The metaphor, “the elephant in the room” refers to an obvious problem that is being ignored. You both know that there is an issue. Yet, neither is willing to talk about it. Or even admit it exists.
Ignoring an obvious problem is a type of conflict avoidance strategy. People fear the stress and negativity that could result. Ignoring it doesn’t make it disappear magically. Communicating about it will give you a better handle on the situation and is your only chance of solving the problem.
When you do talk about the elephant in the room it might be uncomfortable and might even hurt, but also it gives you an opportunity to resolve the issue that exists.
Communication–especially about the things that scare you or make you uncomfortable–is key to a successful relationship. The longer you ignore an issue, the more weight it will bear on the relationship.
“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.”
“There’s something that I have been avoiding for a while. I want to talk about it. When would be a good time?”