1) In stating a problem, always begin with something positive. “I like it when you hold me while we watch tv. But I feel rejected when you aren’t affectionate in other situations.”
2) Be specific. “You seldom ask me questions about my day,” or, “Most of the time I initiate sex.”
3) Express your feelings. “I feel rejected and unloved when you don’t include me in your weekend plans,”or,“It’s very frustrating when I want sex but have to wait for you to initiate it.”
4) Admit your role in the problem. “I know that I can make it hard for you to play with the kids because I sometimes step in and interfere.”
5) Be brief when defining problems. Do not devote excessive time to describing, rather than solving, a problem. No need to mention the multiple times one can remember being hurt and feeling angry. Why questions do not help. “Why do you feel it necessary to avoid my requests?” This is verbal masturbation.
6) Side-tracking is useless. Husband: “I’d like you to be nicer to my mother.” Wife: “Since when are you nice to my family?”
7) Discuss only one problem area at a time.
8) Don’t make inferences-only talk about specifics. “I think you’re mad at me because I criticized your driving,” or, “There’s a lot of anger in you.” Instead offer a specific, “When you said my dress was too young for me in front of Bill and Lisa, I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable.”
9) Focus on solutions and brainstorm together. “How can we solve this together? It sounds as if we’re both frustrated and hurt.”
10) Paraphrase: Every remark should be brief, summarized, and simple.