My intern, Connie Wesley, pointed out early this morning that the Today Show aired a story about the importance of complaining to having a long-lasting romantic relationship! You can see it here at: http://www.today.com/health/complaining-could-be-secret-happy-relationship-t24516. Definitely true. In fact, I have at times given couples the homework to complain more and fight more. Don’t hold it in! Part of intimacy is knowing stuff about your partner, including what they like and don’t like about you.
So, I was talking about this at the dinner table tonight, and my husband and kids were encouraging me to write the Today Show to tell them there is a great follow-up to the story! Because, it makes sense that the complaints help the relationship to what extent they are resolved. And, in fact, I would add that in relationships in which complaints do not get resolved – well, that is often when people stop complaining. What’s the point of filing a complaint if your significant other’s Customer Service Counter is never open? So, it stands to reason that the couples who feel that complaints are heard and resolved instead of dismissed and devalued are the couples who stay together. Although complaints are positive in general, they are a huge problem within relationships when one or both partners do not have an effective Customer Service Counter for their Significant Other™.
To the contrary, those couples who are benefiting from complaints have found some way to resolve them at the Relationship Repair Counter™. There are many strategies that we can use in our relationships to improve the effectiveness of our complaint resolution, which is the real key to complaints becoming an important part of a lasting romantic relationship.