1. Using “I” language; starting an argument with “You” will cause just about anyone to go on the defensive.
2. State your feelings and own them. Instead of saying, “You make me feel…” try this: “I feel … when you do….” Remember, no one can make you feel anything. You are the one responsible for your feelings.
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3. Avoid the words “always” and “never.” Instead of saying “You never come home on time,” try this: “I feel …. when you come home late so often.”
4. Don’t have a big BUT. A big but in the middle of what you’re saying will negate everything you’ve just said. For example, “I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t think you’re listening to me” get shortened in the other person’s mind to “I don’t think you’re listening to me.”
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At first you may feel awkward and unnatural arguing like this. With some practice, these techniques will become more natural. You may even find that the arguments disappear, replaced with honest, open discussions about how you are each feeling and responding to each other.