Sometimes, one of the most difficult conversations to have is the one about why conversations are so difficult. If you have difficulty talking about negative issues with your spouse you’ve probably found that keeping quiet doesn’t have great payoff. What do you do?
1. Have an honest conversation with yourself about why you don’t put negative stuff on the table. What’s your DNA in regard to talking about tough issues? What past experiences might contribute to your trepidation? Do you really want to protect your spouse or do you want to protect yourself from your spouses reaction? Remember, be honest.
2. Now it’s time to talk together. You’re stepping out. You’re going to tell the truth in love. Maybe you’ve got to tell your husband that you feel like he withdraws and stays angry at you when you bring up something that’s wrong. Perhaps, you need to let your wife know that you feel that she gets despondent when you have a complaint. Don’t get upset if your husband or wife doesn’t respond favorably. Don’t even be surprised. That’s why you are having this conversation with them in the first place. Focus on the issue, don’t attack your spouse even if you feel attacked. We said this is hard. It is!
3. If the conversation escalates or your spouse withdraws, reassure them that you are not intending to attack them and then say, “I’m sorry.” Let’s talk about this later.” Then lovingly walk away. Still treat your spouse with love and respect. Don’t get bitter and ugly or standoffish. That’s the kind of behavior you want to stop.
4. Later, tell him that you respect him. Reassure her that you love her. Then softly approach the topic again, focusing on this issue.
Be patient. Be forgiving. Confess your own faults and ask for forgiveness. Remember that the goal of the conversation is to make your communication more holy. Don’t blow it with your own “unwholesome” talk (Eph. 4:29).
Try this for the next twenty years before you think of giving up. And if you still aren’t getting anywhere, let us know. We’ll help.