When my husband told me I criticized him, I was in shock. My thoughts were, “So, he has noticed,” and “But am I actually criticizing him?” Yes, he clearly noticed, and it clearly affected him. And, yes, I was criticizing him.
This was sometime after we got married. I remember feeling annoyed at everything my husband did. The way he sat in a chair, the way he left a mess. Every little thing ate at me, and it had grown into a ball of resentment that was thrown out of my mouth every time I spoke.
I just always had something to say about everything he did. Making a negative comment about something someone is doing is critiquing them. And, that’s what I was doing to my husband. I suppose the critiques kept coming because he never improved. Nor did he acknowledge them, (until the day he finally did).
I felt unheard. I felt frustrated. So, I kept firing—perhaps because I wanted him to know how displeased I was. But, the truth is, my words weren’t falling on deaf ears. They were sinking to my husband’s core and bringing him down. He did see how displeased I was. But, I didn’t know that. We didn’t talk about the feelings. We only acted on them.
So, why did I criticize my husband? I was unhappy. I was unhappy with the tension and lack of communication and affection. I wasn’t getting what I wanted, so I was mean and a nag. Because, of course, that would make him see my perspective.
I think criticizing your spouse—really criticizing everything they do—stems from unhappiness. It’s a cry for help. But help usually doesn’t come because you’re part of the problem.
The critiques you give your spouse really aren’t about them. It’s not about how they left the toilet seat up. It’s not about how they forgot the plans you told them about. It’s about you feeling unappreciated, unseen, unheard, unwanted—some feeling that you aren’t communicating.
The critiques are your way of saying something isn’t right, without having to say it. But you have to say it. As long as your criticizing your partner, your relationship will never improve and prosper.