9 Conversations That Naturally Create More Kindness In Your Relationship
Many times, relationship conflicts can be resolved with a simple conversation, and what better way to avoid tense confrontations than to have these chats ahead of time. There are a number of conversations to have with your partner that can cultivate kindness in your relationship, and although they might seem scary to have at first, you might be surprised at how these little discussions can greatly change your relationship. Simply knowing what each of you likes, dislikes, and fears can help the both of you handle tense situations down the line.
"Difficult conversations are a part of any close relationship," therapist Rachel Gersten, LMHC, CHC tells Bustle. "Avoiding those conversations essentially means that those conflicts are never going to be resolved and instead are going to simmer and continuously be an issue in the relationship. If you're constantly upset with someone about an issue, it's going to build resentment, which is never a good thing. Not everything needs to be an argument, and often an honest and open conversation can resolve a lot of the concerns within the relationship before it becomes a bigger issue."
Here are nine conversations to have with your partner that naturally create more kindness in your relationship, according to experts.
1. Share Your Dreams & Goals
Begin by sharing your dreams and goals with each other. "Talk about your dreams for the future and what you hope to accomplish in five years," psychotherapist and relationship expert Eliza Boquin, MA, LMFT tells Bustle. "Be as descriptive as possible. This is a wonderful way to invite your partner into your innermost hopes and aspirations. If your partner is sharing with you, listen to them with curiosity and encouragement."
2. Figure Out Your Love Language
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages — words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, quality time, and receiving gifts — and they are the ways that people express their love, and interpret the feelings of others. Learning more about your partner's love language, and sharing yours, can help bridge communication gaps in your relationship to help you feel more connected.
"The wildly popular book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages, gives couples a great template to helping identify the way they perceive and prefer to receive love," says Boquin. "This is a great way to highlight that we all bring our personal history and experiences into relationships that filter our love lens and how we perceive our partner's actions. It can help us be more aware and sensitive to not only our needs, but your partner's."
3. Share Your Fears & Personal History
If the relationship is secure and you feel safe enough, share your history of fears and any personal history, including any negative experiences or baggage, with your partner. "Past negative experiences can impact our ability to be vulnerable in a relationship, because being vulnerable doesn't feel safe," says Boquin. "If you're able to share any part of your history with your partner this can provide them with some insight about reactions to behaviors or comments they make. It may help for them to depersonalize the behavior and not see it as a rejection of them, but an experience that has impacted how you're able to show up in relationships."
4. State Your Boundaries
It's important to have explicit conversations about the boundaries of your relationship. "In other words, [say] what is OK what is not OK," says Boquin. "Far too many couples take for granted that they are both on the same page about topics such as interacting with others on social media, what is considered cheating, what role extended family will play in their lives, etc. By making the boundaries clear, there will be no room left for interpretation or misunderstanding."
5. Discuss How You Like To Be Comforted When You're Upset
Ask one another, "When you are upset, what can I do for you?" Some people like to be comforted, while others prefer to be left alone. "In a calm moment, ask each other what would be helpful from the other when they are stressed, upset, or hurting," therapist Crystal Clancy, MA, LMFT tells Bustle. This way, you can better learn to help and support each other when these situations arise.
6. Talk About Your Family Life
Discuss each other's family life and how conflict tended to be resolved with loved ones. "This discussion can give amazing information to couples about what tends to happen when they themselves are in conflict," says Clancy. "In my ideal world, couples would have this conversation before getting married, so that they can address this issues while conflict is still rare."
7. Explain What You Like In Bed
"This is always a hard conversation for people to have (thanks, stigma!), but it's vital to making sure each person is getting their needs met in bed," says Gersten. "It's more beneficial to have the conversation outside of the bedroom and with the perspective of trying to understand what makes the other person feel satisfied. It's a good time to talk about boundaries, fantasies, and what you enjoy and don't want any part of." This way, you are both on the same page about what you're comfortable with, what you'd like to explore, and what you need from each other during sex.
8. Talk About Future Plans
If the relationship is serious, there should be a conversation about what each person envisions their life to be in the future. "Are kids in the plan?" says Gersten. "Marriage? Moving closer to family? What are each person's career goals? For the most part, the visions each person has should mostly match up in order for the relationship to be successful. In this conversation, you can learn what the non-negotiables are and what might be able to be compromised in order to stay together happily."
9. Find Out Each Other's Views On Money
Discussing money can also be uncomfortable topic, but it's crucial to get an idea of how the other person views money and what they prioritize spending on, especially if you ever plan to combine finances. "If one person is a saver and the other is a spender, without a conversation, there's going to be a lot of butting heads," says Gersten. "Each person should understand what the other person wants to spend money on regularly, what they each consider a 'splurge,' and how they feel about the idea of debt."
These conversations aren't always easy, but can they help foster kindness and understanding in your relationship once you have them.