My husband and I have a pretty good marriage, but when it comes to certain topics we seem to go from 0-60 in nothing flat, every time. Before we can get to the heart of the matter he’s saying, “I can’t talk with you about this right now.” Or “You’re just being irrational.” Or even, “I’m tired (or I’ve had a long day at work), can we talk about this later?” But later never comes and I feel like I’m constantly begging him to revisit these issues with me. How can I get him to finish a conversation?

Well, think of you both as having two different, but equally important, roles in the relationship.  In these moments, you are the Resolution Seeker and he is the Peace Keeper. Both jobs serve a purpose and yet they can be at odds with each other. When you’re discussing a tough issue, and things begin to escalate, you may be the one pushing hardest to  “make your case,” to be understood, to come to some sort of decision or resolution or compromise.  You might even feel at times like you’re so close to the breakthrough that this will ultimately bring you closer together.

He, on the other hand, sees your raised voice , the pressured speech, and the animated gestures as indications, warning signs, that a fight is about to  erupt . As such, he fears continuing the discussion. He tries to “pump the breaks,” cool things down and attempts to stop the conversation by shaming you (i.e., “You’re too emotional”), by leaving the room (i.e., “I need to get the kids to bed”), or by changing the subject ((i.e., “Can we talk about this later?”).  The problem is this very likely leaves you feeling frustrated or, worse yet, dismissed or rejected.

The good news is there’s a simple FIVE STEP PROCESS for these moments that works extremely well for both the Resolution Seeker and the Peace Keeper.  In our next column we will spell it out.  Stay tuned!