because my default was to withdraw. My personal challenge was to address issues and express myself. And that’s what confused me. How do I determine if it’s just small stuff? I decided that if it had the potential to fester into a major issue, or if it could get in the way of our relationship, then it definitely needed addressing. That first ‘internal processing’ step placed me in a better position to have a conversation that was more objective than emotional.

Step 2: There’s More Than One Perspective

The second step was also an internal one. Would I be willing to see Andy’s perspective as well as my own? Would I be willing to hear his side, his reflections, his hurts, and not just focus on my own? When I could honestly answer yes then I knew I was ready.

Step 3: Choose An Appropriate Time

Step three was about choosing my time for a tricky conversation. What worked for me was simply asking “is this a good time to have a tricky conversation?” Sometimes he’d say “not right now darling, can we do it tomorrow? But most of the time he’d say ‘sure, what’s up?”

Step 4: Your Words Matter – Be Kind

And then above all, step four was about seeking to be kind in the words I used and how I expressed them. One of my favourite all-time learnings has to be the statement, “when faced with the choice of being kind or being right, always choose kind”. 2020 has seen our Prime Minister use the statement “be kind” so much that it almost got annoying, but in marriage, it’s one of the best to remember. You can’t be too kind in marriage.

If you’re needing a new belief around having a tricky conversation maybe try this one,

“The words we say and how we say them will ultimately determine the outcome. If I choose my words wisely then those chats that once felt uncomfortable will soon become comfortable, and this will become an opportunity for growth”.