E3: How To Have Crucial Conversations With Your Spouse & Step-Kids


Crucial Conversations - Podcast

In this episode, Daun and Travis talk about how to navigate sensitive topics with your spouse, partner, or significant other in the context of the blended family. Crucial conversations involve any communication needed where emotions run high, stakes are high and opinions differ. This can include how to discipline step-kids, conversations around money, talking about finances, sex, and lots more. Crucial conversations are not only conversations that happen with your partner but can happen with your boss, employee, children, or parents.

Navigating crucial conversations requires adulting. To help with this, we’ve provided a Worksheet on our website that you can download when a crucial conversation is in order. https://blendedpathways.comm/resources

Want to join the Fierce Intimacy Marriage Connection? Come see us over on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/fierceintimacy or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fierce_Intimacy

If you’d like to watch on video, you can catch us on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwiREhjQyeDIp9MAYXfjfzg

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 Read The Transcript

Well, minutes. Sorry about that. Hello. Welcome to our live number three. This is the third episode at the marriage coach. The marriage dot dawn. Here he comes. Wait. Aren’t those your glasses. Well, those are my old glasses. My glasses. I’m waiting for glasses. There we go. Hey, awesome. Welcome to our third live. Already Said that. But here we are. Look at this. We’re getting like this like professional setup. If you guys can see, we’ve got like this ring light and two cameras and microphones, Right? We’re getting there.

We’re getting like professional, something like that. Right? So the deal was we decided that we felt like this is what we needed to be doing. There’s the coffee, not just making these videos, but actually, and trying to help people people help couples make it different. Yes. And then Elliott. All right. Yes. There. Yeah. Trying to help couples improve their lives. Uh, and the relationship and mm hmm. Well, I we’ve both been through divorce and our kids do that. Hopefully more of that. Um, so yeah, that’s that’s what we’re doing.

We’re all these horrible no, all these mistakes that we’ve made. And so we thought, hey, you know, what can we do to give back? Do we have all the answers? No, but we can tell you what we did wrong for sure. And we research study a lot. Um, and we both do our own counseling and we’re both in school together. Well, I’m not there yet, but I will be, I’m on my way. So, um, yeah, we just want to be able to give back to people and we’d love to hear you guys comments and questions and we will give it a shot to answer right, relationships are family difficult but how they don’t know exactly should be really rewarding.

It’s really easy. That that would be the goal. I mean everybody keeps right and we all keep getting married, we all keep finding a significant other and so why do we if the point is not to be in a relationship, why do humans here we are? That is the dilemma. We keep doing it. Therefore we must learn to get better right because the whole, you know wash and rinse eat. So yeah, it really does, it really does. So today we are talking about having crucial conversations. Yes.

Is this a this is a crucial conversation but it could be, it could be considered a crucial conversation. Could be. So what is the crucial conversation? Well, if you hand me my little paper more paper here is your paper. So crucial conversations as a book. It’s actually crucial conversations tools for talking when stakes are high by Kerry, patterson, joseph, Greenie, Ron Mcmillan and elsewhere. Mhm Like Twizzlers but with an S. Okay, so and what they found is that there’s a whole bunch of defining moments in life from conversations as they create significant shifts in attitudes and behavior be the goal.

So the others few things that The three things for right conversation is that emotions are high emotions are high stakes are high. We’re supposed to know this. Don’t you write this? Staff opinions differ. That’s right. The stakes are high emotions are high opinions differ. That’s where we get. Well, no, that’s not. Sometimes we have differing opinions. Your opinion is my opinion, right? No, your opinion is my opinion. Just like your money is my money and my money is my money. Did you get that? That’s not that’s not good.

Don’t listen to that. Okay. So um, so crucial conversations are ones where um, there’s emotions involved. People are people, the people in the conversation are very tied the outcome of the conversation and when we are another, it’s a conversation where there’s going to be some sort of action out of that station like things direction that one or more of participate tape. That’s right. So examples could be things um job Exactly. Yeah. Um well yeah, it’s february tune in because we’re gonna talk about sex baby but but not today, not today, but yeah, so that’s kind of where things go and I know you guys all know stakes are high and it doesn’t me to be like extremely high for like the whole relationship just for you.

You know, if it’s very important to you then the stakes are high. So let’s talk about. I mean you just shared some examples run sense. But what are some crucial conversations that blended families when individuals in the blood need to watch out for not to watch out for to avoid, but crucial conversations that generally come up in the context of London. Well one that jumps out is um, who’s going to be displayed how how are the kids going to Right? So we have like with us where we have our system is that we’re each responsible for discipline kids.

However, yeah, we’re not around then too. It’s one of the other, however, we have also talked extensively about expectations about discipline. So there’s parameters around what that’s Children and for the most part we tried to those similar so that the house right? Obviously you have kids at different ages that are going to the other parent’s house and there’s different rules of the other parent’s house. And so the better that we can be together parents in the blended together. So crystal conversation about discipline. Right? So I have so that’s good.

We can give an so another crucial would be household chores. Right? And that’s something that’s not just that is any couple. Right? And so that’s something where there’s or high when how All right, responsible for what? How do we get everything done? Like um, is the cooks responsibility to clean up or is the cooks responsibility to cook and then whoever eats and enjoys the cooks food their responsibility or is it, you know, if you see something that needs to be done just do it or is it I mean Yeah, whole bunch, I can’t go that way and those can all be really high stress, high emotion.

Especially if you like, one of the things that I did, I grew up and my mom when I was growing up, I haven’t grown up yet. When I was growing up, there always seemed to be a pile of dishes in the sink and over really started to get on me and now I can’t go more than a day or so seeing dishes in the sink, but I have to be washed in the dishwasher, one of the two. So, and I just take it upon myself. I don’t blame anybody for that because I put dishes too, right.

Um, but in the mornings I get up. If I see unload the dishwasher unload, it just kind of goes from. But that’s just my own personal thing. Haven’t even shared that with Dawn. That’s just something I’ve been doing. I think that brings up a good point. And the point is that avoiding crucial before they get to be crucial is a great way to not have to have so many crucial conversations. Right? So that brings us back to. And so it brings us back also to what we were talking about last week when we’re talking about adults in your relations and taking responsibility for how you feel and for expressing what you mean, desires are in a positive way, right?

So doing that can avoid all sorts of conversations where, where your emotions are not going to be high. The stakes might be high, but your emotions won’t. Right. So yeah, that’s that’s and that you can actually get a lot more than done. Not. Yeah. Take a step back and Jeff respond react. Right? Right. So another example of crucial conversations and we’ll get into how to have a but we just another a crucial conference. What? And when it is conversations with Children. Oh yeah. Right. Especially when you have teenagers, right?

Or you have kids that are moving in to be or you have young adults. Young adults. Oh, that’s fun. I had one last night. Okay. No. So because our kids might watch this. So crucial conversations with Children are quite often something come up, especially like teenagers or when they are right. And they have their own opinion. Kids about what they think should happen. And naturally their emotions are running high because they’re kids and the stakes are high because neither one of, of people in the conversation, them nor the parents wants to give in on what they think about take the issue the what?

Right. So a crucial conversation with a child. Okay. Yeah. So we have I my daughter is 14 and a recent conversation um was he wanted huh. And so part of the deal with that was that she had agreed to not only purchase for them built her own money built up as she had a summer job money in the bank. Um and so was that she was going to take responsibility for the pets careful like the kid job dumb and she agreed and all was great. It was perfect.

We got the pets and they’re here now. Um there they are ferrets. If you’ve never had ferrets to decide fun, go to the bathroom law. So in the corner. Anyway, so the crucial conversation was with my daughter. Alright, well you’re not keeping up your end of the bargain on taking care of you want to, right? So if you would like to pay someone else to be able to take care of those things for you, so you don’t have to because it’s so much, I’m happy to do that for you.

It’s going to cost you $5 for cleaning up. I’m sorry, $10 for cleaning up the cage and $10 to babysit for the week that you’re gone and she just did not think that that was acceptable. And I got really emotional and he was like, well why do I, why should I have to pay for anything? And you know, why should I have to pay for this? Why should I have to do that? You’re just going to take all my money and throw the animals throw them over the fence because they’re just too much work.

So that would be an example of crucial conversations because the stakes were high in that she’s either going to pay for this or we’re going to get rid of the pets or, and she is emotional about it and I’m frustrated. So their emotions are high and the opinions differ. She feels that it’s a normal course of parenting to take care of her for her. And I don’t feel that it is right. Especially when we had this discussion about the pets, like how much character, right? Yeah. Wait it out that you are so right.

So what did that look like for how we, how we approach? Right. So, I would say, first of all, you and I had an extensive conversation about what we expect from right here and from each other in regards to that particular issue, Right? Right. Like for instance, you actually kind of enjoyed the right and you wouldn’t mind keeping them, but we don’t want to keep them in our room, that’s fine. No, no. And you’re like, I couldn’t really care less. They can go or they can stay, right?

But they’re not going to be in our room very soon. So because they have a very unique yes. But they’re so cute. Anyway, so we first get together and have a conversation about how we are we going to approach this? Right? And then we discuss are we going to approach this together with her or is it a better conversation for just parrot to be involved in that conversation, right? In this particular case, we decided that together was because it’s our house and it’s her pets. So next step we decided that and then we decided, okay, well we’re gonna sit her down at a opportune time.

Now on that one, we made a mistake because we did not choose a time that would have given us enough time to be able to really delve into it. It was during a short amount of time where Yeah. Right. So that’s another part of having crucial conversations and setting aside an appropriate amount of time and space. Have those. But aside from that, so we sit down with her and and how start, how do you start? Will first you start with the heart. So like look, I we understand that you like you wanted these okay, you really want to pass because everybody seemed to have pads felt left out.

Yeah, yeah. However you said that you were going to, right? I think another thing about starting from the heart is sharing your personal parents. So, you know, I really enjoy having this pet or having these pets and spirits. Um, and I want you to be happy and I also want you to learn how to have ability. And so it actually is stressful on me. I’m telling my daughter that we need to have this conversation because I don’t really want to have this conversation. I just want you to do what you said you work on do.

And so I think that that starting from the heart is a mutual understanding, this is what the other person’s desire is and trying to understand that other person, intense thinking or remembering that both intents are good. It’s just the subject at pan that needs to be sorted out, have empathy, you know, So we understand that she was not um feeling and leo included with everybody else because but he also had a pet. You have Elliot, let’s have a bunny. Um got adopted. Yes, so I have everybody else.

So so but then you come in with a positive intent. So we’re trying to for about responsibility, you know what that means? So how would that look different from? Right? So we’re talking about parenting is crucial. So between spouses partner, what would that look like? As far as approaching it, where you’re starting? Wow, that’s a good right? Because parenting is you can you can separate yourself as a parent and say okay I’m the parent in this case and you’re the child, I’m responsible. Therefore I say this is ultimately how it’s go right in a relationship with your spouse or your significant other, you have no authority over them and vice versa or at least you shouldn’t and vice versa. Right?

So okay, so let’s actually use the parents, the pets situation as an example. So if I am looking at the situation, I’m like she’s not taking spirits, you know letting them go, she just tossing, doing this, doing that. Um she’s not cleaning up the poop for the, when they go to the bathroom, all this other stuff and now I’m I’m getting frustrated because I’m seeing, you know, a nice house, you know, and you’re frustrated with me because I’m not upholding responsibility. Right? Right. So I would come and say look to me.

Yes, it looked on, I I understand that you don’t want to hide, I don’t want to upset your daughter too much. So, um but there’s some things that needed, okay, because I can’t keep walking around and stepping on therapy. No. Um so we need the start accountable or you need to hold her accountable if you’re not comfortable with missing. Okay. So what are you saying? I don’t hold my kids accountable? Well you don’t hold them accountable about as much as I don’t hold my kids. Oh, right.

So we both have an issue with that. We do, right? Do you see how that works? So that is how those conversations can go. Right? So, um so starting with the heart as far as identifying and having with the direction that I have, which is I love my daughter. I want her to be happy. I want to teach her responsibility. And so you’re coming to the conversation. I understand these, here’s where I’m having, right? So how can we work on that together? Right? So once you have started with the heart, then the next step would state or to establish a common purpose.

Is that right? So, um, you want to keep the conversation going with what it is started. So we don’t want to get sidetracked into. Okay, I’m saying, look, um, they’ve got ferrets, scoop all over the place. I just would like to the you’re saying, well, you’re saying I’m not holding her responsible. What about your kids? Well, we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about, right? So, the problem at hand that we’re trying to solve is that X, y. Z is happening and we need to figure out how to solve that.

I’m not judging you based on your end. Let’s mutually solve problem. Right? So, I think we’re a lot of these conversations can go off track is when you already have in your relations have not addressed. And so now you have resentments that are built up in the relationship. And so that causes On one or both parties. And now you have a conversation way over there when the whole point was to make sure that there is not poop on the floor, right? Keep it safe. Right? You know, if you if you’ve got unresolved things that you think might be triggering something or triggering emotions might need to take a step back and address those things first, before you start right with the problem at hand. Right?

So then that goes back to again, adult ng in your relationship, which is taking responsibility for my own feelings about this? Okay, well, I feel like he is attacking okay now, I’m going to say, okay, I can’t talk about that right now, I need to process that. But let’s talk about it again later this evening tomorrow. So in that time frame then it’s withdrawing from the conversation, examining what’s going on in my head and asking those questions. Is that true? Does he consistently attack? Is there unfairness in how his expectations of my kids and me or versus my him and his kids?

And so it’s taking that time to actually stay focused. Like you were saying on the problem at hand and all other issues offline station about those because the primary issue is we’re solving this together as a team. I’m coming to you because I have a concern with this. How can we resolve it together? And that’s the point, which yeah. And you actually just so the next couple of things, we don’t want to get hooked on emotion and that’s stepping back and um taking some time to look within figure out why you’re getting upset or why they might be getting up right, both sides agreeing on a mutual purpose, which is okay.

We both want the americans, right? Right? Because you know, in that case, whatever issue it is, I very well may agree with my significant other that there is an issue with this. And so again, it’s about having a safe space and container for that one issue and other issues out of that container. And if that can be done and you can’t resolve them by taking time. I mean, and you probably need to get some therapy as far as what does that look like? Why am I not able to let go of things or why is my partner not able to let go of these things?

Why can’t we have a functional conversation with about a problem that needs solved without it blowing up in do something else? Anything? Right, Okay. So the next one is separating facts story which goes along with what we’ve just been talking about, write the story. I’m telling myself in my head in that conversation is you don’t care about how I want to parent my daughter and you don’t know her and I’ve been with her her whole life. And so you don’t really understand the thing she struggles with and so you’re just being a big jerk and and you just don’t want you know, just you just want what you want.

Big head. You’re being doo doo head. So it’s again coming back All right. And and also something to be aware of is if you find yourself saying you always or you never or things like always and never are keywords that okay. And you might be embellishing things a little bit and you’re kind of not sticking with the fact, right? That is definitely not. No, because always and never Right. Right? That’s right. And so that is part of the story that you’re telling yourself in order to emotionally hook the other person.

You are always trying to tell me that I’m not parents, you never do that with your kids. So those are words that need to be watched out for not only words, if you are saying those words, but if your partner is saying those things to you, then it’s time to take a step back and say, okay, wait a minute, this is not fact, this is not working, right? And this conversation isn’t going anywhere right now. Yes, right. And it may be again that you have to separate out and say, okay, this always never issue is something we also need to talk about, but it’s not something we’re going to talk about in the context of trying to solve the problem of having ferret poop on the floor, because there’s always ferret poop on the floor, right?

Right? Exactly. And so taking that time apart and be like, I’m not going let’s not discuss this right now, because emotions are too high. So, let’s both recollect set issues that need to be resolved that have spun off of this into other conversations and come back just on this, because ultimately, those problems that we have most of the time are not as huge as we think they are. They’re not the facts. They’re part of the story. The story. The story of the relationship is not about the one thing that there’s poop on the floor, Right?

Right. Right. About everything, But mind and the the individual ego, the ego, the ego takes a look at things the and they pick up little things and I’m like, oh, okay. So and that and that always happens. You never I mean, that’s just something that’s always going on in the head. And you need to be able to separate ego story from the right, or the adopted child from the adults. Right. Right. Because adults don’t get into conversations that go in circles, they say, okay, this is not productive.

How can we resolve this? Right? So that goes into the last part, which is agree on a clear action, Right? So whether that, I’m sorry, whether that action plan is we’re going to take a break from this conversation and in the meantime, or I will have I will arrange for until we can come back and make a decision about it. That is clear emotional face or which for us, what we did was we were like, okay, So yeah, this is not being an these guidelines. So, these rules are not being adhered to, then it’s good, cost your daughter some money. Right?

And where we came up with that, which is a whole side note that goes into disciplining is where we came up with that is what happens when you don’t clean up your stop when you’re an adult, Well, you have to pay somebody else to clean it up for you or you’re going to be charged if you have Children and you don’t want you can’t watch them because you have something else to do. Then you pay a babysitter. If you can’t or don’t want to change their diapers, you pay someone to change their diapers.

You have need to use something That doesn’t belong to you. Then you rent it. And so it was a way for us to then go back to the conversation with her and say, this is what happens when you’re an adult. Therefore we will take what happens when you’re an adult and make it small enough for you to handle. So that will cost you $5 And that will cost you $10 and make it match where she’s at for her budget, but still make it painful enough that she learns from. Yes.

And with that also is we also looked at what motivates that’s true the kids with her and that is for her it happens to be money is a great motivator because she wants the car soon and she wants to be able to do things and buy clothes. So yes, she has to pay us to take care of. All right. It’s not right. That is correct. So in that crucial conversation, the agreed upon action. Okay, daughter, this is what’s going to happen. Does that seem reasonable to you?

She’s like, no, it doesn’t seem reasonable. But within three days it’s reasonable. Right. And then in our crucial conversation about that, again, like you said, we agree on what is an action plan going forward that resolves this issue. Because the whole conversation about one issue and it’s about keeping the converse, having those converts to the issue and setting aside a motion for another conversation. Where are those emotions coming if you’re saying that I always this or never? That that is a different conversation. That how do we make it?

Right. Right. Right. And and that actually brings up something else that you said you brought up to me and I had the same problem. It’s like actually following through with those things. So we keep each other accountable. So if um my kids are being disrespectful and rude and stuff like that, then I or I take away their electrical devices. Yeah, but I might be, I’m so used to kind of letting things slide. So I need reminders the hate talk about and I’ll be like, oh that’s right, hey, guess what?

You’re in time out right now. And so I think, you know, that’s a whole nother subject in and of itself supporting one another in a blended and where the lines are. But definitely those are crucial conversations have. Yes, that was that was our crucial conversation about how to disappear kids and what we needed to work on with each kid. There was a link. Yes, it was. And emotions do run high because we’re talking about these are our kids. These are separate kids. Yes, I care about your kids and I love your kids and I treat them exactly like I do my kids, but ultimately then they’re your kids, right?

And you are responsible for your kids and vice versa. So, um crucial conversations come up in all sorts of ah places I really think that he is too separate to come at conversations with and two separate emotions fact as much as possible and the adult enough to be able to focus on the facts. And if you have emotional, okay to have those, it’s not that it’s not okay, it’s just that when you are having a crucial conversation, letting your emotions overtake the conversation unproductive and it doesn’t result in getting closure on items so that you, right, Right?

So as much as you can take the emotions out, you know, and if you find your emotions high, say so, hey, I need to step back because I’m starting to feel because I’m starting to feel angry. Well whatever. So I need to take a step back When we come take a time out, come back in 30 minutes sir, I’ll come back this evening and stuff like that and this happened even in work, do this then, you know, when junior employee or whatever, talking to your mom’s or vice versa, step back and say, hey, um I understand you really want to get some, some of this resolved right now my emotions are running really high.

Can I come back in 15 minutes talk about this and I think that that really does and this is why last to me because in relation it really does all revolve along, right? It’s about taking responsibility for who you are and what you want from your relationship like and being willing to honestly express where you’re at and what you and also respect the other person as an right, do things for your Yes, because that’s what adults do. They take care of themselves. Right? Absolutely. And you can’t take care of anybody else.

No, you can’t. Me too. There were So Alright, so that was episode three guys. So we are going to be putting out a resource for you on this particular episode that is going to follow up. Do you? Have we got it already? It’s no, I don’t. It’s a worksheet that you can work on personally or with your significant other and we’ll put a link down below, yep, and you can print it out or you can fill it out just there electronically. Again, you can do it by yourself, you can do it with your significant other, you do it with a friend, whatever, wherever you’re looking at having crucial conversations, how to have those and so we will put that out and then we are also going to be putting these out on youtube now, not just facebook Lives.

The whole goal was just start, Just start. And we started and we’re on three. Yeah, yeah. So we may be changing the days that these come out too. But yeah, we’ll let you know the other thing is that these are going to be available on podcast. So we’ll be doing up the audio on that. We would love to be able to have people on podcast with us to be able to have real conversations call in, ask questions. We’ll talk about it. We’ll talk about, we’ll talk talk it through.

Love to hear from you guys comments questions whatever you want to tell us. I am working on the ego thing. No, we’re fine. So anyway, um, that’s it, I think. Right. Okay, so leave questions and comments below and we’ll see you next week. Bye guys.

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