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Something better than complaining

October 14, 2013

Here’s a great idea…
In their book, 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, John and Julie Gottman say,
“It’s a myth that happily married people don’t complain about each other’s behavior. In fact, it would be ludicrous to expect two human beings to live together without complaints.” (p. 25)

In other words…
We all have our own particular needs, desires, rhythms, and habits.  And these needs are bound to collide with our partner’s preferences, producing strong emotions.  There is an alternative to either stifling our emotions or exploding.  Partners can learn to express their needs and preferences in ways that are respectful, clear, specific, and immediate.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…
Try these tips when you and your partner face an issue: don’t blame the problem on the other person; focus on a specific issue, tackle one issue at a time rather than barrage them with a stockpile of complaints; focus on the present rather than dig up past grievances; pick a time to make requests when your partner can listen and respond without distractions. These “healthy complaint” tips can help smooth the way to resolving issues respectfully.

To find out more…
about couple relationships, check out The Marriage Garden or the Getting Our Hearts Right program at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also like to read 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage.

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