1)No name calling.

2) Listen to what is being said. What is it your spouse/partner is asking?

3) Don’t be defensive by throwing out what the other is doing wrong.

4) Think about whether it is accurate.

5) If you find the accusation is valid come up with an idea of how to deal with it.

6) If you feel it is not accurate, in a calm steadfast way detail why you think it is unfair. No screaming.

7) If a good, rational case is made that you are wrong take time to really delve into what is causing you to behave/speak in a way that is hurtful.

8) Did your father/mother speak that way. It may feel comfortable for you to imitate that behavior but your spouse/partner may not agree.

9) If a change is forthcoming, find a way to stop yourself when you know you will say something hurtful, like a light bite on the tongue or pinch yourself.

10) Even if you disagree with the complaint what you are doing/saying, however innocent, is not agreeing with your spouse/partner. Change it. We all have different sensitivities.

11) Each make a list detailing what it is that bothers you about the other person and study then go over those lists together. Make a big effort to change.

12) No attempt to listen, heed the complaint and refusing to attempt to change is a recipe for disaster.


Frances Metzman, author, essayist, journalist

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