Mark: Jill and I and our daughters Anne and Erica spent the weekend with hundreds of moms at Jill’s Mom Getaway Day in Rochester, Minnesota. It was a full weekend of fabulous music, teaching, and getting to hear the stories of so many wonderful moms.

Jill: The week before the event, I was helping my friend Tina finish up the editing on her new parenting book, Raising a Leader For Life. In the book, she shares a phrase that parents can use to help their kids open up and talk about their frustrations. Of course, the phrase can be used for parents to communicate their frustrations, too.

Mark: And it’s also a great phrase to use in marriage! In fact, this phrase will help you change your frustration into communication.

Jill: Too often we turn our frustration into complaining. Complaining and protesting aren’t good formats for communication. They incite defensiveness and are an indirect form of communication. Good communication is direct.

Mark: Here’s the phrase:

“I feel ____ when ____ because ____ so I’d prefer ____.”

Here’s an example, “I feel taken advantage of when I don’t have help cleaning up the kitchen after dinner because I have things I’d also like to do in the evening so I’d prefer you help me clear the table and get the kitchen cleaned up before you go on to your after dinner activities.” (Yes, it’s a bit of a long, run-on sentence. You’re using this for improving communication, not getting a grammar grade!)

Jill: Notice the sentence starts with “I feel” so it immediately helps to ease defensiveness. It gives communication about the issue and why the situation is frustrating. Finally, it offers a solution to the person with whom you’re talking.

Mark: Go ahead and write down that phrase on an index card or in your journal. Then take it for a spin the next time you’re frustrated with your spouse.

Jill: Instead of complaining, you’ll be communicating in a respectful, honoring way!

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