Terry Real is the author of the bestseller The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work and a relationship expert that is in high demand with the international media for his commentary on relationships and marriage.
He breaks down how to effectively complain to your partner into 4 easy steps.
Before you open your mouth, remember ‘love’. This means think about the intention that you’re aiming for. Remember you’re speaking to someone you love. If you can get yourself in the right mindset before you complain, you’ll be more likely to get a good outcome.
Then follow this 4-step formula to complain:
1. This is what I observe
What would a video camera record? Describe the actual observation you saw or heard.
Keep it simple and behavioural. Don’t interpret or make assumptions at this stage.
For example, “When you came in the room you slammed the door and I heard you yell.”
2. This is the meaning it had for me
Take responsibility for what you heard. We all interpret and perceive things differently.
By saying ‘What I make up about this is…’ gives you permission to freely share your interpretation or the story you made up about the situation without blaming or accusing your partner.
3. This is what I felt
Again, take responsibility for what you feel.
No one makes you feel anything. Don’t tell your partner what they are feeling (‘you’ talk) speak about your feelings (not thoughts!)
For example, I feel hurt, happy, sad, angry, frustrated etc
4. Here is something you could say or do that would help me feel better
Make sure you tell your partner what you want from them that would help you feel better.
It’s through making a clear request that you can then hope to get what you want.
If you don’t ask for what you want, you can be guaranteed that you won’t get it!
Bonus step: Let it go
Once you’ve communicated your thoughts and feelings, then you need to let it go. You’ve done what you can to make the situation better and now it’s time to let it go.
Watch the video below to see Terry speak about how to do the above steps.
Clinton Power is a relationship counsellor and Gestalt therapist with over a decade of experience helping individuals and couples move out of relationship pain and create great relationships. Get Clinton’s FREE report: 10 Tips for Moving Out of Relationship Pain, by clicking the button below.