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Criticism vs. Complaint

Whitney Emrick

Angry millennial couple arguing shouting blaming each other of problemsIn the past two months, we have been in close quarters with our partners and noticed some cute and some not so cute habits of theirs… Or maybe things were rocky before sheltering in place, and now those issues have been amplified. Believe it or not, arguing and fighting are part of healthy relationships. Relationships are two humans trying to merge a life together… Of course there will be disagreements and issues that arise! But, did you know there are ways to fight that overcome the problem more successfully?

John Gottman is an author, psychologist & researcher, who has studied marriage for over forty years. He has a vast database and has collected different techniques that can make or break a relationship. Here are a few findings from his research.

Criticism Vs. Complaining: It is normal to have complaints or aspects of your partner that you are not fond of. But, it’s how you address the issue that makes all the difference. Complaining is bringing up the issue, criticism is pointing out your partner’s character flaws that relate to the issue. Here is an example.

Criticism: “You are always late, you do not care about anyone else’s time but yours.”

Complaint: “It makes me really nervous when we run late to events, would that be okay if we left a bit earlier next time so I won’t have anxiety?”

The difference is to state how you are feeling, the event or situation that is causing the feeling, and lastly a reasonable solution to the problem. Your partner might not be receptive to the solution, but it starts the conversation for peaceful negotiation.

Stay tuned for more of Gottman’s findings and relationship tips!

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