Speak Up – 3 Steps to Having that Important Relationship Conversation

We have all heard that relationships require good communication, honest and open sharing about what truly matters.  However, most of us can easily fall into a rut in which we attempt to talk about the elephant in the room but our partner stops us in our tracks.  For many of us it seems easier to just let it go than to keep harping on a difficult issue.  What would you do in each of the scenarios below?

You love your man but lately he has been spending more and more time alone in his room with his computer.  “What is he doing?” you wonder.  “Is he watching sexual videos?  Could he be flirting with his ex on Facebook?  Is he checking out singles ads?  Or is he just avoiding being intimate with me?”  Your inner dialogue might lead to thoughts like:  “Has he lost interest in me?  Am I too fat, too old, losing my sex appeal? Is he having an affair?  Will he leave me????  Your mind is whirling with insecurity, doubt, anger, frustration and you are becoming a jumble of nerves.

Your woman came home from another afternoon of shopping.  She tries to hide the number of bags she is carrying.  You have been worrying lately about losses in your business and you want her to curb her spending.  Whenever you bring up the topic, she gets angry and complains that you are controlling and stingy.  But you are worried about money and haven’t told her the extent of your financial problems. You can’t help wondering: “Why doesn’t she understand?  Why isn’t she being more careful about her spending?  How can she be so self-centered?  What if I can’t pay the bills this month?”  Your mind is whirling with fear and insecurity, worry and frustration.

Important Relationship Conversation

It is time to have that important talk with your partner, the talk you have been avoiding for a long time.  But how do you begin to approach this problem?  You have let the situation continue for too long.  Your attempts to discuss it have been seen as you just complaining or controlling.  But the time has come to force the issue.  How do you begin?

Step 1   Evaluate the situation carefully and unemotionally. 

Talk to a trusted friend or better yet, a qualified therapist.  Discuss the history of your current situation, the prior history before your relationship even started and the history of the time you have been involved together.

In the first example, determine whether there is any prior history of your partner flirting, cheating or losing interest in you or his previous partners. Determine whether he has some business or personal problems he has not told you about.  In the second example, decide whether your partner is immature and frivolous with money or if she really does not understand your current money worries.

Step 2   Determine what you may have said or done within this relationship that has led to the current problem and how you might be able to remedy the situation. 

Again, you may need to bounce your thoughts off someone who knows you and can tell you truthfully what you may have said or done that could have affected your partner’s behavior.

In the first example, how might you have affected your partner in such a way that he might feel unsafe or unsexy or even unloved?  In the second example, be truthful with yourself about how you might have encouraged your partner to freely spend because you wanted to please her or you wanted her to love you.

Step 3   Ask your partner when might be a good time to have a talk about some important issues in your relationship. 

Schedule the time without discussing the details.  Rehearse this discussion in your mind, over and over, as if you were performing in a play.  Determine, in advance, exactly what outcome you would like to create.  Remember to begin by affirming how much your relationship means to you, how much you love him or her, and what is working well in your relationship.  Once you have set the scene and reaffirmed your partner and your relationship, now you can carefully and sensitively begin a dialogue about your cares and concerns.

Afraid you can’t do it alone? CALL ME. Let me help you reach out to your partner with love.



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Dr. Erica Goodstone is a Spiritual Relationship Healing Expert helping men and women heal their bodies and their relationships through love. Having presented her comprehensive relationship healing programs throughout the U.S. and Canada over several decades, she has helped literally 1000's of men and women to heal through learning how to love. Dr. Erica believes "Where There is Love There IS a Way". When you love, accept, listen and pay attention to your body, trust your own sense of what you truly desire, and strive to understand, appreciate and really know the other people in your life, anything and everything is possible.

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28 thoughts on “Speak Up – 3 Steps to Having that Important Relationship Conversation

  1. Thanks for your article Erica.
    – Having that Important Relationship Conversation.
    – in my case, I think i am having this Conversation all the time, and i think that is way we are happy together more than 30 years.

    • Jose,

      Together over 30 years. You must be doing something right, and conversation is only part of it – appreciation and acknowledgement of each other, sharing good times, trust, love, and more.


      Dr. Erica

  2. Hey Dr Erica! I actually have a great relationship with my fiance’ We have been together for 24 years. We have learned a long time ago that when something is bothering us to just come right out and say it!

    Communication is key to having a good relationship. You do need to learn that nobody can read your mind, if you have something to say “SAY IT!”

    Great Post thanks for sharing.. Chery 🙂

    • Chery,

      You are so right. Problem is, in some relationships it becomes unsafe to say what you want to say. The other person may become defensive, may twist the meaning and turn your words against you, or may become nasty and abusive or give you the silent treatment. You and your partner are fortunate to have found each other and to feel free enough with each other to express your truth.


      Dr. Ericaq

  3. Hello Dr. Erica…..My wife and I have learned over the years to communicate as often and open as we can……..I can’t remember the last disagreement we had…..although i’m sure we’ve had some ……we both work at it together…….We have been together for 21 years and married for 20…..I had a friend once that asked, “Do you love her?”….I said “yes”……Then he asked “Does your wife love you?”…..I said “I think so!”…..He said “Then everything else is negotiable!”….and he was right….everyone has to work together to make a relationship work…….My wife and I have been lucky enough to be able to express ourselves easily to one another…….Your 3 steps are exactly how we do things ….but we both catch those things early so they can be fixed early……Your 3 steps in my words are Step 1: really think about it and determine if there is a problem…..Step 2:…..Take a look in the mirror and see if I was the cause of the problem or issue…….Step 3: decide together when you both can visit with no distractions to to work it out…..Thanks Dr. Erica……..Smokey

    • Greg,

      I like your 3 steps, but they only work if both people in a relationship are working together. If both people really think about it – before blasting and blaming the other person – to decide if there really is a problem. If both people first self-reflect and determine if they had any part in causing or exacerbating the problem. And if both people choose a time that is free from distractions for both, then what more can be asked of 2 people in a relationship? Life is good.

  4. One thing I’ve learned through the years is that when something’s bothering me, my husband would prefer that I let him know rightaway instead of him guessing what he’s done. I on the otherhand, would like to step back and just want to have my space first. So whenever he sees me upset or vice versa, we would just give each other sometime to cool down first before we talk about it. It’s easier to talk when we have cooled down, that way we avoid saying things we don’t really mean.

    • Cherrie,

      You are both wise to take some time out before reacting hastily. Often we react because we are interpreting what the other person is saying based upon our own or the other person’s current mood. When we step back and talk later, we have had some time to reflect upon it and understand the bigger picture before having a heart to heart discussion.


      Dr. Erica

  5. Hi Erica, I’m going to discuss the first scenario, because that was me, many years ago. I mean it was me at the computer all the time, and after reading that scenario, I’m thinking differently about how my partner might’ve been thinking. At the time I was working full time and studying full time, because I wanted to change my career to something more interesting and something which made a lot of money.

    I have to admit though, I became a little obsessed and there wasn’t much balance or fun in my life. My partner was the opposite, he loved to go out and have fun, play with the kids, go down the beach, for barbecues, etc. And, I always had to finish some assignment, or worse still study for a test or exam.

    So, I realize now, he might’ve been thinking it was because I didn’t want to spend time with him. I assumed he knew what I was trying to achieve, but maybe he didn’t know. Anyway, we ended up splitting up and spending time apart for 6 months, which wasn’t a good thing at the time.

    • Julieanne,

      I have seen that sometimes, actually, the best thing for a relationship is to split up for awhile and spend time apart. When the person is there, available, and accepting or getting angry at our actions, we tend to think it doesn’t matter, they just don’t understand, and they will get over it. But when they leave and we are faced with the possibility of losing them and being alone, we can get shocked into bringing our attention back into the relationship.

      What you described is a difficult relationship dilemma. To change careers requires study, time, and focus. That is so much easier to do when there is not another person reacting and needing something from you. Hopefully you both got over it and the relationship healed and survived.


      Dr. Erica

  6. Hi Dr. Erica,

    I think the problem start with us. Most of the time we are interested only in us. Even in a couple, family etc. the same thing happens. We talk to our partner but think only to our problems. We started to realize something is wrong only when our partner decides to leave us for good.
    Unfortunately, most people don’t understand. Even in that final moment when everything blows up, we continue to think about ourselves and our problems. The easiest solution is to blame the other person. He or she is not able to understand “my problem” and wants to leave. It is his / her fault. What can I do? If he/she wants to leave, I cannot stop this.
    I think we must talk to our partner all the time. We must not expect until the problems accumulate. It might be too late.
    Most of all, we need to constantly thing about the other person’s problems. We must step out of our own mind. Difficult, because most people are selfish. However, it s not impossible.

    Have a wonderful day

    • Silviu,

      You are so right. Relationships are built on caring and mutual concern rather than each person being self-centered and only wanting to satisfy their own needs.

      We need approach another person (in business, family or personal life) with the attitude of “How can I serve you?” and “How can we work together to benefit both of us”?


      Dr. Erica

  7. Dr. E,

    It’s so easy to forget to come to a conversation like the ones suggested with an open heart and loving compassion. One might have talked themselves into a frenzy and find that kind of a conversation confrontational.

    It’s take me years to understand the way to approach an important conversation. I first set aside my feelings and, as you say, get to the core of the matter. If I put myself aside it always goes better. I get over there in to her world and allow for the vast differences between men and women.

    Love your suggestions and your desire to be of service to others.



    • Rick,

      You wife is so lucky to be with a man who is attempting to understand and to find the best way to approach having important conversations. In fact, just your willingness to engage in those conversations leads to a more satisfying relationship.


      Dr. Erica

  8. Wow, I love your new (to me) website Dr Erica! This is such an important topic because it’s so easy to let our imaginations take over and the longer those icky feelings are allowed to fester the tougher it’s going to be to clear the air. Thanks for providing such specific tips on how to begin clearing the air.

    • Thanks Marty. On this site I plan to focus more on the types of issues my clients face and on the topics I teach in seminars and workshops. It is so much fun for me to think in this way and blog about it.


      Dr. Erica

  9. Excellent Advice!

    If there is a problem in the relationship, we do need to confront it in a calm rational manner.

    We have to evaluate the situation and I strongly feel that talking to a friend could be too biased. A therapist would be my choice because it could be that I am “assuming” things from some past event that needs to be cleared up. It can also be my partner’s behavior that I’m not pleased with and a therapist knows more than a friend of how to handle this situation. It all depends on the emotion I carry with me.

    Then, and only then, when I can evaluate the situation, set time out to communicate, preferably in a restaurant or anywhere out of the home where they can be distractions or flare ups. Affirming how much this is important to me is a great start. Then using a calm voice get into a discussion.

    There are so many conflicts in relationships that can be healed if we have the right tools. I’m sure you have heard many in your professional experience.

    So if there are readers that may have this problem, you are here to help, just a phone call away!

    Many thanks for this subject,


    • Donna,

      You have shared such wisdom that I am sure has helped over the years in handling your own relationships. There really are tools and ways to approach other people. When done in the right way, the best outcome is possible.

      Thanks for your supportive words.


      Dr. Erica

  10. Hello,

    Your post is very helpful, Communication is the key but sometimes it is a lot harder than it should be.. Your advice is gold 🙂 Thank you kindly,

    Regards, Jessica.

    • Jessica,

      You are so right. Communication is key and it is sometimes so difficult, especially when the other person does not want to talk or cooperate. But there is a way to get around that and to help the other person to see that it will benefit him or her to have that conversation.


      Dr. Erica

  11. Dr. Erica,
    what a timing for your great article….

    Yesterday I was at a family birthday party were my ex was present…

    We have been divorced for more than 20 years now, but some how we still happen to encounter ourselves here and there. NO eye to eye contact at all, and as I greeted others, I could sense that she was waiting for me to greet her as well.

    In my mind I was saying, it is to late for that conversation.. we had plenty of time before divorcing and you always acted as you knew it all… so now keep it all for your self all that “knowing”, I am not interested.

    You see, before divorcing I did all what was in my power to save the marriage for the sake for the children and yes, for the sake of the family as a whole… but she always avoided the one on one communication a civilized people, she was always pointing finger how bad I was and how ignorant I was… but at the same time, I was thinking just the same but we never had the opportunity to sit down and chat as two human beings.

    Ho yes, we had some marriage counselling, but was the same thing and after 19 year I called quit… and now she want to chat… interesting!!!

    There is a saying, it takes two to tang but unless they other one want to dance… there is no dancing haha 🙂

    Your 3 steps that you shared above are perfect to use if both partners are willing to save the relationship or at list have an understanding of the impact the marriage brake up have.. but when one or the other does not comprehend the impact… non of them materialize no matter how many time any one attempt to have them… I can be as a testimony right here and now… it never happen UNTIL the brake up is done and at that time it is to late to sit down again especially as in my situation.. the last time we finally divorced in 1987… it was the third time around, so I just could not keep on doing it for ever.

    Thanks so much Dr. Erica for all the support you give to others through all your hard work of writing books, coaching and counselling.

    • Nick,

      So many relationships are like the one you had – one person wants so much to make it work and the other person resists and blames. Sometimes just a separation can cause the other person to come around and be willing to talk. Sometimes just the threat of divorce can do it. And then, of course, there are times when one person has finally given up trying. Interesting that your ex seemed finally ready to have that conversation. It can take people a long time and a lot of life experiences before they are ready to fully participate in a relationship.


      Dr. Erica

  12. Thanks for the good advice, Dr. Erica.

    I have a difficult conversation that I need to have with someone close to me and this has given me some ideas how to approach it.


    • Shelly,

      It is important to think about it, even rehearse exactly what you are going to say, and visualize the outcome you want to attain. Just the way we practice how to be successful in a job interview or how to enroll someone in our courses or programs, we need to plan how to approach and speak to someone when it is important and difficult.


      Dr. Erica

  13. I especially like Step 3 when you suggest that we first affirm the love and what is working. When I was younger and felt that something was “off” and not right with my man, it sent my intuition and imagination running. Of course, I wanted hime to understand me and the way that I’m feeling. What would start off as a misunderstanding and a situation where I simply did not feel good about something in the moment and I wanted him to see it and respond, turned out to be something that caused a huge disconnect between us. One of the most valuable changes that I made to improve our communication was to affirm him FIRST in order to get him to listen and respond to me in and positive way that shows that he hears and appreciates my feelings.

    • Rachel,

      Your experience is so very common. Couples create huge fights because neither one feels affirmed. Just a few supportive words to start can change the whole mood of the conversation and lead to mutually satisfying results.


      Dr. Erica

  14. It is hard to be objective when our feelings are being hurt isn’t it?. Do you find it the more normal reaction that we tend to think that, if our partner’s behavior is not as it used to be, then it is some kind of personal rejection?

    My ex became a workaholic and chose a job where he traveled a great deal. I assumed that he was not happy with me. It turns out it was family life in general and he wanted more freedom.

    Talking to friends did not help much as they considered him remote and uncaring in general. I did not discuss it with him because I think I was afraid of the truth and it would give him a chance to leave. Looking back I should have tried some professional therapy to stop me turning to shopping therapy and too regular evening self medication.

    I am more secure and in tune with my current partner and if he becomes quiet or grumpy I know it is usually because of his health issue and pain, even though he does not complain about it. I have no problems in asking him what’s wrong. I am more of an open book and will just tell him is something is bothering me.

    • Sue,

      My uncle Herman used to have a favorite saying:
      “We grow too soon oldt and too late schmart.”
      It seems that you have learned to express yourself and to seek the kind of help that really can help. Friends are not always the best source of advice in matters of the heart.


      Dr. Erica

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