Minimize defensiveness. Use better words.

Defensiveness destroys relationships from the inside-out. It creates a climate of contention and tension that eventually leads to a loss of trust, alienation, and separation.

No one likes to hear a tirade of complaints and gripes. Not you, not your spouse.

Choose words that are easier to hear. When talking about a concern, begin with words of connection. Show that you can see it from their point of view and you are offering a possible explanation of why it might have happened. This reduces defensiveness and puts the listener in a more receptive state. “I know you have been so busy lately, so I see how you might have forgotten something important. When the bill wasn’t paid on time, we got late fees. When I see those late fees, it makes me anxious and frustrated. I really would like for you to remember to pay the bills on time.” “I know you sometimes don’t realize how important small gestures are … Please try to remember; it is important to me.” –
Excerpted from Marriage 911, Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, LCSW-R and Chaya Feuerman, LCSW-R authors.

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