Criticism is a common issue in relationships, and it can be especially damaging when it becomes a pattern of behavior. Criticism is when we attack our partner’s character or personality, rather than addressing a specific behavior. For example, saying “you’re so lazy” is a criticism, while saying “I feel frustrated when the dishes aren’t done” is not.
Criticism can be especially damaging to a relationship because it can make our partner feel attack and defensive. When we criticize our partner, we are effectively telling them that there is something wrong with them as a person. This can lead to feelings of hurt, resentment, and even low self-esteem. Over time, criticism can erode the emotional connection between two people and can lead to feelings of distance and disconnection.
So, how can we overcome criticism in our relationships and build a stronger, more positive connection with our partner? Here are some tips from Gottman couples therapy:
- Focus on specific behaviors: Instead of attacking our partner’s character, we can focus on specific behaviors that are causing problems in our relationship. For example, instead of saying “you’re lazy,” we can say “I feel frustrated when the dishes aren’t done.” This allows us to express our feelings and needs without attacking our partner.
- Use “I” statements: An “I” statement is a way of expressing our thoughts and feelings in a way that is non-blaming and non-accusatory. For example, instead of saying “you never listen to me,” we can say “I feel unheard when you don’t listen to me.” This allows us to express our feelings without attacking our partner.
- Practice active listening: Active listening involves fully paying attention to what our partner is saying, without interrupting or reacting defensively. When we actively listen to our partner, we are more likely to understand their perspective and to feel more connected to them.
- Practice forgiveness: When we hold onto resentment or grudges, it can be easy to fall into the pattern of criticizing our partner. By learning to forgive and let go of resentment, we can build a stronger, more positive connection with our partner.
In summary, criticism can be damaging to a relationship and can lead to feelings of hurt, resentment, and disconnection. By focusing on specific behaviors, using “I” statements, practicing active listening, and learning to forgive, we can overcome criticism and build a stronger, more positive connection with our partner.