ALMOST half of couples avoid difficult conversations but tackling tricky topics with a partner can help relationships thrive.
Revealing how their first pregnancy ended in miscarriage WAG Coleen Rooney, 37, said footballer husband Wayne, 38, 'is not a big talker and it can get to the point where it's a bit much'.
But relationship expert Annabelle Knight says: “Being able to talk and navigate choppy waters in your relationship will ensure you stay in a happy and healthy relationship.
"These chats can be more than tough but they are key to a successful partnership.”
Here, Annabelle reveals the six key topics all couples should tackle and how to navigate each one the right way…
The ex files
What you’re secretly thinking – "You’re making the same mistakes my ex partner made".
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How you should tackle it – Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship regardless of how long you’ve been together, and talking openly about your past with your current partner should absolutely be ok.
However, mentioning exes can sometimes make us feel guilty, meaning we badmouth them.
Or, if you parted on good terms, it can make a current partner jealous.
You won't have to worry about that if you talk about them the right way.
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Make sure to keep the focus on your current partner, avoid ‘in jokes’ and trips down memory lane, and never overplay your ex's best bits.
Despite this being a difficult topic for a lot of couples it’s good to keep in mind that this is actually good for your relationship, talking about past loves allows you to crystallise potential pitfalls.
It also helps you to get to know each other on a deeper level, build trust and grow together.
What you’re secretly thinking – "You’re not pulling your weight financially."
How you should tackle it – Talking about money in a relationship is a must.
Understanding your joint financial situation avoids any surprises.
If things aren’t great, you can tackle it together.
Money is the second largest cause of marriage and relationship breakdowns according to marriage.com, so make sure you and your partner are open about any concerns.
Give you and your partner some time to think about what you both want to say, agree beforehand what aspects of your finances you’ll discuss, and have an end goal to aim for.
That way, if the conversation goes off track you’ll be able to steer it back without too much trouble or hostility.
Transparency is the only way to make sure your relationship doesn’t stumble later on, and the best time to talk about it is
The best time to discuss finances is when your partner’s money starts to mix with yours.
This usually happens when you’ve been together a little while and at this point it’s time to sit down with your partner and talk about how you’re going to merge your financial life into your love life.
What you’re secretly thinking – "I don’t want to have sex with you."
How you should tackle it – Sex is a highly personal, sensitive and emotive topic, and a lot of people would rather put up with no spark than talk about it.
Sexual desire in a marriage or long-term relationship can wane and it’s important to know when this is happening, talk about it, and navigate your way through it so that you can both enjoy a fulfilling sex life.
This can be an extremely difficult topic to talk about as for some sex can feel shameful to discuss, if an open face to face conversation fills you with dread then agree to put pen to paper first.
Write a list of your concerns, your desires, and make sure to include the stuff that’s working for you too.
When you’re done swap lists and have a read, now you’ve broken the ice you’ll feel better able to talk about it.
I’d also recommend downloading an intimacy app such as ‘Kindu.’
Kindu helps to empower couples to better their relationship using a virtual deck of cards that invite play, builds emotional intimacy, and improves sexual confidence within your relationship.
What you’re secretly thinking – "I’m bored and thinking about having an affair."
How you should tackle it – It’s not uncommon for us to feel a bit ‘meh’ from time to time.
Identifying when you’ve become a little indifferent in your relationship and working on the reasons why, is the only way you’ll progress to feeling happy again.
A lack of general contentment tends to arise when couples become complacent, when life gets in the way, and when routine replaces spontaneity.
It's not uncommon for us to feel a bit 'meh' from time to time."
Role play is a great way to get you to try something new, be playful you’re your partner, and help to reignite that spark.
Role play isn’t always for the bedroom, you can pick any scenario, anywhere, and give it a go.
This works especially well if you take into consideration your unique love language.
For example, if ‘acts of service’ is your thing, you may play with the idea of your partner taking on a subservient role.
Keeping things fresh will keep things interesting, meaning that your attention will stay firmly with your partner.
What you’re secretly thinking – "You want different things to me."
How you should tackle it – If you’re in a committed relationship then talking about the future is a must.
You and your partner need to make sure that your goals and life plans align whether it’s having kids or planning for retirement.
If you fail to have this conversation then further down the line things can get tricky and can lead to the breakdown of your relationship.
Actively listen, which means going beyond simply hearing the words that another person speaks but also trying to understand them by being fully present in the conversation.
When you’re talking about big topics, don’t judge, but ask questions about their thoughts and feelings around the subject.
It shows you care. Make sure you acknowledge how they’re feeling and don’t interrupt them – your time will come.
Life after love
What you’re secretly thinking – "How would I cope without you?"
How you should tackle it – ‘I don’t know what I’d do without you’, is something we’ve all said, probably in good humour.
But the reality is that you need to know what you would do if suddenly, they’re gone.
It’s a good idea to talk about practical things together such as taking out life insurance if you don’t have it already.
Talking about your feelings and being open with your journey of grief to those around you is extremely important, especially if you have children.
Bringing your own emotional wall down shows your children that it is safe for them to do so too.
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Stay positive when discussing darker topics and help your partner feel safe from the start by saying: “Thanks for talking about this, I think it will really help us.”
Timing is everything – when you know a conversation may be triggering for either of you, plan ahead and don’t rush it.
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