When you complain it is because you want things to be better.
A worthy goal...
And you are pretty sure that if he stops doing that thing...the relationship would be better.
And if he could just know what that thing was...he could have the opportunity to stop doing it
And you could both get on with your happy ever after.
But there are two problems with that.
1. It doesn't work.
2. Complaining is a way of avoiding skills that you really, really need for a phenomenal relationship
The reason people complain is actually to avoid
Asking for what you need
Feeling disappointed or rejected
Shaking up the relationship
All of these feel vulnerable and risky
Your brain will tell you it is dangerous
It will tell you to take the more powerful route...point out what he is doing wrong...instead of the vulnerable route.
"I miss you in the evenings and feel so disappointed when I put dinner away without sharing it with you. It is important to me to spend that time together. Will you please come home by dinnertime?"
It will want to say
"You are always late. I have to put away a perfectly good dinner uneaten." and may even get compliance (probably not) but will sacrifice connection."
"I want to hear what you are saying. Will you please lower your voice and help me understand you?"
It will want to say
"You always yell when you are mad. I hate it."
But here are the skills you use when you choose to make requests instead of complain:
You learn to know what you want, believe you are worthy of having your own thoughts, feelings, and preferences, and ask for it. Just remember...you aren't entitled to it just because you ask.
You learn how to process feelings. You become good at risking the uncomfortable for the truly amazing
You learn to stop trying to control the other person. You learn how to set boundaries, change your thoughts or change your circumstances but whatever it is...you know that you are only trying to manage what is yours.
Here are some things to do instead of complaining
Make a request (Will you hug me?)
Propose a solution (instead of "I'm exhausted" try "I am going to take a nap")
Express what you want in a kind way (I would really like you to talk with me when you are upset)
Set a boundary (I'm available to talk when you are calm)
State facts (instead of, "They are such idiots" say "They said no.")
Focus on the positive (instead of, "I am so tired" try "Coming to this wedding was worth getting out of bed for)
Share your feelings (I'm feeling so disappointed right now. Or, this is challenging for me.)
Tell the truth (I will be ready to talk about this later, I need some time to process this, but I am actually really upset right now). For a video on how to have a hard conversation instead of distancing go HERE
If you have been in the habit of complaining in your relationship it can be hard to break.
But it doesn't have to be serious conversation and drudgery.
This month my husband and I have declared a challenge.
Each one of us has promised to go without some special treats until a set day
And we can only buy those treats with money we kept by not complaining.
We each have a bag with $10 in quarters and each time either of us complains, one quarter comes out of their jar.
It keeps us aware
It keeps us working
It keeps it fun instead of serious
It keeps us progressing toward something together
And it keeps us on a healthier protocol for eating while we are at it
I'm here to help you improve your relationships
And break cycles
Not just for you
But for your kids and their kids.
Reach out to find out how coaching can help you by clicking the button below and scheduling a Zoom call with me.
I've got you.