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Criticism involves attacking your partner’s personality or character, not just his or her behavior.

There is usually an element of blame in the attack. Criticizing your partner leads to defensiveness and may encourage your partner to withdraw from you – after all, if your partner feels blamed because of a personality flaw, it would be difficult thing to repair. A complaint, on the other hand, especially if it is stated as an “I-statement,” is an expression of your feeling that allows your partner to correct the situation. Stating a complaint, though it may not be pleasant, can enhance the relationship because it gets problematic behavior out in the open where it can be talked about. Complaints often begin with the word, “I,” and criticisms might begin with the word, “you.”

Criticisms vs. Complaints: To repair this pattern, try stating your criticisms as complaints that your partner can respond to and not take as a personal attack. Make your complaints specific and talk about them as a behaviors that can be changed.  Take responsibility for your own part in the problem.

Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT

San Diego Couples and Family Therapy provides counseling in the convenient area of Sorrento Valley Road.

We also serve the surrounding areas of La Jolla, UTC San Diego,  Del Mar, University City, Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Poway and Escondido.