Guidelines for Couples Communication from

1. Action Complaints

  • Don’t give the person your theory/explanation (why they did what they did) along with your complaint.
  • Tell the person what they did that didn’t work for you.
  • Use videotalk. If the person can’t picture/hear it, you aren’t being specific enough to ensure your message will be heard.
  • Avoid blame, diagnosis and generalizations.

2. Action Requests

  • Use videotalk.
  • Ask the person to do something different in the future.
  • Don’t tell them what is wrong with them when you make the request.
  • Don’t assume they won’t do it. Give them a chance to show you.
  • Get specific about when or how often you would like them to do what you’ve asked.

3. Acknowledgment

  • Listening/acknowledging the other person’s feelings and points of view.
  • No rebutting. Just listen. See if you can understand what the other person is trying to communicate to you.
  • You don’t have to agree that what they are saying is correct, but don’t give them the message they are crazy for seeing things that way. Don’t dismiss or minimize.

4. Breaking Patterns

  • Change your part of any pattern that you notice isn’t working.
  • Do anything that is not cruel or unethical that would be different from what you usually do in the situation.
  • If it’s working, don’t fix it. If not, do something different.
  • Remember: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”