Nitpicking. Fault-finding. Hypercriticism. Regardless of which term you use, the effects are the same: constantly looking for, finding, and pointing out faults in your partner can easily lead to tension, resentment, and strife, and ultimately it can cause contention in an otherwise loving relationship.

If you’re the nitpicking partner, then it might be time to take a good hard look at the way you are delivering information to your partner. Your criticism could be constructive if it is delivered properly. Either way, there’s still plenty of hope for your relationship and you can build or rekindle a loving, supportive, and exceptional partnership starting right now.

4 Reminders for Cutting Back on Criticism

Here are a few tips that you can start implementing today to transform your reproachful vibes into a more harmonious atmosphere.

Reminder #1: Delivery is everything

Sometimes not being critical is hard. Especially when your partner is constantly doing things that upset you. But did you ever stop to consider where this unpleasant habit of criticizing is stemming from? After all, nobody wants to be known as an overly-critical person. So what’s making us get so critical about the people we love and their only-too-natural flaws or oversights?

We all make mistakes and we all have imperfections. It’s what makes us human, and honestly, it’s what makes us loveable as well. What’s more, we all have flaws.

Action plan: Work on your delivery and make sure it’s gentle and constructive.

Reminder #2: Choose your battles wisely

Of course, your partner has imperfections, too, and you know that. But knowing that doesn’t always help you instantly change your approach to the situation.

Let’s take a closer look at the situation. Let’s assume for a moment that you aren’t being overly critical, and your partner really is as bad as you make them out to be, and that’s why you call them out every time they upset you.

So, what should you do if your partner really is sloppy, always late and a procrastinator? Three little words that will transform your world: Pick your battles. If they’re constantly getting chastised for things they’re doing wrong, they never have time (or emotional bandwidth) to do things right! As their partner, if you really want to help them (and possibly even see a change for the better), learn to turn the other cheek once in a while.

Action plan: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Choose which things you are going to point out and which things you can let slide.

Side note: If you do find yourself getting annoyed about something small, take a deep breath, repeat to yourself that you aren’t going to sweat the petty stuff, and choose not to make a big deal about it. Yes, it can be easier said than done, but with practice, you can do it!

Reminder #3: Timing is everything

Ok, but what about those times that you simply have to call them out on something they’re doing wrong (or to put it in better terms, those times when you choose to point it out)? There’s also a right way and a wrong way to criticize. Often, it all boils down to timing.

If you talk to someone in the heat of the moment, when they – and you – are frustrated or frazzled, you won’t get positive results.

Here are some general rules for timing your criticism. Constructive criticism should be delivered when the recipient isn’t:

  • Tired
  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Overwhelmed

Action plan: Be cognizant when you want to bring up issues with your partner. When you do bring it up, do so gently and with kind words.

Reminder #4: Men are from Mars…

A relationship is made up of two distinct people. They’re different in mind, body, and soul, and the sooner you understand that, the better your relationship will be. Spouses or partners don’t have to be carbon copies of one another to be in a loving relationship. They do need to set ground rules to make sure they are both on the same page.

If your partner is constantly doing something that bothers you, it might be a simple matter of setting some ground rules. For example, it bothers you when your partner reads on their phone during dinner. You think that dinner should be a time to disconnect for a while – a good time to rest your weary eyes from that bright screen and focus on your dinner companion. To your partner, however, dinner is the perfect time catch up on Facebook after a long day at work. It’s not necessarily right or wrong, just a personality difference.

Through communication, the two of you can work on setting ground rules that you’re both comfortable with to avoid constant clashes in the relationship. In the above example, maybe you could agree that for the first fifteen minutes of dinner there are no phones. And then for the second half of the meal phones will be permitted.

Action plan: There is a solution for every disagreement if you are willing to work together to find it. Communicate preferences and set up ground rules to avoid conflicts.

Happy Relationships are Made One Day at a Time

Feel like you need a little more direction? Have more questions about your relationship that need answers? If you want to sit with an experienced therapist who can offer sound, practical, and effective tools on how to improve and get the most out of your relationship click here: Couples Counseling

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