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


Copyright, Frances Metzman, Reunion, 2018


It had taken Toni two hours to put herself together for the reunion with Caroline and Lana, two women who had meant so much to her in the past.  Until a week ago she hadn’t seen or heard from either one of them for sixteen years.  At first, they had occasionally phoned then e-mailed, and after all communication stopped, they lost track of what everyone was up to.

Studying herself in the mirror, Toni hoped she gave the appearance of success, confidence and a woman who had arrived.  In the last year an urge to meet up with the old friends had become progressively stronger until Toni got their new e-mail addresses through old friends and made the arrangements.  They all decided to wait until they met to play catch-up.  She wanted to show her mentors how far she had come from being an administrative assistant, a euphemism for secretary, at Scarducci, Adden and Drugers. The law firm had hired her straight out of high school.  Caroline and Lana were newly graduated young lawyers at the same firm who, unlike Toni, had grown up privileged.

Although Caroline and Lana had treated her well, Toni felt that she didn’t measure up to them because she couldn’t afford to go to college.  She always felt on the rim of their friendship.  Despite having been invited to both their homes on a couple of occasions, in her perception, she never entered the inner circle of their lives.  Looking back, she knew that feeling opaque in their presence was because of her own insecurities. Yet, undeniably, knowing them had been a life-changing experience.  She could now present herself as a person of substance.

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