“I” Statements


Research on marital satisfaction finds that couples who use “I” statements are generally happier in their relationships than couples who routinely use “you” statements. (For example, “I need to get out of the house during the weekend to decompress” vs. “You always abandon me with the kids and you take me for granted as a babysitter all weekend.”)

Marriage is not the only time to use “I” statements. Consider using them during your divorce for a smoother and more amicable negotiation. Here are some translations from inflammatory “you” statements into effective “I” statements.

On Custody

“You don’t deserve to have the children all the time. You are undeserving and entitled.”


“I would really like to have time-sharing with the children every weekend because I want to continue to coach Tommy’s baseball practice, take Sally to her Saturday ballet practices, bring the children to church, and bring the children to my family events. My extended family doesn’t do much socially during the week, but we spend a lot of time together on weekends and I want our children to be part of that so they can have strong relationships with their cousins and grandparents.”


On Child Support

“You are useless with money and you are going to waste all the child support on booze and your boyfriend.”


“I feel concerned that there won’t be enough resources for the children after the divorce. I am hopeful that the child support money can be used for the children’s clothes, school supplies, food, and other necessities. How does that sound?”


On Alimony

“You are a philandering #&(@^& and you deserve to pay me every penny you’ve ever seen.”


“After this divorce is final, I will be responsible for my own rent, uninsured medicals, food, transportation, etc. I am going to need to be able to meet these needs with alimony, and I am hoping we can reach an alimony figure that is feasible for you and also allows me to maintain my independence without becoming bankrupt or a ward of the state.”