Getting your spouse to finally hear your complaints – part 5

An effective structure of a complaint: the Complaint Sandwich.

The hope when expressing a complaint is that the other person will listen and make some change. How the complaint is crafted (and delivered) is important.

Guy Winch, in his book Squeaky Wheel, recommends a formula called “the complaint sandwich”.

  1. The first “slice of bread” in the sandwich is the ‘ear opener’, a positive statement that will hopefully make the listener less defensive. 💬“You know, you are such a caring person in so many ways, and I love being married to you.”
  2. The meat of the sandwich is the complaint itself. And keep it lean, that is, specific and to this present incident. Stick to the facts of what happened, without judging their character or intent. 💬“I saw the dish in the sink” is much more effective than “You are so inconsiderate” or “You think I’m the servant here” or “Why do you think I am the one who has to do the dishes?” or “I hate when you…” or “Why don’t we…”
  3. The last part of the sandwich is another positive statement, one that might motivate the other person to make the requested change, or to do things differently. 💬 “If you could make an effort to put your dirty dishes into the dishwasher, it would make me so happy.”

As applicable, you can also ask for their insights and invite their ideas and solutions about how things can be different. 💬“How about …?”, 💬“How would you feel about …?”, 💬“What are your thoughts about …?”, 💬“Does that work for you? How might you tweak that idea?”

And your tone matters. Keep it civil.

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