Communication is the grease that makes the wheels of any relationship go around. But tragically, there are moments when that grease is in short supply. Sometimes it has to do with circumstances—maybe both parties are too tired to talk because work was exhausting, the gym took every ounce of energy, or the kid kept them up all night. Unfortunately, sometimes the breakdown in communication can stem from the topic. And that’s bad. Because no topic should get in the way of a healthy relationship. What topics are usually avoided that really shouldn’t be avoided at all? I’m glad you asked…
Nine Topics Most Couples Avoid—But Really Shouldn’t
Money can be a tough subject to discuss. In research conducted by Twine, only four out of 10 couples talk about their financial goals. That’s a recipe for disaster. Discussions about finances should be deliberate and detailed to ensure that both parties are on the same page. Specifics such as budgeting, spending habits, savings, and investments should be considered.
2. Career Goals
You and your partner’s career aspirations and goals should be discussed openly, too. It’s common for households to have dual-career couples. Because of this, managing a relationship while pursuing your career and personal goals has become more crucial. Disparate personal goals and aspirations can breed confusion. It is good to find the sweet spot where both can pursue some of their career and personal goals and still take care of the needs of their partner.
3. Friends of the Opposite Sex
Defining boundaries with friends from the opposite sex can be a tricky subject. When one starts to commit to a relationship, friendships with the opposite gender may be one of the freedoms that need to be discussed. Boundaries should be clearly defined, and they should be applied not just in face-to-face interactions, but in all forms of interactions (i.e., texts, chats, and social media) as well.
4. Past Relationships
Past relationships can reveal a lot about a person. They can also give birth to insecurity or resentment. When talking about past relationships, focusing more on general themes than on the details is the best way to handle this topic. Remember that the main goal of discussing past relationships is to strengthen and nurture the current one.
Talking about sex and sexual compatibility is a big one. Many feel unsure and intimidated by the subject. So how do you steer the discussion towards this topic? Just talk about it—there’s no other way around it. Remember that sexual compatibility is an ongoing process. Years of being together, maturity, and life events may have an impact on your views on sexuality.
6. Communication Styles
Communication styles vary from one person to another. One person may feel comfortable saying things outright, while another may hold back. One party may be an amplifier—one who communicates by sharing what they have to say in great volumes of details—while the other one is a condenser—one who is, more often than not, comfortable sharing only a little of what is absolutely necessary. While there may be differences in how people communicate, understanding communication styles is key to a respectful and nourishing relationship.
7. Household Chores
Chores, errands, and housework can be a source of conflict if not plainly discussed. Typically, the misunderstandings arise when couples disagree on what “clean” means. One may have a relaxed rule on what is acceptably clean, while the other may be overly zealous about the upkeep of the household—think of Monica from “Friends”. When it comes to household chores, couples need to remember that not all conflicts can be resolved. Manage conflict through compromise or by finding a middle ground. Start by creating a list of the tasks, and together identify who does what.
Anyone who’s ever watched a sitcom on TV knows that couples may struggle with relatives, in-laws and extended family issues. Healthy couples deal with in-laws with respect and by understanding that different people have different ways. The key to managing in-laws is setting healthy boundaries, expressing these boundaries to your spouse, and taking preemptive steps—even before things get out of hand.
9. Our Habits
Our personality quirks and habits make us unique and special. For instance, your significant other may have a distinct obsession over a particular food. Or maybe you snort when you laugh. While some of these habits may be the very reason why we are drawn to our partners, some may annoy and bother us. Honesty without judgment is the best stance to take. Note that bringing up the habit in the heat of an argument may feel threatening to the other party. Lastly, choose your battles. Before asking your partner to quit or stop a habit, reflect whether this habit in question has an impact on the relationship. If not, perhaps it’s something that you can let go.
Communicate and Keep an Open Mind
There are no cut and dried ways to tackle these mentioned topics. Similarly, couples may view these topics with varying levels of ease. Some couples may not even consider the topics discussed here to be taboo at all. The most important thing to consider is for both parties to listen with the intent to understand. And for each to speak the truth clearly and honestly. That is when genuine and open communication occurs—and will, ultimately, lead to better relationships.