Avoid Harsh Start-up

According to John Gottman, PhD Marital Researcher, the first Divorce Predictor is the “Harsh Start-up.”

If within the first three minutes, a discussion starts out blaming, accusatory or with negativity the discussion has a 96% chance of failure!  it will go nowhere, but out of control!

However, the Intentional Dialogue can solve this problem. Prior to beginning to dialogue, one partner may be upset, worried about an issue that might create tension or maybe just wants to be heard about something important to them, so s/he requests an appointment for Dialogue.

It sounds like this:

“Hey, honey, I’d like to have an Intentional Dialogue with you ASAP to discuss something that’s important to me.  How soon would you be available for that?” 

The “Receiving” partner needs to grant the appointment now, if possible or ASAP.  However, a definite time should be scheduled and, while both share in the responsibility to get back together at that scheduled time, it is primarily the Receiver’s responsibility to stop what s/he is doing and re-initiate the Dialogue.

In the next Post I will discuss the first of the 4 Horsemen and how Dialogue addresses these dynamics.

Carol A. Anderson, MS


For more info on Carol’s Singles Programs, visit:


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ABOUT CAROL: Carol has been married for 42 years and has been a successful Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist for 20 years. As a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist & Workshop Presenter, Carol presents workshops for both Singles & Couples! Over the years, she has helped thousands of Singles & Couples FIND, CREATE & KEEP LASTING LOVE and Begin the Journey to the Relationship of their DREAMS! Carol is now transitioning to a Coaching Practice! Why not let Carol help you to create the Relationship of your Dreams as well?


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