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Difficult Conversations All Couples Should Have Before Commitment

Many couples make future plans together for cohabitation, marriage or family building without ever having difficult conversations that ensure they are on the same page. Before a wedding or a long-term commitment such as buying a house as a couple or even having a baby, couples make decisions based on emotional connection and assumption. These assumptions are often what leads to relationship breakdowns or breakdowns of marriages. The effects of not having difficult conversations in relationships far outweigh the courage needed to have the conversation in the first place. So much could be avoided to ensure a happy and healthy relationship, marriage or environment for family building is maintained. Here are a few conversations that should be explored before taking big, relational milestones that lead to commitment 1. Finances This topic is one of the biggest reasons why couples have major relationship issues. It’s important to be honest and open about your financial situation either with your personal finances, business finances or other. When couples make big commitments together they become financially linked and this can affect opportunities for credit either positively or negatively. Financial health within a relationship is a contributing factor to relationship health. Also, its not just where you’re at with your own finances but its how you spend money, your views on lifestyle and allocation of monetary resources. Maybe one of you values the security of owning a home whereby the other one isn’t too bothered and would prefer expensive trips to the maldives instead. I’ve seen couples where one values a robust savings account and the other values living life in the moment and having experiences often that make for a fulfilling life each day - how you spend and view money is important as it mutually creates a lifestyle or can create cracks in connection that cause resistance and resent. 2. Children and Parenting Styles When a relationship becomes more serious, important topics around watts for the future must be discussed. That includes talks around family building, dynamics and wants to have children (or lack there of wanting) This conversation can become a non-negotaible for some, a painful topic for others and can also encourage some people who are ‘on the fence’ to make a decision to ensure they are invested and investing in the right relationship for them. Share yours and find out what your partners wants and expectations are around children and building a family. Do you both want children or does one of you not see yourself as a parent in the future? If you want children, what does the family dynamic look like in the home when the children are small - what are the role expectations or are there none? Think about the balance, parenting styles and the size of a family that one or both of you want to build. Talk about spirituality / religiosity, values, principles in which you parent and raise a family by and the culture you want to create in your family home. 3. Sex, Touch & Emotional Intimacy This is a major issue if not discussed for couples and can lead to relationship breakdowns. Mismanaged expectations and changes in relational dynamics on a sexual and emotional level that go unexplored conversationally can lead to resistance, resent and contempt which cause relational conflict. The wonderful Esther Perel talks about how we can live without touch as humans but not touch and gentle intimacy. Many couples in the relationship therapy room want to bring issues such as frequency of sex, type of sex, exploration and emotional needs being left unsatisfied or unmet. If you can discuss things such as your libido, needs for emotional connection and the kind of intimate life you would like to lead together would help you both stay connected in your relationship. This conversation should be revisited regularly to maintain connection and should certainly be explored when a family has been built as the dynamics in the home and in the body change as well as how couples see each other on an emotional and sexually erotic level when they become parents. 4. Life goals, ambitions and priorities Being committed means having long-term plans with another person, so it is very important to find out the priorities as early as possible. Is summer vacation something that should never be negotiated? Or would you rather save for a new apartment/house? Talk to your partner and discover the "golden" environment in which you will both feel comfortable. You should have the opportunity to achieve your goals because a committed relationship should be a springboard for great achievements, but each of you should choose an appropriate time in order not to interfere with each other in the realisation of your dreams and hopes. 5. Your communication styles in your relationship If you've been together for some time, you've probably already established fluid communication but understanding how you both give and receive love can help to build on those foundations. I highly recommend the 5 love languages to ensure you understand how you are within your relationship, what makes you feel love and what your partner needs to feel loved. By understanding this you will understand each other better and the relationship environment you are building for each other as a couple. It is also very important to discuss ways in which you deal and communicate in conflict so you can hear and undnerstand each other in heated times which can cause psychological distress. It makes sense that when coming into conflict with the person you love the most it will hurt the most and thats why couples really feel it when they fight. Fighting in relationships is the furthest place from love and often the polarised place to what people actually want in their relationship. Learn your triggers, how you cope when triggered, learn what you need from your partner to work through and soothe through the pain of fighting and conflict in relationships and ensure to have the same conversation with them to understand conflict with you from their point of view. Not every conversation with your partner will be easy, but if you want to have a healthy relationship, it’s worth putting the effort in when it comes to communication. It is useless to just "blindly copy" – you need to understand and emotionally feel what will make your relationship stronger and more harmonious. Only when this behaviour becomes natural to you, it begins to bear fruit of reconnecting with your partner each time a hurdle in the relationship presents itself. If you wish to work through any of the above or struggle to start difficult conversations or hold space for your partner if they would like to have a difficult conversation in your relationship, I can help you. Holding space for each other needs to be done lovingly and safely and sometimes when couples are worried about the outcome of a tricky conversation they are anxious, on guard and their brain isn’t fully online to hear and understand what their partner is saying. To create the relationship you desire and having a loving connection in your couple, I’d love to help you both hold space for these difficult conversations. Get in touch for sessions online or in person. Much Love, Sarah Louise x


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