Complain, But Don’t Criticize

Continuing with 10 Tips to Loving an Imperfect Husband

Tip #6 in the series is this:

Complain, but don’t criticize.

When men feel criticized, and sense our disappointment or disapproval, it goes straight to the core of their being. They deeply long to be enough for us, to be adequate for our needs. They feel respected when they feel they’ve done a good job.

Take the other day. We have a huge pine tree in our yard that is leaning precariously toward the house over our bedroom. We had been planning to have it cut down as one had fallen earlier this year. The tree guy came to our house and my husband went out to get a quote. I was busy writing so I thought I’d leave the bartering to his excellent sales skills. When he came in, I asked him how much it would be and when he answered, I reacted with criticism. “You agreed to what??” Way too much, I thought. Did he come over and give me a big hug and say, “Thank you for your input, love!” Not really. He left fuming and spent the next couple hours working on a project in the den.

Our criticism causes our husbands to feel they have failed. When they feel diminished or feel they’ve failed, what do they do? They typically get angry or withdraw. Our longing to feel loved is not satisfied.

When we have something that we truly need to address, we can complain without criticizing. A complaint doesn’t tear down the character or competency of our mate. To complain, stay focused on the situation, not your spouse: “I get frustrated when you forget to take out the trash when you said you would” vs. “You always forget!”

One last thought: I find that it’s when I’m not feeling good about myself that I become most critical. I tend to project my own internal negativity onto my spouse. Taking time to nurture myself, emotionally and spiritually, can be very helpful in softening the way I respond to my husband.

Check back next week for the next installment of 10 Tips to Loving an Imperfect Husband!

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