If a child showed you their artwork, how harshly would you critique it?
That’s not what a whale looks like.
Spiders have eight legs, not five and a half.
That’s ugly and looks nothing like me.
You would probably encourage them. If you kept up the criticism, the child would eventually stop showing you their art, or stop drawing altogether.
Do you show the same encouragement to your partner?
No one can survive in a marriage (at least not happily) if they feel more judged than admired. Your partner won’t make use of your constructive criticism if there’s not a surrounding climate of admiration and respect,” Psychologist Harriet Lerner cautions.
In fact, we believe there is no such thing as constructive criticism in a relationship. All criticism is painful.
Continuing to meet your partner’s bids with criticism may cause them to stop sharing their life with you.
So couch the critic.
- Transforming Criticism into Wishes for Successful Conflict
- The Workplace: The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio
- What “Turning Against” Really Means
The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 5 September 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.