How to have healthy discussions in relationships

Boom. This is a big one! Romantic or platonic, many of us struggle with having difficult conversations in relationships. I've put together a few key tips to help you out with those tricky times as a guideline to work from.


Schedule times for important conversations:

If you're prone to arguing due to the emotional weight of a conversation, put a pin on it until you've both had time to calm down. Letting the other person know that you need to talk about something also gives them a chance to mentally prepare rather than be caught unaware.


Pausing to discuss things stops us from projecting or lashing out at the other person. It gives us time to think about what we want to say and to calm down and work towards resolve rather than just winning.

What this looks like:

"Are you free for a chat sometime soon?"


"I think it's best we come back to this discussion tomorrow" (insert convenient and realistic time). 

This sets a boundary without abandoning the other person - you're letting them know it will be revisited when you've both had time to think. This also fosters a sense of respect for the other person as you're choosing a time out rather than blowing up at them. Trust can be built this way.

What comes next:

There's nothing better than a good meal and a good night's sleep to resolve an issue. If after being rested, fed and watered there's still a sense of the issue, do follow up the discussion in a comfortable setting for you both.

Be sure to make "I" statements that acknowledge your feelings rather than "you" ones which can often be taken negatively as criticism, which is unlikely to spark resolve or build trust.

Take turns listening and keep in mind the desire for the relationship to function, rather than resorting to ego-driven defensiveness. 

If there's still an issue:

Not everything works itself out in one discussion. If tensions arise, repeat the process with a time-out for reflection and calming down. Learning how to communicate emotions effectively is a skill, and many of us resort to defensiveness in personal relationships and we may take things as personal attacks. 

Each time reevaluate whether the issue still needs discussing and be open to letting something rest if it's done with. 

Renowned couples counsellor John Gottman says that 69% of marital conflicts go unresolved. Personally, I find that fact oddly comforting - almost like why argue if you're never going to reach the end - shall we just park this one?

Think about what really matters to you and whether you're holding onto something out of principle or because you are genuinely hurt. 

If you made it to the end of this article, well done!

The art of arguing is a lifelong skill invaluable across all relationships.

"Arguing" may have a bad rep but the effective execution of them can hold such healing potential for us. 

Breathe. Take space. Recollect. Revisit. Be chill. Let go.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Sandbach CW11 & Newcastle ST5
Written by Ellie Belfield, Msc Counselling & Psychotherapy, MBACP Registered
Sandbach CW11 & Newcastle ST5

Ellie Belfield is a therapist, mama & flower enthusiast who is passionate about helping others along their paths. She has written for the Permaculture Research Insitute and has a Master of Science in Counselling & Psychotherapy. Follow her on Instagram @readytodothework

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