4 Principles for Criticism in Your Relationship

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Criticism in Your Relationship

Criticism from someone you love can be particularly hurtful, especially from a romantic partner. However, not all criticism is meant purely to harm.  Many times criticism from our spouse or partner can be helpful and aiding us in recognizing our true selves and making changes to enhance ourselves.

Below are some basic principles in criticism from partners and how they can be beneficial.

Principle 1: Most of your partner’s criticisms of you have some basis in reality.

This may a difficult pill to swallow but the truth of the matter is that much of the criticism you receive from your partner, the one who knows you best, is based in truth. There, of course, is a gentle and constructive way of delivering such criticism. But no matter how the information was expressed, the simple message may hold some truth.  So, the next time your partner gives you criticism, instead of perpetuating an argument, take a moment to think.  Is he or she right on some level?  If so, how do you feel about that?  Are there any steps you can take to change the truth

Principle 2: Many of your repetitious, emotional criticisms of your partner are disguised statements of your own unmet needs.

Communication is an essential yet difficult part of any romantic relationship.  We naturally fear rejection in the face of confrontation, making the communication of our true thoughts and feelings challenging.

Many times, our emotional guards go up and we respond to our unmet needs by misdirecting our emotions. We may be upset that our partner has been neglecting our need for intimacy.  However, rather than clearly communicating this, we criticize our partner’s habit of sitting on the couch after work.  Although the fact that he or she is sitting on the couch instead of demonstrating intimacy, we are incapable and voicing our true gripe.

The next time you feel the urge to criticize your partner’s behavior, take a step back and ponder the true reason for you dissatisfaction.  You may be surprised by what lies behind the emotion.

Principle 3: Some of your repetitive, emotional criticisms of your partner may be an accurate description of a disowned part of yourself.

Have you ever been angry with yourself for not doing something and then yelled at your partner as a reaction?

Similarly, many of the criticisms we regularly fault our partner for may actually be a reflection of our feelings on ourselves.  It is common practice for us to project our own issues onto others as a way of protecting ourselves from hurt.  But this type of avoidance can hinder us from reaching our full potential and negatively affect our relationships.

The next time that you yell at your partner for something again, take a moment to explore your part in the situation.  Are you actually the culprit?  If so, what can be done to end your feelings of upset?

Principle 4: Some of your criticisms of your partner may help you identify your own lost self.

Through our lives, we lose parts of ourselves in the acquisition of more knowledge, social stimulation, and romantic intimacy.  Some of the criticism you hear from your partner may come as shocking.  Your partner says you are uptight but a decade ago, all of your friends labeled you the laid-back one in the group.  Taking a moment to reflect on this disconnect between the image you are portraying and the self-image you hold may help you to unite the aspects of yourself you once lost.

Criticism can be a true growth process if we approach it from a positive, healing perspective and can open us up to a more fulfilling, truthful romantic relationship

(Source: Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D)