8 Topics To Discuss with Your Partner in 2022

In any relationship, it can be easy to overlook seemingly little things that could become major issues as time passes. Our feelings about ourselves and our partner, might lead us to believe that we can overcome differing beliefs or opinions or that we will be able to convince our significant other to “change”.

Research shows that certain types of conflicts and arguments are the most commonly reported contributors to a relationship ending. However, couples who discuss meaningful, weighty, and sometimes controversial topics early on and consistently thereafter, avoid these pitfalls.

Doing so can be scary and painful. But it can also be enlightening, helpful, and a key to strengthening the bond we have already created with our significant others. So consider asking questions, actively listening, and engaging in deep discussions about these topics.

1.  “Let’s talk about our childhood.”  While it might not seem relevant to everything happening at the moment, childhood events, which could be anything that caused us to feel scared, helpless, or overwhelmed, almost always have very significant impacts on our adult relationships. More than two-thirds of children reported at least one traumatic event by age 16. While we may think “the past is the past” and it’s not worth getting into things from our childhood, sharing even a little information about these events with our partners can go a long way to better understand and care for one another (and often solve conflicts happening today!)

2.  “Do you want children (or more children)?” If we want children, we might assume our significant other does, too. However, some research shows that more than 25% of adults wish to remain child-free. Therefore, it is essential to know whether we are on the same page. It is also vital to determine how childcare and housework would be divided. In addition, you might wish to discuss what you would want to do if having a biological child doesn’t work out.

 3.  “I want to understand your religious beliefs and practices.” Nearly 40% of adults who married between 2010 and 2014 have a spouse who identifies with a different religious group than their own. But even couples of the same faith can have differences, such as how important it is to attend services or how they practice their faith in daily life. Exploring these differences can increase the chance of a successful relationship. Similarly, we should examine other substantial diversities, such as racial, ethnic, or cultural differences and differing political views. These factors are not inherently problematic, but acknowledging and embracing these distinctions can create a stronger foundation for a long and happy union.

 4.  “What are your expectations regarding sex?” It can be an uncomfortable topic for some of us, but discussing intimacy now can prevent feelings of resentment, rejection, or embarrassment in the future. Not only should we talk about our ideal sex life, but also hypothetical scenarios, such as changing sex drives, physical issues, and intimacy after having kids, if children are part of the plan.

5.  “Let’s talk about money.” Financial problems are another leading cause of relationship ending. Research shows that as many as 60% of couples argue with their spouses about spending habits. To avoid this, work on clarifying financial matters. Discussing our current debts, determining how bills will be paid, and planning a budget that includes set amounts for discretionary spending can pave the way for contentment.

6.  “Where do extended family and friends come in?” Of course, we want to encourage our mates to enjoy loving, healthy connections with their best buddies and relatives. But when well-meaning or overbearing in-laws or friends insert themselves in our relationship, resentment can develop quickly. Setting boundaries and sharing expectations in advance can put a stop to those issues before they ever begin.

7.  “What does marriage mean to you?”  If you’re married or considering getting married, often our expectations of marriage may differ from our partner’s (this is normal). Understanding your partner’s expectations can foster effective communication and meeting each other’s needs. It can also highlight matters we have different mindsets, perspectives, or views about. This knowledge allows us to work out any conflicts, find areas for compromise, and strategize for empathetic and compassionate ways to meet in the middle.

8.  “How do you plan to resolve conflicts?” No matter how well-suited for one another a couple might be, all relationships will have their share of disagreements and disputes. When we learn to deal with conflict constructively, we can develop a relationship that will weather any storm. Look at past arguments and how you both managed them. Understanding our tendencies and dispositions allows us to work on less-helpful ones, like sarcasm or shutting down.  Lastly, no matter how much we know about our partners and how much we want things to go smoothly, conflict is inevitable.  Creating a list of practices to avoid, such as yelling, name-calling, or bringing up unrelated issues, can improve our chances of working things out more amicably. Similarly, we can devise a set of strategies to resolve disagreements more constructively, such as never going to bed angry and always giving our partner the benefit of the doubt.

Lastly, relationship counseling with a compassionate, unbiased, professional therapist can be valuable when you want to understand yourself, your partner and ultimately what will make a relationship successful. For many couples, therapy is a safe space to speak openly and develop a roadmap for the happiest possible future together.

By:  Tricia Goss, June Health.

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