Do You Criticize Or Compliment Your Spouse?
It is not unusual for a partner to lash out by criticizing their spouse sometimes after a tough day. It is healthy to realize that something hurtful was said and apologize quickly. You may feel stung as a partner on the receiving end of the critical words, but hopefully, you can empathize with a hard day and accept a heartfelt apology. If criticism shows up occasionally like this in a relationship, it is not a cause for concern unless criticism escalates to becoming a habit where consequences can be devastating.
To compliment is an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration.
To criticize is to find fault with or point out one's flaws.
The Difference between criticism and constructive feedback
For a relationship to function well, feedback must be given and accepted. There is a line between constructive feedback and criticism. Healthy feedback is about behavior and not a person. We can let our partner know what we think or feel without criticizing them individually. An example would be, "I'm worried about eating too much fat in our diet. Can we talk about how we might eat healthier?
On the other hand, criticism lends itself to commenting on a partner's character or personality and is often extreme and non-specific. For example, "You're lazy and always cook with a lot of fat, like fried food and food drenched with butter, and never cook healthily. You don't even care if it kills us!". Criticism usually contains words like always and never as part of the accusation.
This type of delivery kills our message's value and makes the feedback pointless.
The Effects of Criticism on your Marriage
Our critical side can raise its ugly head during stress or frustration, making it a difficult habit to break. Understanding the effect criticism has on your partner and the shared bond may encourage you to reexamine your ways.
It breaks down your partner's self-esteem.
As anyone who receives criticism knows, these statements cut deeply. Repeated criticism can shake one's confidence and cause doubt about the ability to perform. If criticism comes from someone who is supposed to love us, we begin to believe that what they say must be valid. It raises questions about our value and worth.
It erodes trust.
Frequent criticism feels like betrayal and violates the implied promise of protection from hurt made in the formation of the relationship.
How to break the cycle of constant criticism
- Stop trying to change your spouse.
Trying to force your spouse to change can cause more harm than good. Couples changing and growing should happen naturally, not something you should push. Encouraging self-improvement is an admirable quality of a supportive partner.
- Treat your partner with Respect.
Respect indicates that your feelings, happiness, and welfare are essential to your partner and promote trust, appreciation, empathy, and safety. A mission to change your spouse is disrespectful to them and your relationship. It can break down their self-esteem, hurt their feelings, and demean their sense of self.
- Stop pushing your partner away.
Personal growth is fantastic. Everyone has things on which they could work. Changing behaviors and responses for your partner is sometimes a good thing. But if you constantly try to change your partner, you disrespect them and send a message that what they offer you isn't good enough, and distance is created.
- Put yourself in your partner’s shoes
Realize that you wouldn't accept someone criticizing you. Think about how it would feel if your partner constantly told you that you need to change. Nobody likes to be picked apart and told what to do all the time. Demanding change from your spouse can leave them feeling unworthy and leave you emotionally exhausted and unsatisfied.
Tips to stop criticism.
The antidote to criticism is to use a soft, gentle manner to complain without blame.
Decide the kind of person and spouse you want to be and how you want that reflected in your marriage. If you are serious about removing criticism from your marriage, decide and commit to working on your part.
- Discuss your feelings using "I" statements and expressing a positive need. Avoid using "you" statements and expressing negative judgment, which will make your partner feel attacked.
- Focus on the positive aspects of your partner instead of the negative.
- Do what it takes to stop finding fault, belittling, nit-picking, cutting down, or chastising your partner. It takes work to accept your partner, even their annoying traits, bad habits that aren't harmful, quirks, and idiosyncrasies.
- Think about why you married your spouse and praise their good qualities.
Resign yourself to the fact that you will not change your partner. Observe any behavior changes in your partner. Without criticism in your marriage relationship, see if your partner is more interactive, lively, open, or spontaneous and seems more relaxed.
There are resources available from the Marriage in a Box website in the form of a toolbox, The Marriage in a Box toolbox and coaching can both help you and your partner change how you relate to each other. Marriage in a box tools and resources can provide tips to communicate effectively. Feel free to check out the available kit, resources, and counselors online at ttps://www.marriageinabox.com.
Research shows that you will be on the road to change if you apply new behaviors for thirty consecutive days. Everyone deserves to live in a criticism-free environment.Learn more about our Couples Therapy Exercises