Communication advice to stop the nagging and criticizing.
Nobody likes to be criticized. Let's face it-- most of us overload ourselves with negative judgments a lot of the time.
When your partner regularly lumps on his or her nags, put downs and “advice” for how you might do things better, it can be a heavy and crippling load to carry.
The combination of your own criticisms with your partner's put downs can cause your self esteem to dip even lower and intensify conflict between the two of you.
Perhaps you've already tried to stop your partner's put downs. Maybe you've become defensive and explained why you made certain decisions or maybe you've gone on the offensive and attacked your mate for his or her habits.
You may have tried to tell your partner how much it annoys or hurts you to be criticized or nagged...
And none of this worked!
In your eyes, your partner continues to find fault in whatever you do (or don't do). It feels like you can't do anything right, on time or in the way you “should” do it.
This is a recipe for big problems in your relationship!
While it may seem that your partner's put downs are what's driving you two apart-- and making you feel horrible about yourself-- it's actually usually more complicated than that.
Relationships are all about dynamics. In the vast majority of cases, there are two people contributing to the conflict and disconnection. This is actually good news, because it means that you aren't helpless to the situation.
You can take steps to stop your partner's nagging and put downs and here's how to get started...
#1) Look at your role.
Yes, this is uncomfortable and it might not be easy to see either. Nonetheless, it's so important for you to acknowledge the role that you play in this destructive dynamic.
Look at yourself as a co-creator of an unwanted habit instead of as a victim of your partner's criticisms.
If you have reliable information about why your partner might be so critical, such as his or her childhood experiences or own insecurities, acknowledge that as well. Be sure that you are also looking at your tendencies too.
Do you have a habit of diminishing your achievements or highlighting the one thing that is “wrong” about yourself or a project you've done? Do you have a history of nagging or putting down your partner? Is at least some of what your partner is saying about you or your behavior true?
Take an honest look at your own habits and see how they might trigger or fuel this relationship dynamic going on. Do this with as much kindness and love as you can.
With this learning, you can start to change your habits that co-create an environment of criticism in your relationship.
#2) Set boundaries.
We urge you to keep your own habits in mind and to take ownership for your role in the dynamic. We also encourage you to stop the criticisms when they start. Setting boundaries may be necessary.
Pause and make careful choices about what you are about to say. If a put down-- about your partner or yourself-- is about to come out of your mouth, STOP! Remember, YOU are the one who sets the example of how you want to be treated.
Treat yourself with respect and appreciation and this will be a powerful demonstration for your mate.
If your partner goes ahead and criticizes you or something you've done, we also advise you to pause. Before accusing him or her of putting you down, try to get clear. Could you be misunderstanding what was being said? Does he or she have a valid point?
If it's a pretty clear criticism and you did not ask for your partner's opinion, then it's definitely time to set a boundary. Ask your partner to stop. Let him or her know that you didn't ask for a criticism, advice or a “friendly reminder.”
You can use words like this, “I love you and I will ask for your opinion about this when I want it. Right now and in this situation, it is important to me to rely on my own judgment.”
If your partner's words feel like an unfair put down, you could say, “Can you please re-phrase what you just said in a way that I can hear and understand? The words you chose feel hurtful and inaccurate to me.”
Feel into yourself for words that are a good fit for what's going on in your life and relationship at the moment. Choose how you set a boundary carefully. You don't have to put your partner down or push him or her away as you are honest and firm.
#3) Ask yourself the tough question...
“Is staying in this relationship healthy and wise for me?”
If your partner's put downs feel abusive and there doesn't seem to be any hint of improvement (or a genuine intention for change), then it could be time to assess whether it's in your best interests to stay in or leave the relationship.
As we said, nobody likes to be criticized. Nobody deserves to be continually put down and disrespected either. You don't and your partner doesn't either.
You deserve to co-create the kind of loving, kind and close relationship that you want. Be honest with yourself about whether or not this seems possible with your partner and make the best decision for you.
Find out how to set boundaries, create agreements and say what you really mean AND keep the connection healthy, close and connected in your love relationship or marriage. Click here for Susie and Otto Collins' free "10 Communication Secrets" mini-course.