Dealing with a Critical Spouse – Tips for a Happy Married Life
Being married to someone who criticizes nearly everything you do or someone who questions your every move can be extremely exhausting. It can cause relationship issues and ruin the possibility of a happy married life if it is not dealt with promptly.
The first step to dealing with a critical spouse is realizing that they are probably not doing it to hurt or belittle you. Very few husbands and wives set out with the intention to belittle their spouses so, unless your spouse has given you a reason to believe that they are trying to hurt you, it is very important to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Frustration Meets Poor Communication
Negative criticism occurs when frustration meets poor communication. In other words, criticism often means that there is something in your marriage that your partner is frustrated about, but he or she doesn’t know how to communicate it to you the right way. In fact, the only difference between positive criticism, which is a good thing, and negative criticism, which can make married life very unhappy, is delivery.
What to do About a Critical Spouse
Just because your spouse’s criticism isn’t malicious doesn’t mean that you should ignore it. For the sake of a happy marriage, you need to let them know that you feel criticized.
The best time to talk to your partner about this is when you have calmed down and are not feeling defensive. Approaching your spouse when you are feeling defensive will only escalate the situation and lead to an endless cycle of criticism and defensiveness.
When you talk to your spouse, start by acknowledging their frustrations and concerns. This will help them feel heard and make them more open to acknowledging that their delivery was not the best.
Then, ask your spouse what changes they want you to make. This encourages them to communicate what they want in clear and measurable terms.
Lastly, suggest that you both begin phrasing your criticism of each other as requests. For instance, instead of saying “you are such as slob” say “Would you please pick up after yourself?” This one trick can make married life a whole lot easier because it takes the focus away from what the other person is doing wrong and directs it towards a measurable goal.