Here we are getting to the nuts and bolts of how to talk well in important conversations. Again, it's nothing magic. In fact it feels kinda third grade at first. That is the beauty of it. Simple, slow, focused.
In good spousal communication the primary goal is NOT to determine who is right or wrong, it is to more fully know and understand one another. This may seem inefficient at first. Let it be inefficient. The slowness of it takes some getting used to but for Ann and I in tense conversations this is the most efficient regardless of the initial perception.
Speak for yourself in conversations. Avoid 'you do this' statements. Use 'I feel' if it is a feeling or 'I think' or 'my perception is' if it is a thought.
Do your best to have focus in the conversation. In important conversations stay with the essential issues. Different events and topics will connect in your brain but do your best to stay with the topic at hand.
Advantages of Speaker/Listener
Speaker/Listener is artificially structured for a reason. Again it forces you to slow down. Slowing down the conversation helps counteract Escalation.
Seeking to understand helps you to be non-defensive in your listening. This helps you to focus on what your spouse is saying which counteracts Invalidation.
Be curious about your spouse's soul. This will go a long way to counteract Negative Interpretations.
Both partners get to participate in the conversation, reducing Withdrawal.
The goal is showing real respect and honor to one another, not agreement.
The safety of the structure you're going to learn is worthless without a desire to respect and honor.