With Love and Gratitude

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4 Reasons to Have or to Avoid the Relationship Talk

Set aside time for periodic relationship tune-ups.

With the holidays approaching this is a time of expectations. If you have been dating a new man for three to six months - or happen to be in a relationship that seems to be moving sideways instead of going forward, it may be time for the talk.

Even if you are married and your relationship has hit a snag, you may have concluded that it is time to make some relationship decisions. This is important for women.  However, men generally cringe when women even remotely suggest the talk or have that look in their eyes that says, "We need to talk."  Tricky Relationship Talks: Men's Health

 In essence there are several questions here. 

  • Should you have the talk and if so, what is the best way to approach your guy to clarify the relationship?
  • Can you and should you avoid the talk altogether?

Having the talk may be age and diamond-related

Younger women, who are watching all of their friends marry, may feel particularly anxious about their single status.  Those wanting to start a family may feel a sense of urgency after a new relationship passes the three or six month mark.  Bridal Fever - Trailer - YouTube

On the other hand women who have been in a relationship for several years may feel the need for the talk to determine whether or not they will be sporting a sparkling engagement ring.

For women with careers or women who have been divorced - as the trend continues towards living together instead of marriage - there may be no need at all for the talk.

Older women, those in their sexy sixties, may have just one reason for the talk - some researchers contend that married couples are healthier and have better sex than the single set.

4 reasons to have or avoid the talk

  • You can ask and clarify whether or not you are going to be exclusive as a couple.
  • You will have a better sense as to whether or not the man you are with is going to finally walk with you down the aisle.
  • If you have the talk before the holidays, and it doesn't go as you wish, you will not be disappointed if there is no proposal - and you can make the decision to go or stay.
  • If you decide the relationship is going nowhere, rather than drag out the sense of being a couple through the holidays - end it and start the New Year with a renewed sense of purpose.

If you are going to have the talk, set the stage gently and do not try to ambush your guy just before walking into a party.  Perhaps, instead of having the talk, just ask him first if he has given any thought to the relationship.  Chances are that he will say, "No."  So drop it.

Then in a few weeks you might say that you are a little concerned and could he please hear you out.  Then be clear and direct: You are wondering if he is content with the relationship or should the two of you be dating others?  This may trigger just enough concern to start a dialogue.

When married couples have the talk

If you both have been struggling with your marriage for more than six months -- which is 5 months too long -- and issues have not resolved, it is probably too late for the talk but the right time for a marriage counselor. 

Michele Weiner-Davis of divorcebusting.com  -- who has spoken with me for my newspaper columns -- believes that even after infidelity a marriage can be saved:  

"But it takes teamwork and commitment from spouses willing to work hard at getting their marriages back on track. Re-establishing trust and finding ways to manage overwhelming painful emotions are key to the healing process."

The risk and ways to avoid the talk

The biggest risk with having the talk is this - you may lose.  If you find your man is on a different page, you may have to face facts and walk away.  While this may seem hurtful, it is better to walk away as friends than to go through the bitterness of unfulfilled, unspoken expectations that are yours, but not his.

Here are some thoughts on ways to avoid the talk altogether:

  • Say what is on your mind when you are troubled and concerned rather than waiting until the volcano erupts.
  • Be forgiving no matter who is at fault.
  • Set aside a time for a periodic relationship check-up - much like the six-month tune up on a car - he'll understand.
  • Adapt a sense of humor about your relationship and have fun with each other.

I checked in with the Beltway Bachelor on this one [Why men won't commit] and asked how guys feel about the question, "Where is this relationship going?"   He answered my question with the questions: "Why does it have to be going anywhere? Why can't it just be?"  

Copyright 2011 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved

Have you read these articles?

4 Steps to Gratitude in Happy Times or Sad Ones

Should Women Date Men Afraid to Commit?

Men's Top 4 Wishes and Why You Should Grant Them

5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Heartbreak

 

Rita Watson, MPH, is an Associate Fellow at Yale's Ezra Stiles College and a columnist for The Providence Journal.

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