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Are We Complimenting or Criticizing Our Spouse?

Aug 19, 2008
Take an in depth look at your marriage; would your spouse say that you are critical or complimentary? In most cases that I have seen, the spouses said that their partners were more critical.

If we really think about it, we are not shy about telling our love ones what we dislike about them. We inform them when they have done something wrong, disappointed us, hurt our feelings or when we are dissatisfied about an issue.

On the other hand, we hesitate to tell them the good stuff, or to compliment them for doing something right. We may think that our spouse look good in a particular outfit, but we fail to tell them. We may love the meal that they prepared, but forgot to positively comment on it. When they come home early to spend time with the family, we complain about the amount of time we spend apart, instead of being thankful.

Your spouse may decide to have sex a little more often just to please you, but instead you complain about the same positions all the time. In other words, before we appreciate the things that they do, we highlight the things that they don't do.

In our marriage, we sometimes confuse assertiveness with criticism. Even though there is a time a place for being critical; if we want to positively influence the people around us, there are other ways to do it.

Studies have shown that the most effective way to bring about behavioral change is to positively reward or reinforce the person when they are doing what we want them to do. When compliments, hugs, a note of thanks or appreciation is given at the time of an occurrence, it brings about change much more effectively than complaining or repeated discussions of unhappiness.

Joan constantly complained about Michael's lack of attentiveness to their 9 month old baby. So he decided to help out a little bit more. He began changing diapers and preparing bottles more often.

Even though Joan saw his efforts, she complained about him not doing it the way she does. And of course, this discouraged Michael. He told her to do it herself since she knows more about this type of stuff than he does.

Joan became angry. In talking to her, I suggested that she apologize to Michael for being critical and find as many reasons to compliment him as possible.

She accepted my recommendations and began complimenting him more. Every time he did something for the baby, she would either smile or say something that she knew he would like.

The more she encouraged him, the more he reached out to both her and the baby.

After a few weeks, Michael was delighted to leave work and rush home to take care of their little baby.

Their relationship improved tremendously.

When you encourage small steps and make your spouse feel good about him or herself, then he/she would be more willing to please you. And maybe, with some luck, he/she may just get it "right".
About the Author
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