When you think of divorce or a break-up what is the first thing you think couples say?
- Money disagreements?
- Not enough sex?
- Just not in love anymore?
- My partner bored me?
- We don’t have anything in common?
- Partners who lie or cheat?
While all of these answers may be partially true but what we have found to be the real underlying problem is that people do not feel heard, understood, and valued and most often this shows up as criticism from your partner.
Criticism and all the hurt feeling that go with it can suck the life out of your relationship and eventually kill the relationship. Criticism is a sneaky way of ruining a loving relationship. It is different that cheating or lying because criticism is often excused as harmless bickering or nagging and is widely accepted by people as “just a normal part of life”.
Other words and actions for criticism: teasing, nagging, passive aggressive behavior, complaining about your partner to others.
Humans have the innate need to feel love and accepted. Criticism is not acceptance!
Think back to when you were fist in love and how that felt. You did not notice all the faults of your partner. Or if you did you decided you loved them anyway and would just ignore it. Now several years later, you notice every little thing your partner does wrong or doesn’t do and you make sure that you tell them either with words or actions that you do not like it.
Criticism let’s your partner know that you do not accept them for how they are and that you are not happy with the way things are going. This does not foster feelings of love and caring. In fact, criticizing your partner will drive a deep wedge between you causing the partner being criticized to disengage from the relationship and this is where the major trouble happens.
The criticism trap causes couples to start looking for other ways to feel fulfilled and successful. They may begin to spend more time with friends seeking happiness, companionship, belonging, and acceptance. It may also cause some people to become workaholics. They may even begin new hobbies or start to play sports. Unfortunately, this may also lead to infidelity and divorce.
If criticism is not corrected and allowed to happen the love and joy will exit the relationship leaving room for hate, disgust, and distance between partners.
There is hope! If you are in this type of relationship there are several things you can do to bring love back to life.
Simply… Just stop the criticism!
Trust me when I say I understand this may be harder than you think. I grew up in a home where criticism was a normal every conversation experience. I do not blame any of my family for this, as it was “just the way life was back then”. But I knew that I did not want to live my life in a negative environment and I wanted love. I often found myself critical of something my husband did or did not do and I would just “bug him” about it. Little did I know after years of doing it that I hurt him every time I did this. He finally told me how it made him feel. While pondering this event it occurred to me that others are doing the same thing. This will destroy your marriage if you do not stop.
Some simple steps to help you.
#1- Give appreciation and praise- look for the good things your spouse does and then say thank you!
#2- In the Disney movie Bambi: Thumper’s mother said it best… “If you can’t say something nice. Don’t say anything at all”.
#3- Don’t forget to say I love you and spend time together!