The #1 Way To Improve Your Relationship

By

The #1 Way To Improve Your Relationship [EXPERT]
Adopt this approach and watch your relationship flourish.

Hurtful words in a relationship are like a drop of red dye in a glass of water; it turns the whole glass Pink. What starts out as a slip of tongue, a small slight from one person to another, sets a process in motion that slowly (or quickly) permeates a relationship and begins to define its tone.

It's easy to think criticism is a constructive process — one member of a relationship feels he/she knows the other in and out, and in making "suggestions" for how the other might change or improve, he/she is merely helping the other overcome his/her flaws and deficiencies.

 

"You're a handsome man," one might say, "but wouldn't you rather wear a dress shirt than those ratty t-shirts?" He might say "You're always blabbing to your friends on the phone, you should be quiet — read a book or something."

Sometimes this works. Perhaps the other person abides the advice, and adjusts the behavior to make you happy. Other times this doesn't work — "if she doesn't like my clothes, I'm going to wear the outfits she hates most."

Criticism doesn't always take the form of words. It can be a touch, a glare, an eye roll or two hands thrown up in the air. However it comes out, the message is that one person is superior and the other inferior. One person is up, the other person is down. It's an unpleasant feeling for the person down ... a feeling that has its roots in the animal-like parts of our brain, sometimes referred to as our lizard brain.

Harsh words induce a feeling of anxiety. Anxiety, at its roots, is the nervous system responding to a stimulus of danger — the fight or flight response. The response of the criticized person also takes one of these forms: he/she may slink away, play dead in a submissive posture or take on the accuser by fighting back.

Whether criticism is phrased in a gentle way or a cruel way, it comes from the same place of judgment. Unconsciously, the critic believes that his opinion is the only correct one. The way he/she looks at the world is the only reasonable way to see it, and if the partner differs, he/she must have no sense, or taste — in fact, he/she is crazy! The other person, in a way, ceases to be a person, and is instead an object to be molded into the critic's way of looking at the world. Continue reading.

More relationship advice from YourTango:

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by

Harville Hendrix & Helen LaKelly Hunt

Counselor/Therapist

Harville Hendrix, PhD and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Phd are co-creators of Imago Relationship Therapy.  Harville wrote the best-seller "Getting The Love You Want" and together the couple have written many other relationship advice books.  The organization they founded, Imago Relationships International, has 1200 Certified Therapists in over 25 countries.

You can find Imago couples therapy and workshops by visiting www.GettingTheLoveYouWant.com

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: PhD
Other Articles/News by Harville Hendrix & Helen LaKelly Hunt:

Want A Better Marriage? Try Zero Negativity & Zero Nagging

By

Falling in love is amazing! The excitement of meeting someone new brings out the best in all of us; the journey ahead feels like an open road full of possibility… but then something happens: either the relationship starts to feel stale, or perhaps money issues, kids, or trying to figure out a comfortable work-life balance comes into play. Whatever the ... Read more

Curiosity Killed The Cat, But It Can Save Your Marriage

By

Couples trying to revive the romance they felt in the early stages of their relationships sometimes turn to big, headline strategies to demonstrate their affection for their mates. They take exotic vacations, buy expensive gifts or make elaborate Valentine's Day or anniversary efforts in the hopes that with intensive, regularly scheduled maintenance, love ... Read more

See More

 
PARTNER POSTS
Latest Expert Videos
ASK YOURTANGO MORE QUESTIONS
Must-see Videos
SEE MORE VIDEOS
Most Popular