A Guide to Dealing With Criticism in a Relationship

Relationships can change from being fulfilling to fragile in a short time. One of the major reasons that have been attributed to it is criticism. In a general context, criticism is not always a negative one. When it gets classified as a character flaw is when the real issue arises. 

According to experts, wrongful criticism is one of the major causes of fallout in a relationship. It is not human nature to accept any form of blaming calmly. Therefore, this article deals with the ideal way to deal with criticism in a relationship.

Here is everything you need to know about dealing with criticism in a relationship

How do criticism and complaint differ?

Even though there is a fine line between criticism and complaint, it is something that can make or break a relationship. Generally, when certain absolute words are used or when they are very harsh, it becomes criticism which can be the reason for friction.

Phrases like “You Never” or “You always” are laced with negativity. Therefore, as a couple, you should avoid talking in such terms with your partner to avoid it affecting your relationship.

How is criticism going to harm a relationship?

There are many ways in which criticism can be detrimental to a relationship. A few significant ones include-

  • Hurting the self-esteem of your partner.
  • Questioning the trust
  • Massive reduction in intimacy
  • Drives your partner towards developing an inferiority complex
  • Ineffective in changing your partner’s mentality.
  • It can convert into emotional abuse

Here is a brief insight into the points mentioned above.

Hurting the self-esteem of your partner

There is an old saying that words cut deeper than the sword. Continuous criticism substantiates this statement even more. It can chip away the self-esteem of your partner to the point where they will start to doubt themselves.

Your partner values your words more than anyone else. They start thinking that if you are saying so, you must be right. The negative impact that this can cause is monumental.

Questioning the trust

When you love someone, you develop a bond or attachment with that person ensuring that you will care about their feelings and not hurt them.

Constant criticism is like going against that promise itself. It tends to question everything in a relationship, including the trust that is built over some time.

Massive reduction in intimacy

When there is criticism in a relationship, it takes away the emotions and warmth from it. It creates a sense of resentment and anger between you and your partner.

Since physical intimacy is generally associated with how your person feels about you, there is a massive dent in it as well. It acts as a catalyst and spirals down your relationship even more.

Drives your partner towards developing an inferiority complex

When you criticize your partner more than required, you tend to put yourself in a superior position.

They can develop an inferiority complex as they feel that they lack in skill or they are not as smart as you. Even though this can start as something small, it slowly increases its intensity and can have longer-lasting damages.

Ineffective in changing your partner’s mentality

There are very few people who take criticism as something constructive. Their guard goes up immediately and they become defensive.

So anything you say is not going to be convincing and they are not going to listen to you. Therefore, anything you say is not going to change the mentality of your partner in any way.

It can convert into emotional abuse

Since criticism can affect a person emotionally, when it happens for a longer time it can turn into emotional abuse for your partner.

When it does exceed the limit, the repercussions of it might be even more massive than you can fathom. Therefore, letting it compound over some time can do a lot of harm.

How should you react if you think you are being criticized?

Yes, criticism can be destructive in a relationship. However, if it is handled the right way, the issue can be averted. A few ways of reacting to being criticized are-

Listen first before reacting

One of the biggest mistakes that most people make is that they do not develop the habit of listening. They tend to get upset over what has been told to them and react in a split second.

This hurried reaction is uncalled for, more often than not. Instead, develop the habit of being a good listener. Not only will it clear the perspective of what your partner is trying to say but it can also save a relationship from crumbling.

Ask your partner valid questions

You need to accept the fact that your partner has some kind of grievance with you. This is making him or her criticize you more than required.

It is important to find out what the issues are exactly. This can only be done by setting up effective communication between the two parties. Asking questions that are valid and relevant can go a long way in doing so.

Try to understand their point of view

It is very important to walk the path in your partner’s shoes when you are in a relationship. Only then will you understand the root cause or source of all problems and how it is affecting what both of you have.

Therefore, keep a calm and composed mind and think from their point of view, what they must be thinking. This can help to thwart away criticism as well as its ill effects on a relationship.

Do not get too defensive

This is just a reiteration of the aforementioned point that when you get criticized, you let your guards up immediately. Your mind perceives that something is amiss and brings out its defenses. The problem with doing so is that you will not be able to understand what your partner is trying to say.

The chances of miscommunication will increase and anything he or she says, you are going to stand up against it. The friction is only going to increase even more. Therefore, remember to be a little more open-minded whenever criticism is guided your way. 

If you feel you are wrong, try to rectify it

This is one way of dealing with criticism that requires you to be extremely sensitive and mature. It is imperative to accept the fact that you are not always right. Maybe, this time your partner has some valid reason for directing some criticism towards you.

You must retrospect and think. For example, you may not be helping with the chores in the house which is overburdening your partner and making them angry. Their way of portraying anger might be through criticism itself. Identify these issues prematurely and rectify them.

Try to solve the problem cordially.

When the frustration builds up, the criticism can transcend to insulting and name-calling. Psychologists have pointed out the fact that sometimes something as simple criticism can escalate to a verbal or physical altercation which can break a long-standing relationship as well.

Therefore, keep a minimum amount of respect intact for each other and try to iron out the differences in a cordial manner.

How should you shift the criticism to make the relationship healthy again?

These are some steps that you can take to shift the blame and criticism into something constructive. It can play an important role in making a broken relationship healthy again.

Share your feelings with your partner

Sharing thoughts and opinions are an integral part of any relationship. If basic communication is not established, it can result in a lot of misunderstandings.

Do not bottle up what is inside you as it can aggravate the ill feelings even further. Say what you feel but in a calm and composed manner.

Accept and learn

All humans make mistakes. It is not a crime to accept them. Having too much ego and pride and not accepting even when the mistake is evident from your side is not a proper approach.

Instead, learn from them and try to identify why. Once that is done, the chances of repeating the mistake also reduce.

Know what you can control and what you cannot

Some things in life are destined to be. They are not under the control of anyone. Do not break your head over it as it is only going to make things worse. Instead, identify the things that are in your hands and concentrate on working on them to make things better.

Know that having different opinions is normal in a relationship

Even though you are partners, there is no denying the fact that you both are two different people. No two people can have a similar point of view or opinion about anything.

It is normal for two people, even if they are partners, to not agree on something. However, you should make sure that these differences do not turn out to be points of concern. You should also be respectful of each other’s opinions even if they do not match.

Support each other

The essence of a true relationship is to support each other and be there for your partner whenever required.

Even if there is criticism involved, both of you should work towards solving it. Your partner might need some help in rectification. The same goes for as well. Make the work easier by supporting each other.

Appreciate

Just like criticism has its negative implications, appreciation has positive ones. It does exactly the opposite of what criticism does, that is, it improves your partner’s self-esteem and confidence and makes them look at things with a newfound interest.

The love and emotional connection with the partner have also enhanced my appreciation.

Know that you have valuable contributions to make as well

It is not only the appreciation from your partner that matters. Sometimes, it becomes really difficult to see the good in oneself.

Self-appreciation can be instrumental in this aspect. Make a list of the contributions that you make in your partner’s or someone else’s life to make it better. This will increase your self-worth manifolds.

Listen to your inner voice

Your inner voice is the consciousness that you fester inside of you. It is mostly favoring towards you and can give you the boost in self-confidence that you need. Listen to it more often and use it to crush any questions of self-worth that might be raised against you.

Learn to forgive and forget in a relationship

This is an important part of any relationship, irrespective of the depth of it. Some even consider it to be the basic pillar on which relationships stand. Your partner might have made a mistake, may not be the perfect one.

However, if you are happy with him or her then learn to forgive them. Even after forgiving, do not hold on to the grudges. Forget them in the truest sense of the term.

Don’t try to change your partner, let them be themselves

A person is always the best version of themselves when they are natural. Even if there are some aspects of your partner that you do not appreciate, do not be overzealous to bring in a change in them. Everyone finds change repulsive and it is going to make matters worse.

Keep some period when you consciously try not to criticize

If you feel that there is something about your partner that you don’t like and you are constantly criticizing them, take a conscious decision to take a break from it. Keep a stipulated amount of time where you do not be critical of anything.

Be thankful

Many people are looking for love and a suitable partner. You are among the lucky ones if you have already found yours. You should be thankful for it. One way of showing appreciation is to shower your partner with gifts and love from time to time.

Having a good relationship is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Criticism is something that can creep in and destroy everything. It is important to know where to draw the line so that its impact on the relationship is not long-lasting.

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