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The Assessment & Discovery Conversation

The article, The AA/Black Woman’s Manual, presented three ways for women to support the incessant uprising of the man. For the AA/Black man and woman to be on the same page it was recommended for the couple to complete an assessment. This assessment should take the form of a conversation that outlines the couple’s mission and the necessary steps to accomplishing it. The assessment elicits and cultivates knowledge about their specific partnership. It requires vulnerability, affection, and the act of choice. The choice to be in this discovery phase together, with the willingness to set clear targets, and work to achieve them.

Simple right?! It is important to know that this is not a linear or a succinct process. This couple’s assessing procedure exposes your deepest insecurities, including asking for your partner to provide for you in specific ways. For many people, asking for what they need is their most private fear. Breaking through this individual rim bestows unto you and your partner an opportunity to build intimacy.

For this to be successful both you and your partner must agree to clear your schedule and your intentions to be present. Preparing your heart and mind to discuss various elements of you requires a particular frame of mind. We carry ourselves in protective gear to preserve our privacy, so letting down the armor may take time. Begin with marking your calendars, setting the location, and answering the questions independently.

Preparing to Have the Conversation

You may believe you know everything about your partner. This is common after you have been in a partnership or a marriage for a long time. You should embrace this confidence while accounting for individual developmental, behavioral, cognitive, and spiritual growth. Do not assume you know where your partner is today. Thus, approach this with an open mind. During this conversation you listen for and ask “how” and “how presently”. This is the pathway to sparking a deeper connection. It is encouraged to ask for examples that demonstrates quality of care and possible pathways to success. Meeting at an impasse should not be intimidating. This is the opportunity to co-construct criteria about the process, expected outcome, or evidence of trying. Additionally, for long term objectives, mile markers are encouraged to ensure that couples give themselves and receive from their partner specific descriptive feedback. At this point, also known as a relationship check- in, I recommend that the couple use the original language to remain on the same page in relation to the established agreement (for example, “we will”). The couple should attend this follow up ready to communicate evidence of their learning or implementation. Restructuring, clarifying, and consolidating is common during this time. This accommodates for the evolving needs of the couple while pursuing the mutually agreed-upon goal.

The Discovery Conversation

For most of us, the starting may feel awkward, so we begin by acknowledging that. Voicing that this is weird will help to release tension however, I want to encourage you to replace that statement with “this is weird, and I am going to trust the process”. This takes the responsibility of knowing what to do and how it will turn out off you (and your partner) and immediately reduces angst. You and your partner will take turns asking and answering the following question:

What is Your Learning Style?

It is important to understand how both you and your woman take in information. Is she a verbal (linguistic) learner? Do you prefer using words, both in speech and writing? With this knowledge, you will customize your approach. With her vast vocabulary, she may excel at speaking, debating, and journalism. This may be interpreted as oversharing, arguing, and aggressive texting. To avoid miscommunicating, learn about all seven learning styles and discover your own.

Regardless of your learning style, I recommend both of you show up to the conversation with pen and paper to record your thoughts, questions, and comments. This will produce a more relaxed mind to continue listening without getting unstuck trying to remember something you need to inquire more about. Depending on your learning you may need to record this interaction.

What is Your Communication Style?

While there are four basic communication styles: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive, our complex functioning allows the interchangeable use of most all. Determining how you deliver information will help to facilitate conversational flow and avoid unintentional damages or injuries. Seek out the communication styles of your partner while discovering your own.

What is Your Conflict Style?

It’s important to understand your partner’s conflict style. When conflicts do eventually arise, you can navigate them effectively. Knowing this information can circumvent insignificant issues, resolved problems quicker, and serve to strengthen the relationship. Invest time into learning more about your conflict style gradually. Review occasions when you were in conflict mode. What did you experience emotionally? How did you respond to your partner verbally, physically, and facially? It is also important for you and your partner to discuss your experiences while each of you was in this mode.

What Embarrasses You?

You may say nothing embarrasses you, but I invite you to challenge this immediate resistance and defense of intimacy. Embarrassment occurs during any topic or area of your life that you feel shame, self-consciousness, or awkwardness*. Embarrassment exists in almost all of us. Thus, exploring this before the conversation would prevent you from being caught off guard and will help you to communicate the need for your partner to approach areas in your life with caution. Learning this about your partner is critical so you can know when and where you need to be sensitive.

How Do You Process Emotionally?

If you have ever felt like you needed a certain type of support, because of how you process your emotions then this point will be especially important for you. How do you’re and your partner process your hurt, your anger, resentments, and passions? In turn, learning this information about each other makes you a more complete partnership. Together, you will develop a sense of importance and completeness for each other.

Does Timing Matters?

You may know instinctively that timing is important. How many times have you said, “I am not in the mood to deal right now”? When we do not pay attention to how time affects us, we end up making bad decisions, and leave important matters unresolved, thus weakening the relationship. When do you believe you are in the best frame of mind to allow yourself to be open and vulnerable? Knowing this about you will give both you and your partner insights and tactic. This is a simple way to make your partner feel valued as it demonstrates thoughtfulness and consideration of individual disposition. 

The goal is to spark continuous communications that allow for the discovery of yourself, your partner, and your union. Do not be fearful to ask what you need and in what ways in which you can put yourself in a position to fulfill those needs for your partner. Include what satisfies you sexually, what goals you have for the relationship, and what are somethings you are not willing to compromise on. Remember, if the mission is for both of you to out-love each other and out-provide for each other, making these inquires will not feel like a challenge but a stimulating journey.


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