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How to Talk to Your Partner About Relationship Problems


Communication is key to any healthy relationship, but having difficult conversations can be one of the hardest parts of being in a partnership. Bringing up issues or problems you’re having in your relationship takes courage and vulnerability.

However, avoiding these types of discussions often leads to bigger problems down the road. In this post, I’ll share some tips for how to talk to your partner about relationship problems in a constructive way.

Why Communication is So Important

The number one reason relationships succeed or fail lies in how well partners communicate with each other. When issues or problems are ignored or swept under the rug, resentment can quickly build up over time. On the other hand, being able to talk openly and honestly with your partner about what’s working and what needs improvement gives you the best chance of strengthening your bond.

Several studies have shown that couples who are able to discuss problems respectfully are happier and more satisfied in their relationships. They also report feeling more emotionally connected to their partner. Good communication shows your partner you care about their feelings and the well-being of the relationship. It allows both people to be heard and to compromise.

Prepare Yourself Emotionally First

Before bringing up a difficult subject with your partner, it’s important to prepare yourself emotionally. Make sure to choose a time when neither of you are feeling stressed, rushed or overly emotional from other issues in your lives. Bringing up problems during a fight or argument usually does more harm than good.

Take some time alone first to collect your thoughts and figure out specifically what is bothering you and why. Write down bullet points of the main issues you want to address so you stay focused on the topic. Remember, the goal is to have a productive discussion to find solutions, not to attack or blame your partner.

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It also helps to remember that no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. Having empathy and understanding for your partner’s perspective will go a long way in keeping the conversation constructive. You want them to feel heard and understood, not judged.

Choose Your Timing Wisely

In addition to your own emotional state, pay attention to your partner’s schedule and availability for a sensitive conversation. Don’t bring up serious relationship issues right before they have to leave for work or if they seem stressed from their day already.

Weekends when you have more uninterrupted time together are usually better for discussing problems. You want your partner to be present and focused on what you have to say without distractions or time constraints. A relaxing evening at home after the kids are in bed works well for many couples.

Starting the conversation by telling your partner you want to discuss something important in a respectful way can also help set the right tone. Remind them you’re bringing it up because you care about improving your relationship, not to place blame. This frames the discussion positively from the beginning.

Use “I Feel” Statements

When you do sit down to talk, avoid accusations and instead focus on openly sharing your own feelings using “I feel” statements. For example, say “I feel upset when you forget our plans without letting me know” instead of “You always forget about our plans and it makes me so mad.”

Owning your emotions as your own prevents it from sounding like an attack on your partner. It also gives them useful feedback about how their actions are affecting you emotionally, which is the root of any relationship problem.

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Be specific about behaviors or situations that are causing issues rather than vague generalizations. Give recent examples if you can. This important for your partner to really understand your perspective and how to avoid repeating those behaviors.

Actively Listen

Just as important as expressing your feelings is making sure to listen actively to your partner’s perspective as well. Practice reflective listening by restating what they said in your own words to confirm you understand. Refrain from interrupting and make eye contact to show you’re engaged in what they’re sharing.

Listening without being defensive or trying to come up with a counter-argument is key. The goal in this part of the discussion is understanding, not debating who is right or wrong. Once you’ve both had a chance to be heard without judgment, then you can work on finding agreeable solutions together.

Share Responsibility

A relationship problem is usually not entirely one person’s fault. We all contribute to issues at times. As such, avoid blaming language and instead own your part of what’s not working. Phrases like “When I get angry, I also say hurtful things” or “I should have communicated my needs better” help share responsibility fairly.

Taking accountability for your own shortcomings keeps the conversation balanced and prevents it from becoming one-sided. This paves the way for mutually agreed upon changes instead of demands being placed on just one partner. Finding middle ground shows you’re both invested in compromising.

Suggest Solutions, Not Ultimatums

Finally, once the issues have been properly discussed, focus the conversation on constructive solutions rather than sweeping statements or accusations. Phrases like “We need to…” imply teamwork versus finger-pointing. Some suggestions could be:

  • “What do you think would help if I communicated my feelings in a calmer way next time?”
  • “Should we schedule a weekly check-in to make sure we’re both feeling heard?”
  • “Could we agree to leave our phones in another room during dinner?”
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Coming to an agreement together on tangible steps to try builds unity versus discord. Avoid broad demands and ultimatums that don’t allow for discussion or input from your partner. The goal is mutual understanding and compromise – not one person dictating changes.

Keep Communication Open Going Forward

Relationship problems don’t end after one discussion. Commit to ongoing check-ins as issues may come up again down the road. Express that you want to keep the lines of respectful dialogue open regularly. Check in with each other on how any agreed upon changes are going.

Thank your partner for being willing to have a vulnerable conversation. Let them know you appreciate their perspective as well. Express commitment to continuing to work as a team. Ending on a positive, optimistic note focused on improving together fosters more open communication long term.

With practice and effort, learning to have difficult yet constructive conversations will only strengthen the bonds of intimacy, trust and understanding within your relationship over time. Effective communication is key to resolving problems respectfully before resentment builds. Keep the goals of mutual understanding, shared responsibility and teamwork at the forefront each time issues arise.


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