Many people who’re romantically involved dread hearing words to this effect from their significant other: “We need to talk about what’s going on with us.” The reason why these words can evoke such fear in us is because we tend not to hear any hope in them. “We need to talk” might as well translate to “It’s over”. The opportunity that was really there – to remember our vision for the relationship and acknowledge where maybe we’ve fallen short of that vision – is therefore oftentimes not recognized. But a partnership that can’t encompass occasional conflicts, and process them, has no room in which to evolve. When it falls into a rut, it stays there – or it ends.
A partnership is, in effect, a commitment between two people to keep growing together. This means that problems will be identified, dragged out into the open, and talked about. Any conflict can really be seen as simply an obstruction that stands between two people and the love that they feel for each other. Thus, it may not represent a “problem” at all, but rather an opportunity to get back to the love. We can take advantage of the moment, then, by honestly expressing our own point of view, listening respectfully to what our partners have to say, or both.
Desires, expectations, hopes, and dreams…all these things should be openly acknowledged, both to ourselves and to our partners. Otherwise, disappointments will fester beneath the surface. Disappointments are really there to tell us that there were certain ways in which we expected love and consideration from our partners and didn’t receive it. We can pretend that we’re all right with the status quo. But if we’re really not, then that dissatisfaction will find its outlet, in large or small ways that undermine whatever good feeling exists within the relationship. The same thing will happen if our intimate partners don’t tell us what’s on their minds.
Freedom of expression should always be allowed – indeed, encouraged – on both sides. And any time is a good time to talk. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a long discussion. In fact, one of the best tactics can be to quickly clear up misunderstandings as soon as they occur. That way they can’t accumulate, over time, into bigger issues. If you ever find yourself reacting to your partner with anger that’s out of all proportion to whatever is happening in the moment, this is a good sign that you’ve been carrying around accumulated frustration that should’ve been aired sooner.
Most of the reasons why relationships fall into a rut can be resolved with good communication. Disturbing influences need to be called by name. Doing so will rob them of much of their power. Ignoring disturbances never makes them go away, and both partners – particularly if they live together – will feel the simmering tension and uneasiness. This can only be diffused if both of them are willing to talk it out.