If you have ever been in a relationship, you have probably had difficult conversations with your significant other – you know, the conversations that you continue to put off because they are not easy to have. Jay Shetty says these uncomfortable conversations are important for creating healthy relationships.
It may not be pleasant, but setting a deadline to have these conversations will keep you on track and give you less of an excuse to postpone the conversations you need to have.
Jay Shetty unpacks the top five uncomfortable relationship conversations you need to have and explains how your relationship will improve from these conversations in a way you never imagined.
Is the Relationship Going in the Right Direction?
Most people have an ideal vision of what they want their relationship to look like, yet they never communicate that to their partner. The ideal vision does not always come to fruition, but it especially won’t if you never discuss it with your partner.
Sit down with your partner and ask simple questions. Is the relationship going in the direction you want it to go? Is it growing in a way that is making you happy? If the answer is yes, then ask why, and give your own answers honestly.
According to Jay Shetty, it is essential to ask these questions. Too often, people go decades without asking these questions. By the time the discussion comes up, it could be too late. One of you may feel like it was never going in the right direction, and now it is at a point where it is difficult to fix.
“I love checking in with Radhi,” Jay Shetty explains. “I have this conversation with her regularly, probably once a week or once a month at the very least. When you ask that question, you're giving that person an opportunity to check in with you as well. You're giving them an opportunity for introspection and reflection. A question like this, without any expectations, without any judgment, can be a beautiful way of creating more introspection and reflection in your relationship simply by asking, ‘Is this relationship going in the direction you want it to go?’”
Jay Shetty reminds us that it’s not a great conversation to have during times of argument or trouble, however. When emotions are high, it is easy to spit out the words, “You don’t want me anymore” or “This isn’t what I am looking for.” Instead of an honest question, these words are uttered defensively or with sarcasm.
When you ask your partner this question from a place of genuine care instead of a response or reaction of anger, it can help the relationship instead of hinder it.
“When you're asking in a genuinely sincere way, you're not challenging them,” explains Jay Shetty. “You're not testing them. The tone is about inquiry and curiosity.”
But what if you ask this question and your partner says things aren’t going the way they want them to go? Then it’s time to make changes to support the relationship. Take accountability and responsibility to help your relationship grow. And if you’re the one who’s dissatisfied with how things are going, ask yourself what you’re willing to do to help make improvements in addition to what your partner is willing to do.
“The benefit of this question is way greater than the challenge of this question,” Jay Shetty explains. “If you're thinking about avoiding this conversation, don't. Have it more often. Make it normal to reflect and introspect in your relationship. Make it normal to have a conscious conversation in your relationship. If you leave it for the bad times, it doesn't work.”
What Are Your Thoughts On Children?
Whether or not you want children isn’t a first-date conversation. For most people, it doesn’t come up until later in a relationship, sometimes not at all until you find it staring you in the face. As your relationship grows with your partner, Jay Shetty says you should talk about whether or not you want children, how many, and how it will affect both of your lives.
Having a conversation about children allows you and your partner to explain your reasoning why each of you do or don’t want children. The decision should not be made lightly. When you invite a new life into your relationship, it comes with new challenges, emotions, responsibilities, and expenses. If you are not prepared to tackle these things as a couple, it can strain your relationship.
“I hear a lot about couples having a second child to save the marriage or to keep the marriage together,” Jay Shetty shares. “They feel it will strengthen their bond. I promise you it won't. I've seen it with friends, clients, and people in my life who've had a second child to keep a marriage together, and it had a negative impact on the marriage. You don't strengthen your bond by adding more challenges to your life.”
Stop making conversations about children and how they will affect your life so taboo and uncomfortable. When you are in love and excited to spend life together, it is good to talk about the things that will help you grow as a couple and get you to where you want to be.
How Do You Feel About Your Purpose?
“People who have found their purpose are better parents, better partners, better people, and better professionals because they're satisfied in and of themselves,” explains Jay Shetty. “Purpose means self-satisfaction. Purpose means you get joy, validation, and growth from the work that you do. It’s not just your job. It could be anything. It could be your weekend or your evenings. Being satisfied in your purpose allows you to be completely there for your partner or your children and allows you to do more.”
Finding purpose is something we all strive for, so why is it so hard to share with your partner? Jay Shetty explains that what confuses people is they have an incorrect perception of what purpose really is. They believe their spouse or kids have to be their purpose. They feel their profession is their purpose when it isn’t. People shift their purposes without even realizing they do it.
Purpose is what fuels you in the morning to get up and conquer whatever the day has in store. It is your reason for doing what you do.
Talking to your partner about finding and living their purpose benefits your relationship. Ask them questions like:
- Do you feel you're doing things that are purposeful in life?
- Do you feel like what you're doing is meaningful?
- What motivates your intentions?
- What things are important to you?
“The more you find your purpose, the more your partnership benefits,” explains Jay Shetty. “You have more satisfaction independently so you can enhance each other. You have more connections with yourself and who you are independently so you can support each other. Otherwise, it is so difficult to support someone else, especially supporting someone without a purpose.”
If you have found your purpose but your partner has not, you can help them by providing them compassion, empathy, and love. Do not force them to find meaning. Guide them if they want your help.
Are You Surrounded by People You Want in Your Life?
As a couple, you are probably surrounded by a lot of people, including your friends, your partner’s friends, and your couple friends. Bringing two sets of friends into one relationship means you may not always get along with everyone. Many times one partner tolerates the spouse of their partner’s friend for the sake of their partner, even though they don’t gel with them.
This is completely normal. In fact, Jay Shetty and his wife, Radhi, have three groups of friends.
“She has her friends, I have my friends, and then we have a group of friends that cross over,” explains Jay Shetty. “What I realized is that in a relationship your individual groups of friends are as important as your collective group of friends. Your collective group of friends are not a substitute for individual friends and your individual friends are not a substitute for your collective friends. Your partner is not a substitute for your own friends either. I know too many couples that think, ‘I'm with my best friend, why do I need any more friends?’ That isolated culture is not healthy for anyone. Over-reliance on each other is not healthy.”
Checking in with your partner is important to make sure they are okay with the friend group you are surrounded with. Be open about the time you plan to spend with your friends, and encourage them to make time for their friends as well as carve out time to spend with your mutual friend group.
Are You Financially Compatible?
Money. The thought of discussing it with your partner might make you cringe. Conversations surrounding finances can cause disagreements, hard feelings, and stress. It is okay to have differences when it comes to finances. What is not okay is putting off conversations that you need to have regarding those differences.
David Olson, professor at the University of Minnesota, identified five questions you can ask to find out if you're financially compatible with your partner1.
- Do we agree on how to spend money?
- Do you have any concerns about how your partner handles money?
- Are you satisfied with decisions about your savings?
- Are major debts a problem?
- Is making financial decisions difficult?
When you ask yourself these questions about your partner’s financial compatibility, it will generate answers that lead to conversations that will help you both avoid disagreements and stress.
Avoiding difficult conversations doesn’t make the issues go away, Jay Shetty reminds listeners. It actually often enhances the issues. If you make it a habit to have regular conversations based on these questions, you can catch and solve the issues that arise quickly and accelerate the growth of your relationship.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “5 Uncomfortable Relationship Conversations” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.