Derailing Conversations in Relationships

Couple conversations can get derailed. Derailment is a metaphor. It means that the conversation becomes like a train off the tracks.

Sometimes this means the conversation stops, as one or both choose not to speak as to avoid conflict. This is described as stonewalling.


At other times the conversation escalates into an argument. Perhaps, in the argument, there is contempt, criticism or defensiveness present.

These seem to de-rail the conversation. They harm the relationship too.


However, there is one relationship tool that can help. It is a couple communication tool can help to put conversations on the rails right from the start of the conversation.

It also helps to keep couple conversations on the tracks.
It is known as the Couple Dialog.


The Couple Dialog

The Couple Dialog is an intentional way to communicate. Intentional communication is a way of communicating that deliberately fosters social and emotional skill development.

Put simply, social and emotional skills include: understanding and managing oneself, relating to others, and making responsible choices based on self and others.



With regular practice, a couple can become skilled in having intentional conversations. By fostering and privileging intentional communication, a couple can communicate about frustrations in the relationship.

Even the biggest relationship issues can be discussed without the conversation becoming derailed. However, fluency requires practice.


Practice for Four weeks

Fluency is the ability to engage in the couple dialog with ease and comfort. Fluency usually requires almost daily practice for four weeks.

When a couple practices for 15 minutes a day, intentional conversations shift from being awkward and slow, to more natural and fluent.


Brief, 15-minute, couple conversations practiced almost daily will bring the best results.


Re-Railing the Conversation

When couple conversations are in a pattern of becoming derailed, the pattern can be changed. One way to get couple conversations on-track without contempt, criticism, stonewalling or defensiveness, is to engage in intentional communication.

An intentional Couple Dialog can re-rail conversations, then keep them on track.


The Couple Dialog is an intentional way to communicate that can be used when the natural ways to communicate no longer work well.

The Couple Dialog is an intentional process that couples can learn to help them talk about all sorts of issues, even the big issues.


The First Five days

In the first week, you’ll only talk about topics that are easy to chat about. You could talk about “what happened in my day”.


Or you could talk about “appreciations”.


Appreciations are things that you appreciate in your partner.


This will give you about 90 minutes of practice before the second session.


The next 7 days

In the second session you will have practiced being The Receiver and The Speaker.
You might have enough experience in these roles to be able to engage in a conversation about a ‘frustration topic’.
You may have a ‘frustration topic’ you want to discuss with your partner.

Using the Couple Dialog, you can use The Frustration as the topic.
You can have a conversation about The Frustration instead of “What Happened in my day”. Instead of talking about “Appreciations”.

Topics can be Triggering

It can be very difficult to keep in the role of The Speaker or The Receiver when the conversation is on a frustration topic.


But because you have practiced for 15-minutes-a-day, for a week, the conversation is less likely to get de-railed.