Have the courage to speak up and improve your relationship!

Closeup microphone in conference room with blur person.

Recently, I was reading an article by Kasey Ferris in the HuffPost where she was talking about the lessons she’d learned from her divorce.

This quote really struck me, “Throughout years of my marriage I hesitated to speak my truth. While my intentions were honorable -- I wanted to keep the peace, I didn't want to introduce conflict, I was trying so hard to be a ‘good wife’.... By hiding my truth, trying to ignore hurt feelings, ‘sucking it up,’ I was doing myself and my ex-husband a great disservice.”

Having the courage to be authentic with those we love can feel scary.

If we dare to bring up topics that are upsetting, we run the risk of the other person’s response. She might get mad at us. He might not like us anymore. Maybe she’ll yell. Maybe he’ll leave.

It can feel a whole lot safer to just let things ride and hope that change will occur on its own. Of course, that’s not likely--especially if the other person has no clue there is even a problem. And, as illustrated above, it can drive a big wedge between you and your partner making it harder and harder to reconnect.

While your knees may shake, you can prepare to face a difficult conversation with more courage. Here’s how:

  • Take the time to think through and write out what it is you want to say;
  • Narrow down your thoughts to the one or two issues that would have the biggest positive impact if you were able to resolve them;
  • Reword what you want to say in the form of a request (for example, would you be willing to talk to with me about household chores?);
  • Anticipate the response and plan for it (for example, if you expect the person to say “not now” or “I’m too busy”, you can plan a reply like, “I get that. How about tomorrow at noon?”);
  • Pick a time and location to have the conversation that would lead to the best chance for success (free from interruption, everyone well fed, etc.);
  • Be sure to stick to your point and focus on solutions--under NO circumstances bring up the past or cast blame (that’s a guaranteed way to get a bad outcome);
  • Expect resistance (s/he will likely feel defensive) and when it comes up listen and acknowledge your partner’s feelings BEFORE responding;
  • Listen for understanding and as soon as you hear the tiniest drop;
  • Start working on solutions together--highlight that you want to work as a team because your relationship is really important to you.

If you’ve been working hard to stay quiet in order to preserve your relationship, that might not be the best strategy. Speaking up can help you to get your needs met and hear what your partner wants too. There is no guarantee it will go perfectly, but without honesty there can be no improvement and no chance for true intimacy.

Bobbie L. Dillon, M.S., empowers people to create Peace-Full Relationships™--harmonious relationships where both people’s needs are met--as a Communication & Conflict Management Coach and Teacher, and Relationship Mediator™. Check out more resources and on-line and in-person classes at BobbieDillon.com. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, & LinkedIn.