One of the most destructive interactions that you can have in your relationship is criticism.
Criticizing your partner leaves him/her feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with who they are.
You will know you are criticizing when you use words like ‘always’ and ‘never.’
(E.g., “You always do this…and you never do that…”)
You will know you are criticizing when you blame your partner for what is happening.
You will know are criticizing when you judge your partner.
For many people, criticism is hard to come back from.
When you want to criticize, trying using a different approach — one that will convey the message without attacking your partner.
Complain (but gently) — say exactly what is not working for you.
If you complain rather than criticize you are likely to minimise defensive reactions and emotional shutdowns in your partner.
What you can do:
- Pick a time when your partner is likely to listen.
- Use “I” words to describe what is bothering you.
- Be specific – Describe exactly what is happening and what you would like to happen.
- Say “I need you to do X” rather than “You never do X.”
Information adapted from Gottman, J. (2001). The Relationship Cure. New York: Crown Publishers.