In American society we have a stereotype that it is women who “nag their partner”. However the truth is that men fall into this pattern every bit as often as women do. Either partner can fall into a habit of frequently criticizing the other. It is a common pattern to fall into … but not a healthy one or a sustainable one.
If you are frequently critical of your beloved, you might often say things like: “You didn’t get the car in for service last week, and you said you were going to!” Or you might comment: “Why don’t you ever check the kid’s homework, you always leave it for me to do it!” In the very way you approach the topic you are filing complaints. That is a problem in and of itself, because no one likes to be on the receiving end of the complaint. If you file a complaint, your partner is far more likely to be defensive in response. So, the first thing that you can do is rephrase the thing you want to say and make a request instead of filing a complaint. Instead of saying “Why don’t you ever check the kids’ homework?” say “It would be really helpful to me if you could help me check the kids’ homework every night.” This is much easier for your beloved to receive.
Underneath a pattern of critical behavior in a relationship is usually an individual who has an insecurity or anxiety either in themselves or in their bond with their partner. There is usually a deeper need that needs to be identified and met in the relationship. Perhaps they need their partner to be more consistent or more reliable. Or perhaps they need their partner to be more emotionally engaged. There is usually some kind of unmet need that is keeping them in a tense state. Once that need can be identified, then they can start to soften and relax and feel more secure in the relationship.
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