I am amazed how few people are able to do this without prompting so here’s my prompt. Instead of focusing on what is wrong with the other person, take responsibility for your side of the equation.
“You never help around the house” is the example of a “you statement”. It is judgmental and blaming and has criticism in it. Imagine hearing those words from your partner. How would it land for you? Would you agree? Is it accurate? Would it motivate you to change?
Now try this, “I could really use your help with this project. Here’s what I need…” Did you hear blame? Do you feel judged? It is a need, rather than a complaint (with thanks to John Gottman PhD).
It is talking about my side of the equation. You could go deeper and talk more about the impact on you and what your inner landscape is like. “I am really overwhelmed. I’m kinda depressed and fatigued lately. I can’t seem to find the motivation. I know you are really busy, so I feel guilty asking this of you. If you rely on me, I am afraid I won’t get it done or I’ll run out of gas before I finish.”
Now go back and compare this statement to “You never…” Which would you rather receive?
Gottman calls it soft startup, Sue Johnson refers to it in her book Hold me Tight, others call it an “I statement” and it is used in NVC (non-violent communication) circles. It just goes over better.
On a totally unrelated note: I have 3 new CDs and 2 Workbooks for sale. The workbooks are The Anxiety Workbook and An Affair Workbook for the Person Who Cheated.
The CDs are: The Anxiety Workbook (goes well with the workbook-companion)
Get the Spark Back and
Contemplating Divorce (hint- if getting a divorce is still a choice- don't do it. If you have to divorce, then do it. It is simply too painful to do it unless you have to.)