One Thing That Could Destroy A Happy Relationship

One Thing That Could Destroy A Happy Relationship

Criticism is the first of John Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling), which predict divorce with more than 90 percent accuracy. It might be the most predictive of disaster in romantic relationships since the other three follow from it.

Criticism can ruin happy relationships when it is:

  • About personality rather than behavior
  • Accusing
  • Not focused on improving the other person
  • Based on only one 'right way' to behave
  • Belittling.

Criticism usually starts out on a low key and increases over time. It forms a downward spiral with mounting resentment. The criticized partner feels controlled, which frustrates the critical one, who then steps up the criticism, making the other’s sense of being controlled even bigger, and so on.

Critical people can't think of the simplest thing: Criticism is the worst way to get positive behavior change. Any short-term gain you may get from it only builds resentment down the line.

Also, criticism fails because it represents two of the things that humans hate the most:

-It calls for submission, and people hate to submit.

-It devalues, and people hate to feel devalued.

While most of us hate to submit, we like to cooperate. Critical partners seem oblivious to a vital point about the human nature: Those who feel valued cooperate; the devalued resist. If you want someone to change their behavior, show value for them. If you want their resistance, keep on criticizing.

Critical partners are certainly smart enough to understand that criticism does not work. Therefore, why do they keep behaving like that in the face of escalating frustration? That's because criticism is an easy way to defend their ego. We do not criticize because we disagree with an attitude, but because we somehow feel devalued by a particular attitude. Critical partners tend to be easily insulted and especially in need of defending their egos.

Several critical people were frequently criticized in their early childhood by their families, teachers, or friends. Criticism can be especially painful for children. They can't distinguish criticism of their attitude from rejection, even if some adults try to help them make the distinction. Such distinctions require a higher prefrontal cortex operation, that's beyond most children. To a kid under 7, anything more than occasional criticism, even if it is soft-pedaled, means they are wrong and unworthy.

The only thing kids can do to survive criticism is attach emotionally to those who will take care of them. By early adolescence, young teenagers start to "identify with the aggressor" and emulate the more powerful criticizer. Later, self-criticism expands to criticism of other people. By young adulthood, it appears to be entirely the criticism of others. However, most critical people stay primarily self-critical. As hard as they are on others, most of them are at least equally hard on themselves.

To tell if you're critical, you need to listen to what your partner/close friends/family members are telling you. If they tell you that you are, it's probably true. It's really hard for you to understand you're critical, that's why you need to listen.

Remember that criticism is different from feedback. Critical individuals often delude themselves into believing that they simply give helpful feedback. Here's the difference:

  • Criticism focuses on what’s wrong.
  • Feedback focuses on how to improve.
  • Criticism implies the worst about the other’s character.
  • Feedback is about certain behaviors, not personality.
  • Criticism devalues.
  • Feedback encourages.
  • Criticism implies blame.
  • Feedback focuses on the future.
  • Criticism attempts to control.
  • Feedback respects autonomy.
  • Criticism is coercive.
  • Feedback is not at all coercive.

Also, you need to keep in mind that you should avoid trying to give feedback when you're angry, because, no matter how you put it, it will be heard as criticism. That’s because people will respond to your emotional tone, not your intention. Try to regulate the anger or resentment before you give any feedback.

Here are some good ways to give feedback:

  • Focus on how the other person could improve.
  • Focus on the behavior you'd like to see, not on the personality of your partner, family member, or friend.
  • Encourage change, rather than undermining confidence.
  • Sincerely offer your help.
  • Respect the other person's autonomy.
  • Don't be resentful if they don't do what you want.

Reference: Psychology Today

One Thing That Could Destroy A Happy Relationship One Thing That Could Destroy A Happy Relationship Reviewed by Katerina Papakyriakopoulou on 4:08 AM Rating: 5


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