I think that we all know what it’s like when we really wish that our spouse/significant other would change something that they are doing. Maybe it’s an annoying habit or a hurtful comment that they say often or…anything really. It can be super frustrating, and it often can lead to arguments, hard feelings, and resentment when things just don’t seem to be changing.
Often, I find myself just blurting out something harsh to my husband because I feel like he deserves it.
“You never help me clean up!”
“You’re always playing video games with your friends instead of spending time with me.”
“It feels like you don’t even care about me!”
These little jabs feel justified at the time, but they actually end up doing more harm than good. They stretch the truth and end up making him feel defensive…which results in another argument. I was able to see this firsthand + a better way to go about it a few months ago. Let me set the stage for you a little bit…
Alex very rarely complains or speaks up about things that are bothering him. However, during a time when I was trying to build my first business, he kept blowing up every few months about the cooking and cleaning. In the middle of a small argument about something else, he would dive into his explosion about how he wished that I would take more time to cook and clean instead of always spending all my free time on my growing business. (Now, ladies, don’t jump on him for this! 😉 He was right, but I couldn’t see that with the way that he was approaching it.)
Needless to say, this tactic of his didn’t work at all. I got defensive every time, cried, and eventually we would come to a truce without fixing the actual problem. But one day, Alex said something a little different. He said…
“I just really wish that you would spend more time taking care of the house without worrying about your business. I know that you work so hard on your business, and that’s great. But it really makes me feel loved to know that you’re putting our home and my desires over your business. And you’re so good at cooking when you aren’t sucked into your phone”
Whoa. Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to change ALL those things and give my husband what he was asking for.
This time, he spent more time explaining why it was important to him and giving encouragement than he did just criticizing me. Once I heard how much it meant to him and that it made him feel more loved, I was on a mission to make sure that I gave more of an effort in that area! It also, opened up the door for me to turn some of my own complaints into encouragement too.
See where I’m going with this?
When we spend time explaining our desires to our significant others and encouraging them, we will get a better response than if we had just been nagging! If this is something that you have been struggling with in your marriage, try taking the time to really think things out and deliver it in a way that encourages instead of hurts. Below, I’ve listed some things that we have done to help make our marriage a nicer place to be 😉
Write things down
If you find yourself complaining a lot (this was SO me!), try writing down the things that make you mad instead of talking to your spouse about them right away. 24 hours later, read over the list again and see how you feel about them. If you’re still upset or you feel like one of them really needs to be addressed, talk it over! I found that I usually wasn’t even mad about most of them by that time, and if I was, I had taken a bit more time to think over what I wanted to say. This kept me from just saying the first hurtful thing that came to mind.
Set up a weekly meeting
One of the things that Alex struggles with is speaking up when something is bothering him. We really are total opposites! LOL. One of the things that helped us with that was to set up a weekly meeting. This can be over dinner, on a date, or just sitting on the couch drinking coffee as long as both people are comfortable and open to talk. At our meetings, we would air out all the things that had stuck out as frustrations in our mind from the week before + some good things as well. This kept us from bringing up every little thing throughout the week which might have made us more tense and irritated. Bringing up positive things too made both of us feel really great leaving the talk as well!
Focus on Laughter
This has been huge for us! The moment that we decided to start having more fun together, creating inside jokes, and just bringing back our friendship, a lot of the complaining and hurtful arguments went away! This can be riding bikes, watching a tv show that you both like, reading a book together, or just making date night more of a priority. We have found that focusing on building more good times instead of focusing on how to make the bad times go away is the best bet for us! Try it, and see how it works for you!
Let’s chat! Comment below with some of your tips on how to keep the peace and complain less!