I don’t know about other men, but one of the phrases I hated to hear my girlfriend say was, “We need to Talk.”
You could hear the capital T in the word and you knew this wasn’t going to be a fun conversation about the latest television show or what’s happening in the Olympics. I knew this was going to be a deep and long conversation; most likely involving me finding out I had done something, or many things, wrong. It seemed like a prelude to an argument and definitely didn’t put me in the mindset to work on my relationship. It was years later, before we began what I came to call Relationship Maintenance Conversations, or RMC’s.
I think everyone hates the “We have to talk” line. It’s like being called to the principal’s office. Now, I am a huge fan of healthy communication, in fact, I’m something of an intimacy junkie. However, there are ways to conduct conversations (particularly about potentially emotional topics) that are productive, and there are ways to go right off the rails. Starting with the invitation! I mean, how do you know WE need to talk? I might not need to talk. I might need a hot shower and dinner. If you want to enroll me in the conversation, tell me what you need and ASK if I’m available. Then, let’s find a time together that is optimal.
What is a Relationship Maintenance Conversation?
Much like an oil change keeps things going smooth in your car, the RMC helps your relationship with your loved one keep being great. Long before a behavior or thought can build up into something detrimental, an RMC can address the small things on a regular basis. These can be weekly or monthly, or just whenever a couple feels that their connection isn’t at peak performance and they want to strengthen it.
How does RMC differ from “the Talk”?
Like many things in life, differences are a point of view. People are often triggered by the phrase “We need to Talk.” It relates too closely to a disapproving parent or authority figure. This immediately puts a person on the defensive, feeling as if they, or their behavior, is about to be attacked. When a couple agrees to something together, like an RMC, it becomes collaborative and so both feel invested. Plan an RMC ahead of time; and it can be as simple as, “Do we have time after work?” or “Once the kids are in bed, rather than watch a movie, can we RMC?”
Another important distinction is that an RMC isn’t triggered by an event of negative impact, which is the emotional feel of a Talk. An RMC actually serves to encourage the voicing of feelings and thoughts and to prevent the buildup of resentments before they become problems.