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The Secret To Having Tough Conversations With Your Partner

couple-having-conversation-in-the-living-roomIf you have something important to share with your partner, you don’t want to try to unload your thoughts when he is busy, stressed out, or otherwise distracted. How will you know when the timing is right? Use these tips to have a successful yet difficult conversation with your partner.

Ask. Try, “Is now a good time for a short conversation? There’s something I’m having a hard time with that I need to share with you.” These simple words are one way to open the subject. If “now” isn’t a good time, ask him to let you know when he’s available.

Start from the heart. Before you get to the heart of the matter, remember to frame your thoughts first with expressions of love and appreciation. Be willing to be vulnerable and talk with the “I” pronoun warmly, without being accusatory. Try to keep the conversation short, no more than thirty minutes (ten minutes is ideal for most men). If you do need more time, take a break and then come back.

Pick your place. By having important conversations while taking a walk or a long drive, instead of having a serious sit-down, knee-to-knee encounter, you are not creating the stressful environment of “we are now working on the relationship.” Wherever and whenever you decide to have your heart-to-heart talk, remember you are a team seeking to solve an issue as a win/win for the relationship. Commit to doing with it with love, respect and kindness.

Listen up. Help your partner feel understood by learning a simple and easy five-step technique known as the Imago Dialogue.

  • Step one: Listen without interrupting.
  • Step two: Act as a mirror. When your partner stops talking, repeat back to him what you heard as accurately as possible. Ask, “Did I get that?” and “Is there more?”
  • Step three: Summarize, especially if he added “more.” Then ask again, “Did I get it all?”
  • Step four: Validate. “What you said makes sense to me.” This statement doesn’t mean you agree with him; it simply lets him know you understand.
  • Step five: Empathize. Let him know that you can imagine how he might be feeling, such as hurt, scared, angry, disappointed, and so on.

By listening in this careful, structured way, your partner will feel seen, heard and understood.

Adapted from Arielle’s new book Turn Your Mate into Your Soulmate, Harper One. Be on the lookout, the book is being released this December. To get more of her great advice, visit




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