Use “I” language as much as possible, describing your own experience and your reaction to it, without making it about the other person. Don’t label or judge your partner. Don’t be attached to the idea that what you think and feel is right. Your feelings are valid because you are having them, but that doesn’t mean they’re accurate. Recognize and own that you are making meaning out of events; this keeps your conversation in the realm of exploring what’s happening for you instead of attacking your partner.

So, let me use an example of “feeling like your partner doesn’t value your contributions to the family.” A better way to say that might be: “I realize I feel sad and resentful about how much I think I do for the family. I have this story that you don’t even notice all my effort. Or that you don’t care or value the ways I contribute. This belief keeps me distant from you, and I can tell it’s really in the way of our relationship. Will you explore with me what I’m thinking and feeling so we can move it out of the way?”

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