When living with your partner, you will most likely share many things such as your bed, your finances, household chores, raising children, having pets, common friends, etc., how could you not have some complaints about your partner once in a while even though you love them. It reminds me of a movie I once watched and the quote seems to be very fitting here “Only because I love you doesn’t mean that I have to like you right now”. I’m also pretty sure that some of you can relate :)
What is important though is to remember that there is a big difference between complaints and criticism. Complaints are focusing on a specific behavior or event whereas criticism is expressing negative feelings or opinions about the other person. Such as, if the dishwasher has not been emptied out when you get home from a long day at work and you think to yourself ‘Geez, why couldn’t he or she just put the dishes away’ and might say these exact words. Most often, we like to add ‘evidentiary support’ such as ‘Well, you never help keep the kitchen clean’ just to strengthen our claim. However, my dear friends, this is considered criticism because it expresses a negative judgment of your partner.
A complaint now would be fine and could be expressed as “Oh I was hoping you get to the dishwasher before I got home” which is a nicer way of saying it and asking for help as constructive criticism is meant to be. Starting a conversation when you get home by using a soft start-up and to complain without blame is a healthy and much more productive way to engage in conflict. I highly recommend reading the book ‘The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work’ by Dr. John Gottman. He is one of the leading relationships experts of our time – hands down!!