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When to Talk and Not Talk about Relationship Problems
Posted On February 5, 2018
Some people believe that we should always talk about relationship problems and others think that we should never talk about relationship problems. The truth is somewhere in between.
Obviously, communication is an important aspect of any relationship. But, it is not communication per se that builds relationships. Rather it is both the way the we talk about things and what we talk about. Talk in the wrong way or about the wrong thing and you may undermine your relationship. Talk about your relationship in the right way and you can open up new possibilities for you and your spouse that never would have occurred if you both had just kept quiet.
DON’T talk about your relationship if your spouse doesn’t want to continue it
Many of the clients that I work with have done much damage to their relationships by repeatedly talking about their relationship. This is because talking about problems doesn’t actually come until the sixth step in how to save your marriage. Being too eager to talk about problems, before you and your spouse even agree on what the problem is, will just bring conflict. Then, the conversation will deteriorate in arguments and create even more distance in your relationship.
Rule #1: Never talk about a problem when your spouse wants a different outcome than you do.
This rule is a good guide to when to get marriage counseling. If you want to make your relationship better, but your spouse does not, then counseling (which promotes communication), will make your relationship worse rather than better. In such cases, coaching (which focuses on re-attracting your spouse) will be more effective.
DON’T talk about relationship problems if your spouse does not want what you do
Imagine that you would like to have more sex with your spouse. Before deciding whether to talk about this with your spouse, you must first ask yourself if your spouse would like to have more sex with you. If you don’t think so, then what do you think will happen if you try to talk to your spouse about having more sex? Your spouse will reject you and give you reasons why he or she does want to have more sex with you. Then end result? You will have even less sex.
DO talk about relationship problems if your spouse also wants what you do
On the other hand, if you would like to have more sex with your spouse, AND you think your spouse would also like to have more sex with you, then this is a great topic of discussion. Your spouse will be cooperative and motivated to come up with ways that you two can have more and better sex.
You: I was thinking that we don’t have sex as much as we used to. I miss that.
Spouse: Yeah, me too.
You: Let’s talk about how we could have even more and better sex because I sure want to have more sex with you.
Spouse: Yeah, me too.
Here you see one spouse leading and the other following, which is fine. Often one spouse is more communicative than the other. But, as long as you have agreement, it doesn’t matter if a lot is said. You can then follow up with brainstorming–coming up with some actions that will result in the both of you getting more of what you want.
Let’s suppose that your spouse is overspending. Do you think this would be a good thing to talk to your spouse about? The answer is going to be “no,” unless you believe that your spouse also thinks he or she is overspending. Most likely that won’t be the case. So, if you talk about overspending, your spouse will become defensive and not only will the overspending not be resolved, your relationship will also become worse as well.
You: Honey, I want to talk with you about how you sometimes overspend a little.
Spouse: I only buy what is necessary. You are the one who buys things we don’t need.
You: Well, what about those new shoes you bought when you already have 10 pair?
Spouse: So, you think I’m not smart enough to know how many shoes I have or if I need more? What about that new lawn mower attachment you bought? You have managed to mow the last 10 years without it. Why do you need to buy that now?
You may end up with some temporary change with such an argument, but it won’t last. However, the damage it does to your relationship will last because your partner will be resentful while making temporary change. Then, you will become resentful when things once again go back to the way they were. Argument creates temporary change, but lasting damage.
“So, what do I do when I want things to change, but my spouse doesn’t?”
Since talking is actually damaging in such a situation, you must do something other than talk about it. This leads to rule number two:
Rule #2: There is ALWAYS something that can be done about a problem other than talking about it.
The mistake many people make in this situation is to say and do nothing. This reduces conflict, but will lead to your becoming more resentful or disappointed with your relationship. The solution is to take action without talking about it with your spouse first.
Building your relationship when your spouse wants to end your relationship
This is something I help clients with all the time. If you look at my re-connections coaching package description, you will see that this package is NOT for couples. With this package I help people to get their spouses to relax and once again enjoy talking with them. My clients work on connecting and re-attracting. This does more to build their relationship than talking or convincing ever could.
Having more sex with your spouse when he or she doesn’t want to
In the same way, there are many things that you can do to create a deeper connection with your spouse and to make your spouse more attracted to you. By focusing on doing these things rather than trying to convince your spouse to have more sex with you, you will end up with not only a more sexual relationship, but a more emotionally satisfying one as well.
Stopping your spouse’s overspending without talking to your spouse about it
Talking never actually resolves financial problems. What resolves financial problems are creating budgets, changing credit card to debit cards, creating allowances, and a separate expense account for you and your spouse. This allows your spouse to spend freely without answering to you. It also protects the finances by limiting how much your spouse is able to spend. While there may be some initial resistance to this change, it will soon result in an improved relationship. It will be fair because you will receive the exact same amount to spend as your spouse.
Do you have a problem with your relationship that it’s not helping to talk about?
If so, then it is time to do two things: 1) figure out what you and your spouse do agree needs to be changed, and 2) figure out what you can do about things that your spouse does not agree needs to be changed. I wrote my book, What to Do When He Won’t Change, to help women who feel hopeless to improve their relationships because they only get conflict or distance when they try to talk to their husbands about relationship problems. I wrote my book, Connecting though “Yes!” to help people find common ground for relationship improvement, no matter what their situation–even if their spouse is having an affair or wants to end their relationship.
Always have a backup plan
Whatever you decide to do, always have a backup plan. This will help you to not become discouraged if your first plan doesn’t work out. It also will help you not to be too anxious about implementing your ideas. If you just can’t imagine being satisfied in your marriage for the rest of your life, it is not time to end it. It is time to learn more effective ways to improve it. You can always have a backup plan of ending it, if you wish. But, do you really want to end it before you do everything possible to make it better? You are welcome to get a consultation session with me for some ideas on how to improve your relationship.