There’s no shortage of relationship experts talking about how communication is one of the strongest foundations of a relationship.
Yes, we know that. And yes, we try. Oh god, how we try.
And yet, there are still some topics that are just crazy hard to talk about, even with the people closest to our hearts!
But there’s no getting around it – if we want our relationship to last for the long-term, we’ve got to get over those fears and be brave enough to discuss them.
Here are 10 things that, if you can talk about them with your partner, can make your connection deeper and your relationship stronger:
1) Your relationship definition
Let’s start with the basics: what does your relationship mean to you?
This is a conversation that many couples find difficult to talk about.
For one, it’s a little confrontational. There won’t be any sidestepping or hinting around here.
And two, there’s the fear of finding out just how different your definitions are. You might already be planning your wedding in your head, while your partner is merely in it for fun.
I can understand why so many people cringe at the idea of having this talk, also known as THE talk.
Still, it’s hard to imagine your relationship going anywhere, much less last the distance, if you’re not even on the same page.
Next up are boundaries. It’s kinda common sense to let your partner know your limits, but you’d be amazed by how so many of us decide to keep quiet about them.
Again, this is understandable – we don’t want to risk coming off as high-maintenance or too-rigid people.
We want things to go smoothly, our partners to be happy, so we keep mum even when we’re no longer comfortable with the situation.
That’s a move that might come back and bite you in the ass though. Because in the long term, being inconsistent about what you will and won’t accept can only lead to resentment.
Best to be upfront about your boundaries from the get-go. Clarity is a wonderful thing.
As this Tony Gaskins quote always reminds me: “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”
And that holds true even when you’ve been together for a long time.
3) Sexual intimacy
Do you cringe at the thought of talking about intimacy with your partner? Would you like to receive pleasure a certain way but you just can’t bring yourself to tell them?
You’re not alone.
Even in this modern age, sex still seems like a taboo topic, even with our own partners. It’s easy to see why – no one wants to hear that their partner isn’t exactly 100% satisfied in the bedroom, right?
And no one wants to be the one to say it either!
So, there’s a lot of fear around sex talk.
But you know what? It’s absolutely essential if you want your relationship to last.
Couples who can handle this conversation are more likely to enjoy a healthier sex life and a deeper connection. Which explains why they last longer!
Is there anything more difficult and icky to talk about than sex?
No one likes talking about money. And yet, it’s an aspect of life that causes stress, more so if there’s another person in the picture.
In fact, did you know that money is the number one cause of stress in relationships?
Think about it: if you’re a saver but your partner is a spender, how do you broach the topic to them? How do you ask them to be more mindful in a way that won’t offend them?
No doubt, financial compatibility is a big deal.
And that’s not all. Income disparity is another issue, which becomes even more of an issue if you’ve got gender expectations on top of it.
So, you see, there’s so much to consider when it comes to financial matters and relationships.
But it’s all worth the awkwardness and the stress of talking about it, because then you eventually arrive at a compromise that suits you both.
And that is going to save your relationship from a lot of conflict down the road.
5) Equal effort
Speaking of disparity, another must-talk-about topic for couples is workload distribution.
I don’t mean to make it sound like being in a relationship is like having a job, but let’s be honest – relationships take work, don’t they?
Imagine coming home to a house with a sink full of dirty dishes.
Or if you aren’t married or cohabiting yet, imagine yourself always being the one to reach out and plan a date.
One-sided relationships are no fun. I’ve been in one, and all I’d say is – never again.
Strong relationships have a lovely give-and-take nature, where both partners are committed to the health of the relationship.
And if it’s starting to look like that balance is getting lopsided, they speak up about it. They don’t wait until the imbalance has gone on too long and a lot of resentment has already built up.
As you can see, long-lasting relationships aren’t a result of happenstance or luck. It’s the result of hard work, mindfulness, and the willingness to talk about the important stuff.
6) Deeply held beliefs
Can couples with different values and beliefs stay together?
According to Dr. Sarah Schewitz at Couples Learn, yes.
But how can you make it work if you never talk about it?
I know how hard it is to be with someone who’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from you, whether politically, spiritually, or any other life aspect.
My husband and I, for instance, have different political views. And while it might be an unthinkable situation for some, it’s still workable for us because we’ve had meaningful conversations about these beliefs of ours and came to an agreement to stay respectful.
Your childhood. Your past relationships or one-night stands. Key experiences that made you who you are today.
You might not want to unearth all of that with your partner, and you certainly don’t have to.
But – it could work in your favor, you know. Because sharing your history is a way to help your partner understand you.
When I first talked to my then-boyfriend-now-husband about my past, it wasn’t easy. I worried about getting judged and about falling short of his expectations.
But you know what? It actually brought us closer. It even inspired him to share his history as well.
And after all that, we felt safe with each other. More deeply connected than we were with any of our previous partners. I guess that’s when we knew we’d be together for life!
8) Fears and insecurities
Like our history, it’s never easy to open up about the deepest parts of us. About the things that scare us or make us feel like we aren’t enough.
As I mentioned earlier, feeling safe with your partner is an indication that you have a great chance of lasting for the long term.
So if you’re able to be vulnerable with each other, that’s a very good sign. Because, according to Psych Central, vulnerability has so many benefits for relationships:
- It creates a deeper bond
- It encourages self-reflection and belonging
- It reduces conflict
Plus, for me, vulnerability has led me to be a more authentic person. And that, in turn, helps me to be a better partner.
9) Unmet needs
Similarly, don’t be afraid to talk about what you need, whether it’s physical or emotional.
If you’re feeling neglected because your partner never seems to have time for you, speak up about it.
If you’d love more affection, more support, more foot massages – whatever you need to feel loved – let them know.
Truth is, sometimes, our partners don’t mean to hurt or neglect us. Sometimes, they just don’t know. We have to remember that they aren’t mind-readers.
Just like with boundaries, it’s up to us to be more forthcoming with our specific needs.
And if they listen to what you express and make the necessary changes, then you’ve likely got a keeper!
Finally, communicate about communication.
Yes, you read that right.
Couples who talk about the way they communicate have a better chance of going the distance.
You see, we’re not cardboard cutouts. We’re human beings with (sometimes wildly) different communication styles.
So, even if we think we’re communicating as best as we can, misunderstandings still occur.
For instance, in the early days of our relationship, my husband and I had a lot of talking to do about the way we communicate.
He’s a quiet person, almost passive. Meanwhile, I’m very open and assertive. With a loud voice to boot.
I’d say something to him in a direct way, so direct that he’d get his back up. He’d then get defensive and from that one simple statement, the conversation would spiral into an argument.
Eventually, we sat down and threshed out our two differing styles so we would be less prone to misinterpreting each other.
We laid down some ground rules for how we would argue, and while that sounds funny on paper, it actually has helped us keep arguments from getting out of control.
Looking at this list, I’d say that relationships aren’t for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot of courage to set your inhibitions aside and talk about these difficult topics with your partner.
But if you can do it, then your relationship will be a lot stronger and healthier. It means you’re building something real – where you can both be yourselves, completely and honestly.