I used to believe that if I had a grievance, opposing opinion, or legitimate complaint with someone, I had to bite my tongue to be perceived as a nice guy. On those rare occasions when I chose to speak up, I felt as though I was attacking the person. Since I’m not the attacking type, I learned to keep it to myself, all locked inside. If you believe in a mind-body connection, as I firmly do, you know that bottling things up and keeping them inside can lead to stress, uneasiness, and even disease.

In every marriage, you’ll occasionally have disagreements and do the wrong thing. To keep from making yourself unhealthy, and to make sure your marriage grows and flourishes, you need to practice being clear. Here are some guidelines.

Keep It Between the Two of You

In high school, you’d get four friends on “your side” by telling them about the horrible thing someone else had done to you. Then you’d go to that person and say, “You’re an idiot, and they all agree with me!” When disagreements arise, keep them between the two of you. Don’t allow little battles to interrupt the sanctity of your marriage. It’s so easy to divide a household with the tiny, seemingly insignificant comments you make about your spouse.

Always Clear Privately

If anyone else is there when you share and clear, the person you’re clearing with will feel ganged-up on and attacked, and will therefore feel the need to defend themselves. One-on-one feels like communication from a friend and loved one. Two-on-one feels like a firing squad.

Stick to the Facts

Share only the actions and words that upset or hurt you. Let’s say your spouse said something mean or unflattering about you at a party. Unless your spouse always says mean things about you in public, this was just a case being human and perhaps it was an isolated incident. Rather than making the statement, “You’re such a mean person,” simply describe how you felt when you heard the comments.

Focus on Your Desired End Result

Decide in advance how the best possible outcome would look and feel. Sometimes you’ll be tempted to rehearse a horrible outcome in your mind. You imagine yourself telling your spouse how he or she wronged you, and then you picture your spouse firing back a defense and subsequent attack. As you plan to clear with your spouse, imagine the two of you talking it through, confirming your love and appreciation for each other, and ending the chat with a hug. Your end-result mantra could be: “You and I will be closer for having gone through this. I will honor myself and I will honor you as I clear with you. This experience is for our growth.”

About the Author:

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and “one of the best motivational speakers in the country,” according to CNN’s Larry King. A business owner for over 25 years with over 8,000 people in his organization, Winn is the co-owner of hair care giant Paul Mitchell’s school division. Winn has helped thousands of businesses build their brands and create successful working cultures. His clients include Southwest Airlines, the Irvine Company, Vidal Sassoon, Entertainment Tonight, Mattel, For Rent magazine, Structure/Limited/Express, and others. Winn is a frequent guest on national radio and a regular contributor to online publications. Visit www.BeNiceOrElse.com to sign up for his free monthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter.