The Magic Solution Where you BOTH Win: Use A Gentle Start-Up
We’ve all been there, you and your partner are at odds over something trivial (or big), and that conversation quickly escalates into an all out battle, or hurt feelings, or any one of a million bad outcomes. Dr John Gottman’s research found that the first three minutes of a conversation will be an indicator to how the conversation will end. He found 94% of the time if the discussion starts with a harsh startup, the outcome of the conversation will end as it began, negative and harsh. Isn’t that wild? The good news is, we can avoid this outcome by using a “Gentle Start Up” - and we’re going to tell you how.
Effective communication is essential for any healthy relationship, and this is especially true when it comes to conflicts. Conflicts in close relationships are inevitable, but the way in which they are handled can make a significant difference in the longevity and happiness of the relationship. Good conflict communication skills allow couples to express their needs and feelings, listen actively to their partner, and find mutually beneficial solutions.
The Top 10 Areas of Conflict for Couples:
- Household chores
- Communication and conflict resolution
- Time management
- Trust and jealousy
- Career and work-life balance
- Recreational activities and hobbies
The Gottman Gentle Start-Up is a method for couples to discuss conflicts in a way that is calm, respectful and non-blaming. It involves using "I" statements to express your own feelings and needs, rather than blaming or accusing your partner. It also emphasizes active listening and empathy, rather than interrupting or becoming defensive. The goal is to create a safe and secure environment in which both partners feel heard and understood, and can work together to find a solution. This method helps couples to identify the underlying issues and feelings behind the conflict, rather than getting caught up in blame or defensiveness. This approach can lead to a deeper understanding of your partner, and to more effective and satisfying solutions.
How to Use A Gentle Start Up
To use this method effectively, always start with “I feel” statement followed by a feeling. This positions the statement to be about you, and does not point an accusatory finger at your partner.
- I feel sad when…
- I feel annoyed when…
- I feel unheard when…
Followed by the problem:
- the house is a mess….
- when you are late and don’t call….
- when you interrupt me
Followed by your need:
- I need you to help keep your areas clean…
- I need you to call me with your ETA…
- I need you let me finish what I’m saying before you jump in
5 Examples of a Gentle Start-up
You can do this! Once you have the recipe - it's so easy to apply. The Gottman Gentle Start-Up method promotes mutual understanding, respect and empathy for couples. It helps couples to identify the underlying issues and feelings behind the conflict, rather than getting caught up in blame or defensiveness. This approach can lead to a deeper understanding of one's partner, and to more effective and satisfying solutions. This method is successful because it allows couples to express themselves without feeling attacked, and it helps them to actively listen to their partner and understand their perspective. Additionally, it encourages finding mutually beneficial solutions, which helps to strengthen the relationship in the long run.
Want more tools to create a closer, less stress relationship? We've got you covered! Join one of our Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work, Workshops - it's fun, and you'll ROCK YOUR RELATIONSHIP in no time.