Talk about what pleases you, not only what bothers you.
Preface negative statements with positive ones that let your spouse know that you haven’t forgotten their good qualities, even when you are upset about something.
“I know that you have good intentions when you say that you’ll be home early…but it’s a real problem for me when you don’t come home when you said you would. What I would like is for you to come home in time for the kids to see you before they go to bed. How can we make that happen?”
NOTE: Your mindset and the words that come from your intention matter most. This is not a technique, like the ‘praise sandwich’. Rather, it is a way for both of you to keep the problem in perspective. Remembering the whole person will make you a bit less angry and the criticized person is less defensive. In this way, you can have a productive conversation to address the issue.