How Marriage Counseling Helps When Dealing with an Overly Critical Spouse

Do you feel your spouse is always criticizing you? Maybe you’ve even tried to address it, only to get the response, “I’m just being honest!”. Some amount of bickering and blaming each other is normal in a marriage. It doesn’t help being too sensitive, but one also needs to recognize when it’s time to do something about it.

Time to Act

Feedback, or constructive criticism, is great. It can help you improve. But, remember, that feedback is useful only when it’s presented holistically – addressing the positives and the areas of improvement, and in a caring way.

Criticism is unhealthy when it’s meant to hurt you. It focuses only on the negatives, with no intension of hearing you out. It focuses on you, rather than the situation. You feel judged and cornered. This is when it’s time to act.

Marriage Counseling as an Option

The issues you face in a marriage don’t resolve themselves; and it may be difficult to tackle each of life’s challenges alone, says leading New York-based psychotherapist Linda Charnes. She believes that professional help can make a significant difference in making relationships more satisfying.

Often, the spouse who is overly critical doesn’t understand the impact of his/her actions. Maybe your spouse doesn’t realize how the comments are affecting you and your self-esteem, and finally the marriage. Marriage counseling can help your spouse identify the hurtful actions, understand their impact and learn to control them.

Marriage counseling is not just about “fixing” your spouse. It will help you address hidden feelings of anger or resentment that you may have built up over time. You, too, need to understand your spouse and why he/she has become overly critical. You may also need some help with self-esteem, as constant criticism may have damaged that to some extent.

The good news is that marriage counseling has a huge success rate, according to a survey conducted by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and published in GuideDoc Health. More than 97% of those surveyed said they got the help they were looking for, while 93% believes that marriage counseling gave them more effective tools to deal with problems.

The 3 Key Ways in Which Marriage Counseling Helps

Finding the Trigger: The two people in a relationship need to be aware of what triggers a negative response. A marriage counselor can help your spouse identify these push buttons and effectively communicate them to you. You can also learn the signs and try to avoid pushing those buttons.

Understanding Anger: This emotion is typically a facade to mask fear, hurt and pain. After all, revealing your weakness is much more difficult than expressing rage. Marriage counseling can help partners learn to express themselves better.

Staying Away from the Blame Game: It’s so much easier to blame your spouse for things going wrong than to take responsibility for them. Such an emotion may begin gradually, but can soon become habit forming and, if left unaddressed, can turn into an addiction, according to an article published on Psychology Today. Counseling can help resist the temptation to blame others and, instead, focus on solutions.

Conflicts are normal and tend to arise from a clash of personalities. Understanding them and overcoming challenges are what make us grow as people.

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