Many couples make a mistake by beginning a conversation with a Harsh Startup that makes an accusation that immediately provokes conflict, like “Why did you come home so late? Where were you?” When you start a conversation with an anxious or angry tone, a fight or an argument is the likely result.

A better approach is to begin with a Soft Startup like “I really missed you. I was hoping you would get here sooner.”

Whenever couples are trying to solve problems, their personality differences come into play. The very things that may have attracted them at the beginning of their relationship are now dividing them. The goal here is to prevent the expression of criticism.

Happily married couples manage conflict well by softly presenting their needs. Their approach can be summarized in these “Five Rules” for softened startup.

Brief, Positive, Polite, Specific

and Express How You Feel

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