Some people have the idea that it’s not good to bring up relationship complaints or problems! They worry this will create conflict, and there are a whole lot of people in the world who are avoidant of conflict. But here’s the thing, talking about a complaint or a concern that you have does not have to lead to conflict or fighting!
In fact, bring up a concern in the right way can actually make you closer and bring intimacy in your relationship. After all, you want your partner to know the real you. Intimacy is based on know who you really are – even the things that bother you or hurt your feelings. Trust me when I told you that holding your feelings in and bottling things up is never a good long term approach for your relationship.
You will always have some complaints about your partner – that’s a normal part of being in a close relationship with someone. If you are in a marriage or a more serious relationship that means you’re sharing a house, a bank account, and a bed. So, how could you not have some complaints from time to time? However, be careful to bring up complaints in the right way!
There is a world of a difference between a complaint and criticism. According to research by Dr. John Gottman, bringing up complaints as a criticism is a predictor for relationship failure. In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman explains that “a complaint focuses on a specific behavior or event. Criticism is global and expresses negative feelings or opinions about the other person.”
For example, if the kitchen sink is full of dishes when you get home from work and you say to your partner, “Why didn’t you do the dishes? You never keep the kitchen clean,” that’s criticism because it expresses a negative judgment of your partner. On the other hand, a complaint made the right way would simply say, “I am really tired from work, will you do the dishes tonight?” Or, you might say, “When you forget to do the dishes, it makes me feel overhwelmed seeing them in the sink after work. I need to come home and feel like I can rest. It would mean a lot to me if you could do the dishes before I get home.”
Complaints can be constructive and positive for your relationship. YOU are valuable and worthy of having your complaints heard and resolved. You can learn more about how to make complaints the right way and to resolve them in your relationship!