Criticism over time in a relationship will wear it down and erode it’s self esteem.
This behaviour doesn’t make for a happy relationship. Criticism is when you globally wrong your partner. For example, “you always ignore me in the afternoons” or “you never care about me.” It’s an attack which says there is something globally wrong with your partner. This is not supportive in a relationship and if it occurs regularly over time it is corrosive.
Now there are times when feedback is necessary which is not criticizing but complaining. Complaining is feedback and is not corrosive. For example “I feel neglected when you ignored me this afternoon and think you don’t love me”. When complaining it’s what I think………… and what I feel ………………..
So, in summary it’s about taking ownership of what you feel and putting it into I statements, this is complaining and giving feedback which is healthy in a relationship. Criticizing is saying there is something globally wrong with your partner and this is unhealthy.
Defensiveness is the constant warding off a perceived attack and it may manifest in different ways like
- blaming the other person
- running from the problem
- diverting attention away
Have you noticed that when a disagreement occurs and you start explaining this actually makes a bigger hole and aggravates the situation even more? The answer is to listen from a place of curiosity and to understand that this is what they think and feel, it’s their perception. Taking ownership of your part, owning it, not running is the most supportive behaviour. A supportive action when an argument or disagreement is occurring is to say “STOP, angry, lonely, tired or hungry? It’s not the time, lets deal with it later.” This diffuses the moment and you can come back together in a calmer manner.
Contempt is a very unhealthy behaviour to have in a relationship.
- Putting yourself on a higher plain than your partner
- My beliefs are right and yours are wrong
- I’m better than you
- Constant belittling
Having the existence of this in your relationship causes distancing and it’s very hard to connect on an equal basis.
Stonewalling or for men has been known to be “escaping to his man cave”
- I’m not talking to you
- Silent treatment for hours or days
- A stiff neck, looking down so not to connect
This behaviour is extremely unhealthy and puts strain on any relationship. It’s like a 5 year old holding their breath. It’s an outdated strategy from childhood.
These 4 behaviours can be worked on. Sometimes its outdated strategies from childhood so it means moving thru that stage of development to a more supportive way of being. Also healing wounds from the past can be supportive especially if you had a critical parent or a defensiveness parent as you learnt this behaviour from them.
I find talking therapy is not enough to change these behaviours. Neuro Trance Psychotherapy is required to go back and heal the unmet needs. Works beautifully and the above behaviour can be a thing of the past.