Have you found yourself in relationship arguing about the same thing over and over with no outcome? If your answer is yes, you are not alone.
Research has found that 69% of couples’ areas of disagreement are about UNRESOLVABLE problems.
What does make a difference is a soft start up. John Gottman found that in 94% of arguments the way the argument starts is the way it will end.
It makes sense. Compare this harsh start-up: “You are home late AGAIN. I don’t know why I bother cooking anything for you, it’s cold now.”
To this soft start-up (feelings, using ‘I’ statements): “Hey, I’m feeling a bit sad you are so late again, the food is cold.”
Notice in the harsh start-up there are lots of ‘you’ statements, which tend to illicit defensiveness because they often contain judgement and criticism. The soft start-up allows us to raise an issue without blame.
If you try the soft start-up and it is met with negativity, you can try affirming your intention. You can say something like, “I’m not trying to criticise you, I know you are really busy at work at the moment, I want us to be closer and have more quality time together.” This is usually reassuring for the other person to hear.
Before your next conflict discussion, try to plan to use the soft start-up and see what happens.
*Based on the Gottman Method Couples Therapy – John & Julie Gottman