Category Archives: balance

Complaining Constructively

Complaining Constructively

Communicating needs and complaints with you partner early, can help protect against resentment. However, many of my clients struggle to bring up complaints in a way that their partner can hear and understand. Some “pick their battles” too carefully, because they are afraid that bringing up complaints will lead to conflict. Others are afraid to follow up with their partner about their complaints because they do not want to be a “nag”. These concerns are valid! While you cannot control how your partner will respond to your complaint, it is possible to communicate in a respectful way that can help improve your relationship. Here are some things to consider when you are bringing up a complaint to your partner.

State one complaint at a time

Bringing up a laundry list of complaints all at once can make your partner feel attacked and hopeless. Think about it! If your partner told you fifteen things you were “doing wrong”, wouldn’t you feel overwhelmed and defeated? To help prevent your partner from getting defensive or shutting down, you can focus on one complaint at a time. Want to take this a step further? Try focusing only on present complaints. Telling your partner that they have been doing the thing that is bothering you “for years” can elicit the same hopeless feeling.

Check in with yourself

It is helpful to check in with your own emotional state, before bringing up a complaint to your partner. You may be feeling frustrated, angry, or hurt by them. Allowing yourself to experience and move through these emotions before entering into a conversation will ensure that you are communicating from a centered place. Remember, you are bringing up a complaint to your partner because you want to improve your relationship, not to judge them or make them feel bad.

Communicate a positive need

Most of my clients do a great job stating complaints, but are unclear about what they need from their partner to make things better. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you are complaining to your partner because they do not help out enough with the housework, but you aren’t clear that you really want them to do the dishes and vacuum. Maybe your partner responds to your complaint by taking out the trash. It is likely that you will miss their attempt to be more helpful because you are still focused on the fact that the dishes aren’t done and the floor isn’t vacuumed. Instead of just focusing on what is not happening, try focusing on what would make things better for you moving forward!

Help your partner follow through

In my experience, bringing up a complaint is rarely a one time conversation. Changing our behavior is hard! It takes time as well as trial-and-error. For this reason, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate your partner’s small steps towards resolving your complaint as opposed to focusing on the times they do not follow through or only partly follow through. This is the best way to get more of what you want from your partner!

About the Author:

Online counseling for betrayalMichaela Standhart is a Marriage and Family Therapist Candidate. She specializes in couples therapy and betrayal trauma. Michaela stays sane while practicing social distancing by reminding herself how happy her dog is.

Finding Alone Time During COVID

Finding Alone Time During COVID

Finding alone time is important.  But that can be really difficult in the age of social distancing where you work, relax, and hangout all in the same spot with your family or roommates.  While some people are struggling with isolation, it can be hard to find time alone if you live with family or a significant other.  So here are a… Continue Reading

Staying Connected with your Partner During COVID-19

Staying Connected with your Partner During COVID-19

In conversations with my clients I have heard one of two things, either COVID-19 has made them feel closer than ever to their partner, or it has put a tremendous strain on their relationship. Maybe you and your partner are learning to balance working from home and homeschooling your children. Perhaps you are an extravert,… Continue Reading

Self-Love: It’s More than You Think!

Self-Love: It’s More than You Think!

When I ask my clients what self-love means to them, they often respond with the words selfishness, arrogance, and self-absorption. With Valentine’s Day approaching, decided to take some time to define this term and give readers the opportunity to look honestly at themselves and their behaviors. Below are some suggestions for how you can start… Continue Reading

How to Maintain Balance During the Holiday Season

How to Maintain Balance During the Holiday Season

A pattern that I have observed within my clients and myself is using the holidays as an excuse for overindulgence. However, behaviors such as overeating, binge drinking, excessive spending, and failing to maintain interpersonal boundaries can lead to us feeling fatigued and out of balance as we enter the new year. Here are some self-care… Continue Reading

Start Your Year With an Early Spring Cleaning in Your Marriage

Start Your Year With an Early Spring Cleaning in Your Marriage

New year, new life! isn’t the expectation? We make plans for what we want to change and what we want to keep for the new year. When spring time is about to start we get energized to clean up the clutter in our lives. Also because no one wants to do anything in the winter.… Continue Reading

The Art of Balance: Managing Your Work and Family Life

The Art of Balance: Managing Your Work and Family Life

In the average day, most working parents are forced to choose between numerous priorities that fill their schedule.  However, as you may have found, there are days when 24 hours isn’t enough time to meet all these demands and you find yourself pulled in different directions.  Do you miss date night so you can work… Continue Reading

Tips to Finally Stop Your Toxic Relationships

Tips to Finally Stop Your Toxic Relationships

For most of us, relationships are our foundation; they give our life purpose and meaning.  But not all relationships are positive.  If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship, you understand the damage they can do.  Your self-worth is challenged by the other person’s criticalness, you often feel judged, and you feel used.  While you… Continue Reading

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