Why Do Marriages Fail (Part 9)
Today we are going to discuss voicing critism of oneís spouse. Criticism of oneís spouse is an invetable part of marriage. However, what decides whether such criticism is effective is how it is delivered. Harsh criticism can leave hostility which can last for days, if not even longer. But criticism with different wording and a different tone would be more likely to be considered and accepted.
Ensure that your positive comments outweigh your negative ones by a wide margin to reduce and even pre-empt any hositility from your spouse. This is because negative words have influence significantly out of proportion to the time it talk to speak them. Remember it is far easier to undermine a relationship than to maintain it.
The Illusion of Perfection
Expecting oneí partner to be perfect is based on the false belief that oneís own criteria is correct. While there are undoubtly certain absolute standards of conduct such as honesty and courtesy etc. there is an inexhaustible supply of other things which are highly subjective. Seeing these as being absolute standards of conduct will only result in an equally inexhaustibtle barrage of criticism. While it is difficult to prioritise what is important or not, it is certain that a lack of prioritisation will only destroy a relationship
So here a few guidelines on how to communicate areas of concern with spouse:
Criticise actions not the person: Contrary to popular belief actions are not necessarily a reflection of what a person is trully capable of. Criticism should therefore be directed at showing what the person is capable of doing right rather than what he or she is doing wrong without negative sweeping generalisations of your partnerís personality.
Express your feelings and faults: When one feels pain the tendency is to lash out at that source of that pain. If that person is your spouse then they will feel under personal attack. To avoid this internalise your pain by expressing your feelings. This will deflect any criticism of your partner while drawing attention to what is the source of your distress.
Explain your feelings: When one is flooded with negative feelings one makes the assumption that oneís partner automatically understands their emotions. And since these feelings are negative one also believes that oneís partnerís intent was malicious. It is vital to explain what is bothering you while trying to ferret what are your partnerís true motives.
Do not generalize: Avoid resentment building up as this inevitably leads to generalisations which are not only inacurrate but will only invoke retaliation from your spouse who will feel both demeaned and angry. Instead remove sweeping assessments and replace them will a more balanced appraisal of your partnerís actions.
Constructive Criticism: Constructive criticism is designed to empower the listener while destructive criticism puts him or her down. Destructive criticism focus on what what went wrong. Constructive criticism is a guide on what your partner can do right. By its very nature constructive constructive pre-empts defensive responses from your partner while ensuring a greater likelihood of compliance which is not akin to surrender.
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