The Worst Time to Start a Serious Conversation

When you have something important to share or discuss with your partner, you may want to tell them as soon as possible. The moment they wake up in the morning. As soon as they walk in the door from work.

And unfortunately, you may end up disappointed by their lack of engagement or irritation.

That’s because both situations are examples of transition times. Your partner is in the middle of ending one activity and starting another. As they move between those states, it can be hard to focus.

Many of us believe we are master multi-taskers, but study after study has shown that we are really only able to focus on one thing at a time. That’s why arguments are more likely to happen during times of transition. Your brain is shifting focus, and one extra stimulus to handle can lead to overload.

Here are a few tips for avoiding this relationship pitfall.

Avoid transition times.

The most common are falling asleep, waking up, leaving for the day, and returning home. Give your spouse time to adjust to the “brain shift” required at these times.

Share your transition times.

Some of us are morning people, waking up sunny and ready for the day. Others are the polar opposite. If your spouse is one type and you’re the other, it may be hard to understand one another – unless you communicate your preferences and respect your differences.

Make transition times positive.

You shouldn’t have serious discussions during transition times, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid each other entirely. Instead use those times to connect. Share a kiss before heading out the door. Snuggle as you settle down to sleep. Have a favorite snack ready when your spouse returns home. This is the time for kind words, acts of services, and physical forms of affection.

Set aside time.

If you both lead busy lives, it may feel like one of you is always in the middle of some transition time. Prioritize your relationship by scheduling time daily to connect away from other distractions.

Timing matters when it comes to communication, especially about important topics. Give your spouse the gifts of space when needed – and undivided attention when that’s needed, too.

Walt Ciecko, Ph. D., BCB
605 Wynyard Rd
Wilmington, DE 19803