couple holding hands talking tough topics

The best way to start a tricky conversation

Communication · 3 min read

It is inevitable that at some point in any relationship you will have to bring up a sticky subject that feels difficult to approach. It could be any number of things: a desire for change, an annoying habit, the need to address hurt, etc. The idea of bringing up these tough topics can fill us with anxiety and dread, leading us to continually put it off. While there is not one right way to start these conversations we asked some couples how they approach touchy topics and here is what they said. 

Prepare what you want to say (and maybe even practice it).

Taking time to gather your thoughts so that you can communicate as effectively as possible is hands down the most common answer. Preparation is key. Try writing down what you want to say and reading it through a couple of times instead of diving right into a hard conversation. 

Seek to understand (ask questions).

If the conversation is about something your partner did or does, seek to understand. Ask thoughtful questions about the topic and try to see things from their perspective. Empathy doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it can be practiced. Be sensitive to how your partner is reacting. How does the world look through your partner’s eyes?

Be as clear as possible (clarity reduces chaos).

This goes hand in hand with preparation. It is important to be as clear as possible when explaining to your partner what is in your head and heart. Clarity can be difficult to find sometimes, and that is okay. Give it your best shot to express what you really feel instead of beating around the bush. 

Timing is very important (find the right moment).

Picking the right time to start tough conversations is vital. Imagine your partner coming home from a very stressful day at work, kids are screaming for their supper, chores have been piling up, and nothing at all seems to be going their way. That is probably not the best time to talk about difficult things. While there may never be a perfect time, there will be appropriate times. Choose wisely. 

Be humble (get off your high horse).

It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. If you are in a committed relationship then you should seek to understand and build up your partner. When initiating hard conversations don’t put yourself in a place of superiority. Maintain equality and mutual respect. You and your partner are a team! 

Conversations like these aren’t easy, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be had. Avoidance is the most common response to tough topics, but it’s these exact conversations that can make your relationship stronger. How do you bring up difficult things with your partner? Are you direct or harsh? Do you bring it up at the wrong time? Do you seek to understand your partner’s perspective on the matter? 


We all fall into certain communication habits, for the good and not so good, especially with our partner! Toucan Together helps you discover deeper ways of communicating and find positive approaches for resolving arguments, grow intimacy, trust and more. Get started by taking the​‘Pulse’ of your relationship with our short research-based quiz and see the health of your relationship across seven key indicators. GET STARTED NOW | LOG IN

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