Complaining in a Relationship: Why & How to Stop It

Complaining in a Relationship: How & Why to Stop It

Most of us find ourselves complaining in a relationship, much in the way we’d complain anywhere else in life.

All of us complain about something. “It’s too hot!” or “I’m cold.” Some of us complain to another. “Turn off the light.” “Why didn’t you remember to call?” These phrases are how most of us communicate our discomfort with our mate. We feel a discomfort and we speak about it right away.

We learn this habit when we are small. That’s how we were taught to understand ourselves. We learn what works and what doesn’t. Then we tell someone what isn’t working. If you think about it, you can hear this kind of talking in just about every situation you find yourself in; work, school, family, friends, and relationships.

But complaining in a relationship can be different.

How Complaining in a Relationship Can Lead to Misunderstanding

Complaining in a relationship can lead to misunderstanding.

It would be great if our partners could always respond favorably to us when we have a discomfort. I think we could all be happy if this were to occur, but that’s not what happens. Usually, when someone voices displeasure to their partner, the partner doesn’t hear their mate’s discomfort, they just hear that something is wrong, and that something might be them. And then both of you feel terrible.

Even if we are not mad at them, after we complain to them about what we don’t like, they think we ARE mad at them. And one complaint can lead to an argument and that can lead to hurt feelings and well you know what happens after that… a lot of suffering.

Why is Complaining in a Relationship So Common?

So why is this habit so common? I think it’s the way we are all wired. It’s automatic to recognize a discomfort. We speak up when we feel uncomfortable. It gets the point across, fast. Unfortunately it sounds like a complaint against the person we love.

Sometimes complaints can even feel like a blame and that really feels bad. These complaints might even lead our mate to think we are unhappy because we are often talking about what isn’t right.

Making Specific Requests Is More Productive Than Complaining in Relationships

Making specific requests works better than complaining in a relationship.

And even though we all do this, I believe there are easier ways to communicate that won’t cause the difficulty between you and your partner. And this is a skill everyone can learn. Think about this, the next time you feel uncomfortable, before you announce it, think of what would make you comfortable. For example, instead of just saying “I’m cold.” Follow that statement with a request, “Could you please turn down the air conditioner?”

That’s the safest way to talk to your mate about what isn’t working. Figure out what would work and then make a request. Your mate loves you and wants you to be happy. If he or she knows that would accomplish that I guarantee you they will do it for you.

Making this change could alter the entire landscape of your relationship.

It starts with recognizing how we speak about our discomfort. Stop for a second, figure out what you want, ask for it. Try it. It works.

Learn More About Dealing with Complaining in a Relationship

Read a Book About Healthy Communication in Relationships

'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Can’t make it on Monday? Learn more about relationships and what keeps them going strong, by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It just might help you lay a solid foundation for your relationship that carries you well into the future Give it a read.

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Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.

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