Communication is a vital part of what makes a relationship work. But unfortunately, sometimes it’s a little low on supply. Sometimes, a lack of communication is caused by circumstances. For example, both parties are exhausted after work and too tired to talk, or the extra challenging leg day at the gym has wiped you out.
However, sometimes the communication breakdown comes from the subject matter, which is a shame because no topic should discourage a conversation between a couple in a healthy relationship. So, what exactly are those taboo subjects that couples avoid but really shouldn’t? Thank you for asking…
1). Friends of the Opposite Sex
If you ask any married couple, half will agree with opposite-sex friends, and the other half will immediately put the kibosh on that idea.
This can be a tricky subject. When a person commits to a relationship, they should discuss opposite-gender friendships and ensure that the boundaries are clearly defined.
These parameters should include face-to-face interactions AND all forms of communication in general, including texts, chats, DMs, and social media.
Money is another challenging subject. According to recent studies, only four out of 10 couples discuss their financial goals and standings. Unfortunately, not having a money conversation can be a recipe for disaster.
So before combining finances, you’ll want to know their credit history, outstanding bills, and whether or not they previously declared bankruptcy. This helps to see if you’re on the same financial path. If not, what can you do to get on the same track?
Your discussions about finances should be deliberate instead of accidentally popping up in a conversation. It would help if you discussed topics including the following:
- spending habits
- possible future expenditures
3). Past Relationships
Did you know past relationships can reveal a lot about an individual? Often, people date a particular type of person regarding looks and personality. Unfortunately, past exes can also bring up resentment and insecurity.
When discussing past relationships, focus more on the general rather than the details. This is the best way to handle the topic. Understand that the past relationship discussion aims to nurture and strengthen your current relationship and not make your partner feel jealous or insecure.
For example, you don’t want to tell your current partner that you only used to date strong, bodybuilder types, but you don’t any longer.
Likewise, guys, don’t say things like, you always dated hot girls, but they were so shallow, so you don’t anymore. Can you see how these statements sound?
4). Career Goals
Openly discuss your and your partner’s professional goals and aspirations. Today, it’s common for households to contain a dual-career couple. Due to this, it’s crucial to manage your relationship while pursuing your personal and career goals.
When your goals don’t sync up, it can cause chaos in the household. Find a sweet spot where you can both pursue your professional goals while still making time for your partner’s needs and maintaining a healthy relationship.
Tips for planning your career together
When considering their career path, most people rarely mention their partner or spouse. Typically, they discuss their careers as separate entities from their relationship. However, the two go hand-in-hand. Here are some quick tips on how to plan your careers together.
Discuss your plans regularly
Schedule at least one hour each month to talk to your spouse about your careers and nothing else. Listen and comprehend how each of you thinks about your respective goals.
What’s your definition of success
Not everyone’s definition is the same. You may see success as meeting financial goals to buy a new car and a big house on the hill. Your partner may see it as making enough to pay the bills. Therefore, you both are working toward two different goals.
We often hear what our partner is saying, but we need to listen to what they say. Listening implies you’re taking in the information and processing it.
Don’t hold back. Put it all out there
This isn’t the time to hold back. When having a discussion, be clear on what your goals are. For example, tell them that you want to work toward a boat. If you’re not honest and upfront, you may cause future resentment because your partner thinks one thing, but you’re working toward another.
Know and understand your values
Many times, couples believe they know their partner’s values, but more often than not, this isn’t the case.
For example, he believes calling off work to take a mental health day is ok. But, on the other hand, she thinks the only days you should have off are when you’re sick and on weekends (and sometimes not even on the weekends.)
He clocks out at five and doesn’t log in until the next work day. She may clock out at five but clocks in again at seven to do some OT. She sees nothing wrong with continuing to work, but he views it as overkill. On the other hand, she considers his work ethic lacking. There needs to be more understanding of each others’ values here.
This is where miscommunication can start and why it’s vital to understand your partner’s values regarding their career goals.
Write out your goals
Maybe you’ve previously discussed your goals, but that was years ago. As a result, your or your partner’s aspirations may have changed, and you didn’t even realize it.
Spend an hour to check in and see whether the goals you created six months ago are still the same. Then, grab a pen and paper and write out what you expect to achieve in the next year, two years, five years, and so on.
List all of your goals, including your:
- career goals
- health and fitness goals
- financial goals
- family goals, etc
Each of you spend at least 30 minutes sharing your goals. First, carefully listen to your spouse’s goals, so you know what they believe is important. Then, consider how you can help each other meet your goals.
Create a budget for career development
In some fields, you may need to keep learning to meet your goals. This means attending classes or schooling to become certified in a particular area. Sometimes, the company pays employees to attend graduate school or become licensed in a specific field. But other times, companies only pay a percentage or nothing at all.
If you need to, add these expenses to your household budget. Include items like:
- career coaching
- master’s programs
Money discussions can be difficult for some couples. After all, it is the number one reason for divorce, so treat the topic with kid gloves. If the conversations become too challenging, consider outside help from a money coach or counselor.
5). Styles of Communication
People use different styles of communication. For example, one person may be comfortable blurting things out directly, while another may be more reserved.
Another individual may be the type to talk in higher volumes of detail, while others may be more comfortable sharing what is only necessary. While understanding people’s communication styles varies, it is key to a healthy and respectful relationship.
6). Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
Yes, let’s talk about s-e-x and sexual compatibility. This is a big topic because many are unsure and often intimidated by the subject.
What is the best way to guide the discussion on this highly sensitive topic? The simple answer is; to dive in and just discuss it.
Sexual compatibility is an ongoing process and needs to be adjusted as needed. It’s also not an individual thing. So not only do you need to be comfortable with your sexual needs, but you also need to make sure your partner’s desires are met.
Years of togetherness, maturity and life events may impact your views on sexuality. If you notice your partner’s drive changes (increasing or decreasing), it may be time for a frank discussion.
If you like sitcoms, you understand that TV couples struggle with extended family, in-laws, and relatives. However, unlike a TV comedy, you can’t solve your issue in an hour or less. The best way to deal with family pressures is to understand and respect that no two people are the same.
For example, your mother doesn’t react as your mother-in-law does in certain situations. There are no right and wrong methods, just different ways to solve a problem.
The key is to set healthy boundaries and express them to your spouse, who can then discuss them with their family, as you will with yours.
The rules need to apply to everyone and not just a few. What do you expect from your family and your in-laws when they visit? Make the rules clear, so there are no misunderstandings.
It’s the habits and personality quirks that make us unique individuals. For example, you may bite your nails. Your spouse may snort when they laugh. Some of these habits are why we’re drawn to our partners in the first place.
Then there are the other habits. Dunh, dunh, dunh!
Those are the annoying clipping-your-toenails-at-the-kitchen-table habit that drives you nuts. In these cases, the best thing to do is to be honest without offering judgment. In other words, DO NOT bring up their annoying habits in the heat of an argument because it will not go well. Instead, calmly say something to your partner. Otherwise, you will not get the results you’re looking for.
It’s important to pick your battles. Before mentioning your partner’s annoying quirk, decide whether it’s worth bringing up. If not, it may be something you can let slide. But if it is worth a conversation, and you want to see results, again, discuss it when calm.
9). Keep an Open Mind
Discussing these taboo topics isn’t so cut and dry. You may need to alter the approach to tailor the conversation to fit your personality. For example, some marriages will look at this list and think, These topics aren’t taboo at all. Other couples may find only a few that are considered taboo
- Never want their ideas challenged
- Frustrated they can’t get the other person to agree with them
- Always make statements but rarely ask questions
- Focus more on being understood than on understanding others
- Block others from speaking
- Have trouble holding two thoughts simultaneously
- Lack a deep sense of humility
- Always sees themselves as teaching but never learning
- More curious about why there is a disagreement
- Understand there is a possibility that they may be wrong
- Ask questions that are genuine
- Feel compelled to see the other side through the eyes of others
- They understand when to make statements and when to ask questions
- They can listen to the thoughts of others without losing the ability to think
- Approach everything with the thinking that they could possibly be wrong
- They assess the conversation to see if their role should be as a student or a teacher
10). Chores around the House
Along with sex, this is another big topic. Decades ago, the expectations were clear. The husband goes to work, while the wife tends to the children and all household chores, including cooking, laundry, and cleaning.
Roles have changed. As previously stated, most U.S. households are two-income, so women work as many hours as men. But are they still expected to cook, clean, and tend to the children? I think not.
Set up who does what around the house. Cleaning has become easier with modern technology, but someone still needs to do it. Additionally, agree on what “clean” means. For example, one person’s clean isn’t necessarily another’s.
For example, does “doing the dishes” mean rinsing, putting into the dishwasher, and turning it on? For someone else doing the dishes also includes emptying the dishwasher and putting the dishes in the cupboards. If you can’t reach a middle ground, set aside room in the budget for a housekeeper.
The important takeaway to consider is for both parties to listen with the intent to understand what the other needs to keep the marriage a well-oiled machine. Also, speak honestly and clearly about your needs. This will result in better communication and will ultimately lead to a happy and successful marriage.