We often have people ask us how to get their partner to listen to their concerns without immediately getting defensive or trying to turn the tables with a complaint about them … or about the way that they are making the complaint. We also have people ask us how to keep their spouse from “nagging” or bringing up complaints in an angry way … after they have been “sizzling” for awhile.
Starting a Complaint
Starting a complaint in a positive way can make a big difference in how the conversation will evolve. Often complaints are started when someone is angry about a problem or behavior … and starting in an angry way only causes more anger… on the part of both people. Other times complaints are started after one person has thought about them for a long time and the frustration has piled on top of itself. The complaint then is “spewed” out in a quick and angry way.
Here are some tips to try when you want to talk with your partner about something that is bothering you.
Begin your complaint with a positive statement such as “I love you and I want to keep things good between us … and there is something that I really want to talk about …”
|Begin with an example of a time when your partner actually did what you want him to do more of … “Last week, when you got up early with the children and let me sleep in awhile was wonderful. Can we find a way to make that happen a little more often?” or “I know that you have a really busy and complicated job. Yesterday when you called me and told me that you were headed home and would be here by 6:45 … and then got here by that time, really made me feel good. Is there any way that you can do that more often?”|
Some other good openings are …
“I do not want to hurt your feelings and yet (never “but”) I really need to talk about this“…
“I really feel like you care about me when you … “
“I feel the closest to you when …”
“I know that you only have good intentions when … and yet it frustrates me when …”