Friday, 3 May 2013

Criticism is Not a Spiritual Gift

Being critical of your spouse can actually lead you onto a short path to divorce. The Gottman Relationship Institute has done years of research on ways to make relationships healthier and they report that criticism is one of the biggest problems in relationships. It appears that husbands who feel criticized by their wives are especially impacted by criticism and it can greatly decrease their marital satisfaction.

There are lots of reasons people try to use to justify their criticism. However, there’s really no excuse. Your spouse doesn’t make you respond with criticism. Instead, you’re in charge of your own behaviors. If you’re guilty of being critical of your spouse, it’s important to learn some new habits before you damage your relationship beyond repair.

Difference Between Honesty and Criticism

Sometimes people mask their criticism by claiming they are just being “honest.” When people say things such as, “I speak my mind. If he’s lazy, I’m going to tell him he’s lazy.” Certainly there’s a difference between honestly expressing your feelings and being overly critical and even cruel.

There’s certainly an art to learning how to express yourself in a tactful way. Often, you can give the same message but by just changing a few words, it won’t come across as nearly as harsh.

Instead of saying, “You’re lazy,” replace it with something like, “I’ve been feeling really tired lately trying to get things done. What can we do to get the rest of these things done?” Use “I” statements and invite your spouse to work with you rather than placing blame.

Practice the Compliments

The Gottman Relationship Institute recommends that couples give one another at least five times as many compliments as criticisms. So, each day make sure you are giving plenty of compliments and positive affirmations. Use criticisms sparingly, if at all.  Even if the criticism is due, it is not usually helpful nor does it often bring about the desired change.

If you aren’t in the habit of giving a lot of positive affirmations, it can take some extra effort at first to hand them out. However, take time to notice the small things and the things your spouse does on a daily basis. Thank your spouse for working so hard each day. Point out when your spouse looks nice. Thank your spouse for a great meal. Once you get used to offering these sorts of praises, they begin to flow much more naturally.

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