In heterosexual couples, more often than not, it is the wife that brings up issues within a marriage. How the wife decides to bring up the conflict sets the stage for the discussion. Does the conversation start out with criticism, blame, or contempt? Or does the conversation start softly with expression of feelings, wants, and needs? Take a look at the two conversation start-ups below. Which one is the soft-startup?
“You never help me with the dinner prep, and I am sick of it! You need to contribute more. I can’t do everything around the house.”
“Can we talk for a minute? I’m feeling a little worn out from the amount of chores around the house. I would like us to figure out a better plan going forward to divide the housework.”
Did you guess correctly? The second start-up is soft, while the first is full of the four horsemen. The best soft-start-up has four parts: (1) “I share some responsibility for this…. (2) Here’s how I feel… (3) about a specific situation and… (4) here’s what I need…(positive need, not what you don’t need).