How to Complain Effectively in Your Marriage to Improve Communication
Huh? What in the world does how to complain effectively in your marriage mean…that sounds like a contradiction!
Here is what I am referring to…
There are positive ways to complain in relationships that don’t have to cause an all out argument as a result. Complaining is part of communication if done correctly. What I mean is, if you are talking about yourself and stating what your needs are, not focusing on “what’s wrong” with your spouse. It could change the way you both relate to each other.
Dr. John Gottman has done an extensive amount of research in this area and if you’ve been frequently reading any of my past relationship blog articles you’ll likely remember me siting his work and mentioning him. Much of this article is based around Dr. Gottman’s research findings and what works in healthy relationships. If you’d like more information on this, he has written many books that could be helpful…
Complaining in Relationships – How to Make it Work
How to complain effectively in your marriage…
Hurt feelings, sadness, disappointment, dashed expectations, frustration and anger are natural human emotions. Healthy relationships are not void of these things. Let me say that again…to have a healthy relationship, you are actually likely to have hurt feelings, anger, sadness, disappointment, etc. It’s part of being in a relationship with another and it can serve a healthy function. It lets you know what’s not working for you or your spouse and how you can take care of each other or yourself moving forward. And when you “complain” you’re letting each other know what is hurting you, disappointing you, making you sad, frustrated, etc.
For many couples that can allow for these natural human emotions to be expressed in their marriage, the most important factor is how it’s discussed and responded to. How it’s said by the person that has the hurt feelings or is feeling disappointed or sad. And how their partner responds in kind.
What’s the difference between complaining and criticizing?
Criticizing is when you are blaming your spouse for what is causing a reaction in you. Blaming them for your hurt feelings, disappointment, sadness and communicating it in a way that says your spouse is the one with the problem. That the problem is them. Not between the both of you but is because of them.
Complaining is owning your feelings and communicating them in a way the says, I am feeling this way when you do or did x, y, z.
Here’s one example of criticism in marriages
Criticism can take many forms (and can usually include words like “you always” and “you never”) to help illustrate this example, here is one example of how this might look between spouses in a marriage or between couples in a dating relationship.
“You’re always too tired when you get home from work and you never help around the house. What is wrong with you? You never help me around here. And you always take me and what I do for granted.”
In this example, one spouse is taking the stance of expressing their hurt and frustration by putting the ownership on the other spouse. By saying it’s their fault for their upset. Saying that there must be something wrong with him or her.
Here’s one example of how to take criticism and turn it into a complaint
Complaints are about what you are feeling. It’s about what is happening between the both of you that is causing frustration, disappointment, sadness, etc. It’s about saying there is a problem between us that I need to be addressed so that we can find a different way moving forward.
“I’ve noticed the last few nights that each time you come home from work you go straight to couch and start watching t.v. It makes me feel like you don’t want to spend time with me or ask what you can do to help me. And that hurts my feelings. I need you to talk with me when you get home.”
In this example, one spouse is taking the stance of expressing their hurt feelings and frustration by keeping the ownership on him or herself and saying what him or her needs and feels.
In this example of how to complain…the receiving partner can then take ownership of their actions and the both of you can understand each other a little more moving forward. And know how to take care of each other moving forward.
For example: a constructive way for a partner to respond to this complaint could be:
“You know you’re right, I have been coming home lately and not talking to you. I’ve been really stressed out at work and overwhelmed so when I get home I just need a little down time and not talk to anyone. But I wasn’t aware of how that was affecting you and now I know. So, let’s talk about what we both need during these times…”
In this example, the “problem” is between the both of them and they can figure out together what each needs moving forward.
Therapy Can Help You Learn How To Communicate More Effectively
If you’d like help in your marriage with how to communicate more effectively or how not to criticize and learn how to complain effectively in your marriage, please reach out. I can help and we can begin working with each other sooner rather than late. Please don’t wait any longer to get the help you’re looking for. Call or email me today…