Marriage Tips: I Statements

Okay, this is not a new concept in relationships, but it is a valuable one. Even if you have heard this before, remember, it does work. Use “I statements” to communicate problems or concerns instead of saying things that sound accusatory. Saying “I feel hurt” will bring forth a much better response than “You hurt my feelings.” This is true for marriage and for other relationships as well.

Combining constructive criticism, good listening skills, and the use of I statements will develop a better form of communication between you and your husband or wife.

Examples:

This:

I didn’t know.

Instead of:

You should have told me.

This:

I might have liked that.

Instead of:

You should have asked me.

This:

I don’t agree.

Instead of:

You don’t know what you’re talking about (or, you’re wrong).

This:

I don’t want to, and this is why…

Instead of:

You can’t tell me what to do!

This:

I need to hear you say you love me more often.

Instead of:

You never say I love you!

You can see from these examples how “you” statements are more likely to create an atmosphere of defensiveness instead of responsiveness. We all do it, but by trying to exchange many of those you statements for I statements, we give our spouses an opportunity to respond to the issue at hand, instead of the sense of being attacked.

Even if your mate knows that he or she was wrong, the response is not likely to be one of contrition when your spouse feels defensive. When you say, “I didn’t know,” you give him or her an opportunity to say, “I should have told you,” and to apologize. When instead you say, “You should have told me,” or “Why didn’t you tell me?” you might as well be asking for excuses and demanding a defense.

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