Even though he or she is your best friend, sometimes it is hard to talk openly. Relationships go through waves of closeness and distance. Like waves in water, they are natural and often hard to manage when trying to keep your head above water. But, communication with your partner is a necessity whether the relationship is simply suffering due to lack of time together, busy schedules, an unresolved fight, or something more serious like infidelity, betrayal of trust, or crossing boundaries. And these conversations can be hard! When two people are on entirely different pages, sometimes its difficult to figure out which person should be reading and which should be moving to the other page. Here are a few therapist-recommended conversation starters for when a relationship needs mending:

 

One: Direction

The start of any conversation regardless of the stage of brokenness is what direction the other person is going and facing.

Ask your partner: Where do you see this relationship going? Where do you see this conversation going? Do you want us to continue? Is this something you want to fix? Where is your head, your heart, your mind?

Follow up: Simply listening to this answer without formulating a direct reply at first is essential. After giving room for your partner to answer and be heard: What brought you to this place? What is it that I can do to help you get to where you want to go?

 

Second: Vitality 

Being energized, life-filled, and excited. Vitality restores our social engagement system that takes the fear out of engaging with others. If I am trying to repair that, the more things that give me life, the more I like to live.

Ask your partner: What is the most alive time you have ever had in your life? Season? Activity?  In the past months? In the past week? Childhood?

Follow up with: What happened? Why don’t you do it? What can I do to help you get that again?

 

Third: Gratitude

Reminding oneself of what you are grateful for can add perspective, change perspective, and give insight into what one’s values are.

Ask your partner:  What are you most grateful for in your day? Something you experienced with your senses? Things that you have? Things in your job? Things in your closet? Things in your location? Things in your house? Things in our relationship? What are things that create space rather than restriction in your life?

Follow up with: Will you allow me to remind you of these things? What can I do to add things in your life for which you can be grateful? What would have made this day, month, year, relationship, etc. something you can be grateful for?