During the past couple weeks I've known something was bothering Jrex. I tried to draw him out and find out what was going on, but he wasn't yet ready to discuss it. We finally made an appointment to "talk". A couple days before our impending chat I was praying before work when I had a thought: let him say everything that's bothering him while I take notes (and write my counter arguments in the margins). Then, I'll process what he says and write him a letter in response. That removes the risk of confrontation for him and gives me time to give a considered response. Too often our discussions get derailed when one of us hits the other's trigger point. I told him the format ahead of time so that he would know he didn't need to be geared for battle.
Last night we had our 'discussion'. Yes, there were a bunch of things bothering him, but somehow taking notes distracted me enough to hear without personalizing the whole thing. By the end we both felt reconnected and happy with each other.
I still have to write out my response, but it was definitely the most pleasant fight I've ever had!