Why You Don’t Have to Have That Talk Just Yet

Imagine this: you’re sitting on the couch, watching television with your partner. Things have been tense recently – maybe you’ve even been actively fighting. But you’re still not sure what to do about it, and communicating your feelings seems impossible.

So naturally your partner turns off the television and says, “We need to talk about _______.” What do you do now?

It’s Okay to Put It Off…

Clear feelings about complicated problems and helpful answers to tough questions don’t always make themselves known immediately. It can take time for you to work things through internally.

If you’re just not ready, don’t feel pressured to figure out how you feel just because your partner wants to talk at that moment. Your partner wants to hear your true feelings, not a guess. Your conversation will be more effective in the long-term if you spend a day or two processing your feelings.

…for Now

The most important part of that last section probably comes in the last sentence – “a day or two.” Yes, you can and should try to work things out in your mind before talking with your partner. However, you can’t avoid the conversation forever.

If your partner has approached you with concerns, you have to respect their feelings and talk about it – even if you’re feeling uneasy. Don’t just say “Not now,” come up with a time and place, then stick to it whether you’re ready or not.

Use the time until that point to explore your feelings, accept your truth, and come up with solutions-based answers for your partner. You may not have things perfectly figured out before your discussion, but that’s okay. Discomfort or anxiety is not a reason to avoid your partner. The longer you wait, the more anxiety will build – both for you and your partner.

Give Your Partner the Time They Need, Too

At some point, you will likely find yourself on the other side of this situation. You want to have an intentional dialogue, but your partner doesn’t know what to say.

If they want more time, give it to them – just as you would want them to do for you. If you allow your partner to think things over before having an intentional dialogue, they will be more likely to give you that time in future conflicts, and your current conversation will probably be far more productive.

How do you do this? Rather than approaching your partner by venting about the situation, or demanding a sit-down conversation, ease into the conversation. Say, “I would like to talk about ____. Is now a good time?” Be respectful and patient if your partner still has to think things over. Remember: answers don’t always come when we want them to.

If you are still having trouble after talking with your partner – or if your partner keeps avoiding the conversation – it may be helpful to contact a relationship therapist who specializes in Imago and intentional dialogue.