Take turns reading one of the Harsh Start-up statements. The other will try to turn the Harsh Start-up into a Gentle Start-up. If you have trouble doing this, then work together to find a way you agree would be a Gentle Start-up if this were a problem in your marriage. Make this a team exercise, not an excuse to criticize or complain.
- We never do anything fun anymore. You are a workaholic!
- You haven’t helped me with chores for weeks. I’m exhausted and you don’t even notice.
- You’re so thoughtless. You don’t call me when you’ll be late or ever bring me flowers.
- You always talk about yourself. Do you even care about my day?
- You aren’t attracted to me anymore! You flirt with everyone else.
- We got a collection notice today. You are irresponsible about paying our bills.
- You never play with the kids. You’re a lousy parent.
- You never say, “No” to the kids. You spoil the kids and I look like the ‘bad guy.”
- Go back to the store for the things you didn’t buy!
- You’re a slob! Look at this mess.
Need some help in softening these harsh start-ups?
- Think about ways to remember some success in the past in this trouble area. Affirm and appreciate any past success or progress in this area.
- Replace “never” and “always” with a statement about the current problem not the past.
- Think about what the “real” issue is instead of poking at several issues.
- Eliminate character assassination or name calling.
- Find ways to use “I” statements instead of “You” statements.