How to Create a Safe Space to have the Tough Conversations with your Partner

A tough conversation with your partner is one where you are bringing up a sensitive topic.

You are worried that your partner would get upset or feel hurt. You may have been tolerating and accepting their habits or behaviours for a long time and now you’re realising that this isn’t working out for you. In the previous post, I had discussed creating the foundation within yourself. Today let’s look at ‘setting the stage’, before the tough conversation begins.


Every situation is unique and you may need to consider and communicate matters that may not be listed below. However I’d like to give you a basic roadmap that I used, while navigating the tougher roads with my partner, in hopes that this helps you to begin creating a safe space for yourself too.


(1) The best time to have a tough conversation

The best time to communicate your needs to your partner may come after your first (or second) conflict. By then you have the experience to help you understand what you’re ok with and what you’re not. Here are some of the things that I learnt for myself:

I prefer that the conversations:
does not happen late at night
happens when we are not intoxicated with alcohol
happen when I’m not feeling exhausted.

In order for both of you to have the conversation at the ‘best’ time, one of the ways to begin is to invite your partner to the conversation you’re wanting to have. Do not spring the topic onto your partner, with a surprise. Catching your partner off guard, does not give you any advantage. Instead you can say…

“I want to talk to you about (topic) … is now a good time? or when would be a good time for us to talk?”
You can add things like… “It’s important to me that we set aside time to talk about this. When can we do that?”


(2) The relationship space

Imagine an altar. You go there to pray. At times it is a physical space. At times, it is the space in your heart, or the sacred temple of your body. The altar is universally honoured and respected. It is not a space where you go to vandalise the walls. It is a space where you go to listen within yourself, to reconnect with a higher power, to feel the light within you.

There’s a space that you embody in the relationship. Your partner takes up a space too. The both of you create a ‘relationship space’. Source is you, within you, reflected in your partner and surrounds you in this relationship space.

Elizabeth Peru recently spoke of ‘sacred partnership’ with the Universe in 2018. I love that phrase and I’m applying it to relationships. The space that you share with your partner, is sacred. How your partner responds or reacts to you, is not a condition to how you perceive the space between you. No matter what happens, whether there is a breakdown, rage, or forgiveness… this space continues to be a sacred one.

The relationship space with your partner is a reflection of the sacred relationship you have with yourself.


(3) Ask for what you need

Asking for what you need is scary – and only you can give yourself the permission to do exactly that.

Some of the things that I’ve communicated to my partner is:
Most of the time, you see the bigger picture faster than I do. I need you to help me walk there so that I can see it too.
I need for us to not point fingers at each other (or blame) or raise our voice when talking.
Listen to me first, without jumping in to explain, to fix or solve the problem.

One of the things that he told me early on… was not to hang up the phone on him.

When you ask for what you need, you are allowing yourself to be vulnerable. You are also communicating your boundaries with your partner. Before you can do this, you’ll need to get clear on what you need to feel safe within yourself, and around your partner.


(4) Express feelings honestly

Give each other the permission to express your innermost feelings. Often when you feel afraid to speak your truth and share what you’re truly feeling… this is exactly how your partner may be feeling at times too.

Reminding myself that my partner is only human, helps me to put away my expectations and speak to him at the same level, instead of sitting on a pedestal and complain about what I am not happy about. This helps me to have an actual conversation, a two way exchange. Speak, pause, listen, pause.

By communicating this to my partner, it paved the way for me to communicate my fears about having the tough conversation with him.

During the early stages of our relationship, I fell back on questioning the stability of our relationship whenever we had a disagreement – it hurt the both of us in our hearts. This was a powerful turning point of our relationship as we both communicated our commitment to each other and our relationship; that no matter what happens, we are in it for the long run; that when we disagree with each other, we are not disagreeing about having a relationship with each other.


The most important thing is to take time to consider if your partner is safe for you to be vulnerable with. Should you need someone to help you facilitate a tough conversation between you and your partner, please seek professional help where you live.


PS: If you’d like support with prompts and accountability, join my group Flow of Appreciation where we have reflective practices that will help to shift your important relationships in your life. . I’ll see you inside the circle!



Moving Past the Story behind your Trigger, to Reconnect with your Partner

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued – Brene Brown

On a Friday evening, while having a cold beer, I was playing a game of charades with my partner. We were excited, it was a lot of fun! Then he said something… “you’ll need to describe with more specifics; not too general”. He said this a few times.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I shut down. I disconnected from touching him.

I told him that “it’s so hard to play, it’s no fun when you keep telling me to be better.”
He said, I didn’t use that word, “better”.

Let’s slow it down right here for a moment.


I was triggered in a simple game of charades. I felt shamed and vulnerable, so I disconnected. I disconnected because my defence mechanism kicked in and I wanted to protect myself from feeling more hurt. It wasn’t because of what he said – it was because of the story I was making up in my head, about what he said.

The story went like this – you need to be better, you’re not good enough.


When you are triggered, you feel your emotions strongly. Sometimes the emotions are overwhelming and they blind you. Sometimes the emotions drive you to protect yourself or hurt the other person so that you can feel better about them hurting you in the first place.

The real reason your emotions are coming up so strongly, is because of the story that you’re telling yourself in your head about what happened to you or what was said to you.

Sometimes these stories have their roots in your childhood. These emotions belong to your younger self, a time when the trigger was formed, a belief about the world and people was formed, to keep you safe.


The next time you feel triggered…

(1) Slow down, pause and ask yourself:
what is the story that I’m making up in my head?

(2) Do a reality check-in with yourself:
Is this true right now (of this situation)?
What do I know to be true right now?

This practice creates a way for you to listen within to your story (of shame or hurt) and embrace your vulnerability. It helps you to keep your heart open and stop a cold war with your partner.


The moment I realised what I heard wasn’t actually what he said, I felt like I had antennas in my head going up in alert mode. My body felt triggered – still wanting to disconnect to keep me safe. Yet the very thing I really needed to feel safe in my relationship – is connection. Connection within myself – to my body, to my soul and connection with my partner.

My partner then taught me how to be specific in describing and I began practicing with him. We went through a couple of rounds and I picked up the technique of being more specific in my descriptions. The game was starting to feel fun again, as the burnt feeling inside of ‘needing to be better’ faded away. I was able to lean in closer to him, allowing our bodies to touch and hold his hand again.


There was a deeper lesson that I learnt that day; one that my partner asked for me to stay open to listen and receive – that negative comments and criticism would be coming my way on this path of life and I get to make the decision if I will let them affect me or not.

The thing is… this thought or belief of ‘needing to be better’ came up previously in my work. It only caught my attention in my relationship with my partner. The relationship space is a safe space for me to acknowledge my feelings, practice challenging my unhelpful thoughts and cross the bridge that I was standing on to reconnect with my partner.


“How you do one thing, is how you do everything”. You can use your ‘relationship space’, the space and connection that you share with your partner, to raise your awareness, to challenge your thoughts and beliefs and practice making changes – and these changes will have a ripple effect on other areas of your life as well!


Do you recall an incident that you’ve experienced an emotional trigger too? Share your experience with me below!


PS: If you’d like support to work through your emotional triggers, join my group Flow of Appreciation where we have daily practices that will help to shift your important relationships in your life. I’ll see you inside the circle!