Complain Don’t Blame

Every now-and-then something comes along in every relationship that bothers you and makes you unhappy, but when you start talking about it, before you know it, war has broken out! You are tense, angry and confused. You think to yourself, “Why can’t s/he understand that s/he is wrong?”

I will tell you the problem. You are blaming your partner, not complaining about what they did. A complaint is about the action, blaming or criticizing is aimed at the person and their character.

When you tell me that I forgot to set the alarm before I left the house, I can be receptive. When you tell me that I am irresponsible and don’t care about our home, I am insulted, defensive and need to attack you to defend my honor.

Here are a few examples I read in 10 Lessons To Transform Your Marriage:

Try … Instead of …
I thought we were going to have a romantic evening together and you invited your friend. I feel so hurt and disappointed. I thought we were going to have a romantic evening together and you invited your friend. How can you be such a clueless, insensitive idiot?
We haven’t been able to afford a vacation in two years. Maybe we should work out a better budget. It’s all your fault that we can’t afford a vacation. You waste our money on stupid things.
You set your glass on the coffee table last night and now there is ring. You haven’t done the laundry in two years, the lawn needs mowing, and you never cleaned the garage like you said you would.

Express your needs in a way that is respectful, clear, specific and immediate. This way your partner will be more open to hearing your complaint and responding positively. Do it right and you will be able to solve problems, build intimacy and strengthen your relationship.

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