Don’t Mix Ice Cream With Spinach

Ice cream and spinachIn The Us Factor, Dr. Melnick talks about a sure way to cause your partner not to trust you. It’s called “The Yes…But”, and basically it goes like this: You start out saying something positive, then follow it up with something negative. Here are a couple of examples:

“Honey, I really liked the way you paid the bills this month, but I like to pay the car payment before I pay the credit card bill”.

Or “You did a great job helping little Jimmy with his homework tonight, but I wish you didn’t work so much so you could help him every night”.

Do you see how the second half of the sentence negates the first half? When you talk like that to someone, and if it gets to be a habit, the other person will become “in tune” to listening to the negative part, and not even hear the positive. They’ll feel that they are being manipulated, and a lot of time that’s true.

Some people feel that they need to start a difficult conversation with a positive statement, so that they don’t let the other person down too hard:

“You’re really a good person, but I can’t live with you anymore”. Ouch!

One way a couple can ease themselves into uncomfortable discussions is to prepare the ground. Ask your partner when they’ll be willing to set down and talk about a concern you have. Don’t surprise them with it.

In order to make a relationship work, you need to separate the good from the bad, or they’ll get mixed up. If you like the way your spouse did something, tell them. “I really like how you arranged the living room furniture”. If you don’t like it, then say “I don’t really like the furniture this way. Can we sit down and talk about it?”

Be prepared to give examples, but don’t blame or shame. Always speak with compassion and use “I feel” statements, and things will go much better. And remember – keep the positive and the negative separate!

About the author: By

Matt is the parent (along with his wife Julie) to five wonderful kids. He has been self-employed for 25+ years and is the owner of the How To Fix My Marriage website.

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Disclaimer: We are not psychologists, counselors, or therapists. We are a married couple that has had their share of challenges, and the techniques, tools, and programs we recommend on this site have worked for us on our journey.

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