Criticism Versus Complaining 

When you need help and your feelings are hurt, or you want to see something change, how do you communicate these issues to your partner?  How you communicate these issues makes a big difference to the relationship and how your partner is likely to feel and respond.

Criticism often places all of the blame on the other person. It usually looks at a situation globally instead of addressing a specific situation. For example, saying, “You never do anything around the house,” when the other person didn’t do the dishes today. Criticism often begins with phrases such as “you never” or “you always.”

Common criticisms are often about chores and money. Criticisms include statements such as, “you don’t ever do your share,” or “you always put your family before me.” Often such statements are due to one person’s frustration being built up over time. Then there’s a “final straw” that causes the person to become critical.

Expressing a specific complaint allows you to address the issue. It describes a problem without placing blame. It also opens up the conversation to a discussion about how to solve the problem. Complaints often start with phrases such as “we” or “I.”

Offer a complaint about a specific situation and bring them up as they arise. Complaints include statements such as, “I’m feeling really overwhelmed with the housework lately,” or “I would like for us to spend more time together.” There’s no blame placed on the other person.

Criticism tends to not be productive. Instead, it is often met with resistance and arguing. It can cause people to focus on the problem instead of the solution.

If you have developed a habit of becoming critical of your partner, learn how to identify complaints as they arise. Stay focused on the current issue and don’t place blame on your partner. Instead, invite your partner to participate in problem-solving so the two of you can develop a solution together. Marriage counseling can be helpful to couples who struggle to mange their conflict effectively on their own.

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