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    How do you approach difficult topics with your partner?
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
    People often talk about what's upsetting them in their relationship. And, while discussing problems in your relationship is important, there are ways to do it and ways not to do it.

    If there are difficult things you need to tell your partner, it's often helpful to approach it like this:

    Begin with what you appreciate about your partner.
    Say what you want, not just what you don't want.
    Be specific.

    Does this match how you talk about difficult issues with your partner? How well does it work for you? What else do you do that helps you keep difficult discussions productive? For this and more information, please visit Dr. BeckerPhelps Blog in The Art of Relationships .
    Chris_WebMD_Staff responded:
    That is usually how I try to approach difficult topics. Money and kids and all those things that go with raising a family, for sure Dr. Becker-Phelps. But first I feed him dinner! Smart huh?

    Life is too short, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly.
    Author Unknown
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to Chris_WebMD_Staff's response:
    Happy taste buds and a satisfied stomach are always a good way to make any interaction go better.
    lissmeanstrouble responded:
    I am replying to your thread Dr Becker-Phelps in hope that other readers might chime in and give me advice... cause Im reading your format for approaching my difficult subject, and I am still stuck.
    My fiance is wonderful, I really love him so much, and have complete faith in our relationship. The only thing is, our love is very new, and we are still learning ALOT about eachother. Im sure you can never know EVERYTHING about a person, but I feel that your spouse is someone you should come pretty darn close to knowing everything about....
    Hes had a vasectomy, and while he is not opposed to having it reversed at all, I wonder why he had it done in the first place, when I ask, he gives me the same short answer, and I dont feel its a sufficient explanation.
    He has a twelve yr old son, and a nine year old daughter with two different women. His sons mother is really cooperative, and friendly, she jokes with me, and we have eachothers phone numbers to coordinate pick up times with the boy. We get to see him every weekend, and Im sure hes falling in love with me.
    But his daughters mother refuses to let her see us. His daughter was molested by her mothers ex. And now his daughter had issues with adult men... but she has seen her dad since that happend, and I feel that her mom will not let her see my fiance just because of me...
    I am getting married to him, and still havent gotten to meet his daughter, Id really like to meet her.
    His daughters mother is much more hateful towards him, cynical, tell him hes worthless etc...hangs up on him, wont answer his calls. I wish he would tell me what happened between them that makes her behave this way...
    Again when I ask he is very dismissive. He just says shes crazy. Im looking for a story of what lead to them breaking up, and he just wont give it to me.
    This weekend I finally voiced to him, that I would rather him not make racist comments about strangers, that it really offends me, and he says "ok drop it!" wouldnt even let me finish... I had thought long and hard about confronting him about this, so I told him I wasnt finished, and I kept unloading on him. When I was done, all he said was ok Im sorry lets not talk about it anymore.
    I dont want him to retreat with his tail between his legs, or bottle up his opinions... I am so frustrated with his close-ended conversation I havent wanted to have sex. So he shaved off his goatee that he was so proud of, I think he thought I find him unattractive cause of the goatee when it was really his words, and lack of conversation that had me upset.
    We had sex last night after a week of not, which is the longest we havent had sex since weve met. I was feeling like I had an emotional release, and was being really loud, and he stopped and told me to be quiet! So I started crying cause I was really enjoying our sex, and then he freakin tells me to be quiet?! So I just feel really wierd now, and feel like I need to have a talk, I just dont know where to friggin start...
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to lissmeanstrouble's response:
    It sounds to me like there might be a serious breakdown in your communication -- I wonder if there are other topics that you shy away from because of his reactions. I also think it's important that you work through any communication issues before you marry -- marriage only brings more difficult things that will need addressing. It's just this kind of issue that can ruin a marriage in the long run.

    As for now, start with telling him what you appreciate in your relationship and how you love him. Explain that you want to marry him and spend the rest of your life with him. But say that you also need to work out some thing with him-- that you have trouble with how he sometimes snaps at you and stops talking (and whatever else you have a problem with). Explain that it's important to you that the two of you can talk through issues - not just have them end because he says so. You will probably do best to then focus on one specific example. For instance, say that you would like to understand what led to his divorce. If he shuts that down, ask him to help you understand why he shuts it down (for instance, maybe it's too painful to talk about). Do your best to try to really understand his perspective. You might not end up hearing all that you want to hear, but hopefully he will open up more about what he's going through. If this happens, make sure to let him know how much you appreciate it.

    If you cannot improve your communication on your own, I suggest some sessions with a couple therapist to work on this before you marry.

    Good luck!
    lissmeanstrouble replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    You are awesome I am so glad I replied to this thread and got advice from you, I really appreciate this, I am going to sit down with him, and have this talk now I think I have calmed down and thought about it and have some ideas for an approach and affirmation that its an important issue to address before we get married.
    Thanks again so much!
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to lissmeanstrouble's response:
    I'm really glad I've help. Let us know how it goes!

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