I can not even begin to tell you how many difficult conversations I have had to have over the years. Not just with clients, but also with my spouse.
There have been conversations ranging from finances to parenting. But none come close to the ones about sexual integrity.
My husband used to be addicted to pornography. He struggled for years and, once we got married, he continued to struggle. It wasn’t until I had an extremely intimidating conversation that it began to turn around.
You see, up until that point our conversations about porn and masturbation centered around “I will stop, I am sorry”. The one chat that turned everything around was more about me not sticking around if there was no change AND the why behind his behavior.
I don’t know that I could have entered into that conversation and have it be successful if I did not do the three things I will share with you now:
- Stay MINDFUL
The ability to stay mindful comes with practice. Mindfulness is the practice of staying in the here and now. It allows you to take notice of what you are feeling and how that is making your body react.
When you are able to remain in a place of mindfulness, you are better equipped to realize when you are getting heightened in a conversation which, in turn, allows you to step out of that state and back into a calmer frame of mind.
I know, I know incredibly easy to say but seriously difficult to do.
Mindfulness, just like anything else in life, takes practice. Olympians don’t get to the Olympic games without a ton of practice under their belts. The same rings try here. The more you practice being mindful of your emotions, your body sensations, and the environment around you, the better you will be when the time comes to use it.
Throughout your day, you can practice mindfulness. Check-in with yourself about how you are feeling at various times of the day.
When you are able to be more mindful in conversation, there are fewer arguments which provides greater room for vulnerability.
2. Stay CURIOUS
Curiosity is a curious thing! I would have never thought that if I were to stay curious in a conversation that would enable me to have deeper, more intimate relationships.
Hear me out, the more curious you are about something, the more you will want to learn about it and pursue it. That principle is true for conversations as well. The more you are curious about the why behind the words that are said or the emotions that are felt, the better you will be able to ask more questions which will help you hear the true meaning.
Too often we get into spats with our spouses because we hear what they say but then interpret it incorrectly.
There is a great tool that can be used here, maybe you’re familiar: “I heard you say …………(whatever it is you heard), Is that what you meant?”
This one sentence and question can help solve so many fights because it leaves less room for faulty interpretation and provides space for each spouse to feel truly heard. When we hear each other well, we can come to conclusions well.
3. Know your BOUNDARIES
Boundaries get a bad rap.
They are GOOD! Everyone needs them in order to live well.
Knowing what you value and what you don’t is a great place to start when thinking about boundaries. For example, I do not value my husband looking at pornography. So, it was a boundary of mine in that difficult conversation that he gets the help needed in order to stop that behavior.
Knowing what is healthy vs. unhealthy is helpful in any hard conversation with your spouse. What will you allow in your marriage and what won’t you? Those are some of the baselines to think about when chatting specifically about recovery.
It is absolutely vital to be on the same page while working on recovery in your marriage. Just like mindfulness and curiosity allow room for deeper, connected, vulnerable conversation, boundaries do the same.
While these are only three things to keep in mind the next time you need to have a chat with your spouse, know that, ultimately, it takes time and practice to be comfortable in the uncomfortable.
There is a great new book out all about these harder conversations with your spouse, I urge you to check it out: Better Man, Better Marriage: Awaken Your Inner Hero and Move from Passive to Powerful in Your Most Important Relationship.