When we were newlyweds my husband jokingly nicknamed me "The Great Communicator" because of my knack for gently persuading him to talk about sensitive, stressful subjects. Over the past 14 years I've nudged Aaron to address everything from how we'd help our aging parents to who would raise our son if both of us were hit by a bus. I tend to fret about the future and fear the unexpected, so knowing how he thinks and creating contingency plans give me some peace of mind.
When we first tackle a topic we often disagree on the solutions. But it's worth the effort to keep revisiting the scenarios and compromising until we finally reach a consensus. By doing so Aaron and I have also become closer. "Working through difficult issues together can improve a couple's emotional connection because it allows them to see each other as allies who are respectful, caring, and empathic," says Marc D. Rabinowitz, a marital therapist in Norfolk, Virginia. What's more, collaborating this way can preempt other problems since "couples tend to get angry or pull away from each other in the middle of a crisis," says Bonnie Gordon-Rabinowitz, who shares a practice with her husband. Read on for expert advice on the five conversations every married couple should have sooner rather than later.