Things Couples Don’t Talk About - But Should
When couples are early in a relationship and still in the “love bubble”, they often are rarely thinking about some of the harder things that may come up as their relationship develops. As a result, there are many important topics that couples do not discuss before marriage or a long-term commitment. Oftentimes, it is not until a couple comes into my office for therapy that they begin to have these conversations. Below is a list of a few of the topics that couples often do not talk about. Having conversations about these can help you understand your partner on a deeper level, as well as set your relationship up for success.
How Each Partner Needs to be Loved
You may have heard of the concept of the 5 Love Languages. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, we all have a specific “language” that we receive and experience love in. It is not uncommon for partners to have different love languages, and as a result, each partner shows love to their partner in the way they themselves would like to receive love, and are confused as to why their partner may not respond to these attempts at expressing love. It is important for couples to talk about how they each need to receive love to feel fulfilled, as well as how they can best express love to their partner in the way that they need to feel fulfilled. If you are interested in learning more about the love languages, you can visit the website: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Decision-Making & Communication Styles
We all approach decision making in different ways, and it can create issues in couples when decision-making styles do not match. It is important for couples to discuss what they need in the decision-making process, and what the expectations are from each other in this process. Similarly, oftentimes, partners may communicate in different ways. For example, one partner may like to talk through an issue as soon as it comes up, while the other partner needs time and space to think before engaging in this conversation. Knowing this about your partner can help you understand their communication with you, as well as help you have a better chance of having a successful discussion.
Another area that couples often don’t talk about until an issue arises is what each person’s role in the relationship will look like. Some areas that might be discussed include expectations in roles regarding parenting, housework, finances, and decision-making. For example, will one partner be in charge of making decisions in some areas, while the other partner may be in charge of those in other areas, or do both of you want to be involved in all decisions equally? When role expectations are not discussed early on, each partner may be silently carrying resentment that their partner is not meeting the expectations they had. But how will your partner know you have these expectations if you never make them known?
What is Considered Cheating
An important area I often see couples not discussing revolves around what is considered inappropriate behavior and boundaries when it comes to interacting and having social relationships with others. Specifically, what is considered crossing a boundary into cheating/infidelity. For example, can you and your partner have friends of the opposite sex, and spend time with them without your partner? Today, an essential piece of this conversation includes what is considered appropriate behavior on social media. Is chatting with people your partner does not know on Facebook appropriate within your relationship? These boundaries look different for each couple. But it is essential to talk about this early on, rather than after a boundary was crossed that your partner did not realize was a boundary because it was never explicitly talked about.
Hopes and Dreams
Dr. John Gottman describes the importance of creating shared meaning with your partner in growing your bond as a couple. A piece of this shared meaning includes having open dialogue about each other’s dreams and goals. Oftentimes, people never share their innermost hopes and dreams with their partner. Having an open conversation about your goals, hopes, and dreams (both for each other and for you both as a couple) can help increase your bond and help you understand your partner on a deeper level. Talking about dreams is a vulnerable experience, and allowing your partner access to that part of you can be a powerful experience for both of you.
Happy discussing, couples! And as always, if you feel like you and your partner may need some support in having these conversations, consider reaching out to see if couples therapy may be a helpful option for you in that process.
Chapman, G. (2015). The 5 love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Northfield
Gottman, J. M. (1999). The marriage clinic: A scientifically-based marital therapy.
WW Norton & Company.