Hard talks, ever had one? Ever had one face to face with your spouse? Ever had a hard talk face to
face with your spouse after finding out one of you is resentful ( that’ll be mine ) and the reason you’re
resentful is because of the one you love’s actions that boxed you into a corner? Hard talks are
extremely difficult, uncomfortable, but at the same time they can set you free. There is however, one
key element, don’t take your spouse’s feelings about the issue personal, like it’s an attack on you and
you have to go to war, conquer and prove your innocence. The way your spouse feels is based on their
perception of what has happened and that perception is reality (that goes for you too jack!). In what
dimension of the space time continuum could your actions towards another person hurt, frustrate,
and/or offend them and not take them telling you as a personal attack? I am here to tell you it’s more
than possible because I have done that very thing and I have lived to tell about it. Obviously it’s not
like waving the ole’ magic wand and suddenly you don’t take anyone’s words personally. That being
said there is in my opinion a difference in taking things to heart and taking things personal.
Your spouse should be able to trust you enough to be honest with you, honest enough to off load the
hurtful things that have transpired (respectfully of course) whether you’re completely guilty or it was
a miscommunication. A side note here is it really doesn’t matter what you say it’s what the listener
actually hears, that my friends was a game changer for me! You say yadda yadda yadda and see her
eyebrows squint her nose raise and her cheeks begin to change, that’s several key indicators that you
most likely have been… Misunderstood! When you see the face change begin the most appropriate
thing to do is STOP and ask, ok, what did you hear me say? This is a long side note however, it is a
crucial step in your communication game. 9.5 times out of 9 you meant what you said BUT you didn’t
say what you mean, especially true when tempers are reaching a boiling point.
Back to the point of this experience, when my wife sat across from me and told me she didn’t think I
wanted to be with her and my family because I was constantly away from home working on other
projects, it hurt me to understand that my actions made her feel unwanted however, I had to fight the
urge that she was attacking me personally and lay aside my desire to get off the hot seat and simply
listen. Now I could have taken that as a personal attack against me at which time I could begin
checking boxes to justify my actions and explain to my wife what I was actually doing and why she
didn’t actually feel that way. This of course begins a cycle of frustration and resentment that leads to
arguing and eventually you aren’t talking to each other at all, she is crying and you feel like a dolt. You
must take to heart how your actions affect your loved ones learning the skill to refrain from seeing
these feelings as a personal attack and understand it’s not your business to tell her how to feel is
jackpot. Let the hard things be said, then move on to how we can fix this.
Thankfully, Jeanne and I had been in coaching a while at that point and had been exercised through
the process of not taking things personal, trust me though it takes constant maintenance of one’s self
in order to keep this skill alive and well, trust you me we had plenty of opportunities to practice.
It’s interesting that in the beginning of my marriage counseling that the idea of having hard talks
seemed to carry a negative connotation. However having the benefit of time past and experience even
though the talks are hard they aren’t negative. There are some very important pieces to the puzzle
when it comes to a productive hard talk. I know before our counseling began I would just bury my anger
and frustrations and they would erupt at the wrong time and place. First some eruption then regret and
then a bit of joking finished by a drop or two of anger and the cycle starts over again. There never
seemed to be that final breath of fresh air when it was like ahhh that was a load off my chest and it was
a discussion with a common goal. Just because a talk is hard Does Not mean it’s bad.
What impressed me was our ability to discuss very difficult subjects regarding painful experiments and
circumstances with a goal or two in mind. Don’t take it personal, allow the other person to say how they
feel and be free to express that no holds barred while making sure not to tell her how she should feel or
try and fix her. Also do t justify what you did to be right you may though explain your intentions and
what you really meant to say or do and the outcome you had hoped for.
Next you must become a soft place to land for your wife, if she is opening up listen to every word she
has to say and do not make her pay for her feelings. In turn it’s time you start to give her your side of the
hustle and share your feelings good and bad. She will be a soft place for you to land and you’ll build the
right level of trust so that she won’t use the openness against you.
Talking about hard things has a strange way of bringing you closer together. You begin to learn more
deeply about one another. It has an effect on other facets of your relationship as well.
The goal of hard talks is not to determine who’s right or wrong it’s to come to a resolution or common
place you both can build on. It’s a place to build bridges where you disagree or repair old wounds and
resentments where damage has been done. It takes practice but, I assure you that as a man who has
walked through this journey it pays mega dividends for healing the past and building your future.
Let’s change the game and look at hard talks or conflict as an opportunity to grow in our relationship
and strengthen our bond with one another.
What I’m speaking about isn’t something that just magically developed. This is a place that my wife and I
developed over time. It’s a list of agreements that we made and it evolved over time so we made a
continuous improvements on. Nothing about it was easy but it has become VERY rewarding. This is an
area where you can lead and make this a soft place for your wife. Give each other room to fail miserably
and allow for multiple chances to explain what you meant. Remember these are called hard talks NOT
impossible. Now as we round out this particular subject for now, keep yourself in check all talks can’t be
hard ones. Know yourself and your wife and make time for FUN!!! Fun talks and fun activities that will fill
in these early gaps that may need some relief from time to time. We would love to know what this
episode, or blog taught you, email us your comments firstname.lastname@example.org