I received a DM the other week that was asking about how to bring up difficult and sensitive topics in relationships. The topic in particular was about how this girl’s boyfriend would go a couple weeks or more without having sex or even bringing it up. She was worried about bringing it up to him even though she wasn’t happy with how things were going.
Here are my thoughts.
Relationships are not easy. And to add to that, marriage doesn’t get any easier! So when you are with someone it’s so important that you’re able to communicate openly. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Because you know what’s more uncomfortable? Holding it in until it becomes a real problem. A problem that is really hard to fix because it’s been building up for so long. Or, you wait to say something and then when you finally do, you realize you’re with someone who can’t handle an adult conversation because they are conflict avoidant or have anger issues.
None of these situations are ideal! So instead, it’s so important to have those difficult conversations even when it’s uncomfortable. The longer you’re with someone and do life with them, the more difficult things you will experience together, and you need to be equipped to have those honest, and hard conversations. Open communication is one of the keys to a healthy and successful relationship.
When you’re actually bringing up an issue I think it’s important to not place blame on the other person or jump to conclusions. For example, when I’ve brought up topics with Stephen before I’ll say something like–“Something has been on my mind recently that I just want to talk about before it becomes a bigger deal than it needs to be. Lately, I’ve been feeling that we aren’t on the same page with XYZ, etc etc” Vs. Starting off saying “So for the past 4 months you’ve been doing XYZ and that really bothers me” or “You’re making me feel (insert the blank).” By prefacing it in a way that you’re like–hey, I’m bringing this up because I care about our relationship, and THIS (instead of YOU) has been making me feel blah blah blah. It sets a more collaborative tone for the conversation vs. accusatory.
Something else Stephen and I will also do is periodically ask–is there anything you feel like I could do better or we could be doing better as a couple? Again, if you are creating a relationship where you have open communication and dialogue, checking in and seeing how the other person is feeling doesn’t come across as accusatory. It’s just something that is a part of your relationship so you can make it healthier and stronger.
Stephen and I have had a similar conversation about sex before, and most couples do. It’s pretty rare that couples have the same libido. I mean, look. No relationship is perfect. But what matters is that you care enough about the other person and your relationship that you’re willing to bring up the hard stuff. And if you’re with the right person, they should care enough about what you’re saying to want to fix it. And to know that you’re coming to them because you want the relationship to be as strong as it can be and not for any other reason than that.
I think what is helpful, whether it’s sex or any other topic, is to find a compromise. Is there a middle ground that you can meet at? So for example. Maybe one person in the relationship wants sex everyday, and the other person is okay with once a week. Try to middle in the middle at 2-3 days a week. Or another option, again with any issue in a relationship, is to see a couple’s counselor. And by seeing a counselor doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with your relationship! If you think about it, you don’t just see the doctor or dentist when something is wrong, you see them on a regular basis for maintenance. Same with seeing a couple’s counselor. So whether you’re going to address a specific issue or more for “maintenance” don’t feel any shame about that.
Again, I know some conversations are not easy to have. But that’s part of being an adult and being in a relationship. In order to grow and strengthen your relationship, you sometimes have to have those hard talks! Any other thoughts?? xxC