Do any of these statements describe your feelings?

___ You often feel that your partner criticizes you unfairly.

___ You feel that your partner consistently looks for nit-picking things to criticize.

____You feel that your partner routinely criticizes you for things that have been blown out of proportion or are beyond your control.

If you answer “yes” to at least one of these statements, you may be living with a partner who finds it easier to find fault than to praise. If you’re already doing your best to please your mate, this may feel like a “no-win” situation.

So what can you do? How can you live in harmony with an overly-critical partner who doesn’t think that he (or she) is being unfair?

The following ten tips can help you devise a strategy to cope with the excess negative energy directed at you by your mate:

1. Try to listen without getting defensive. Hear your partner out and let him (or her) say what’s on his mind. It will only make things worse to become defensive and cut your mate off prematurely. You want your partner to feel “heard.”

2. Even though you may be thinking “Here we go again—same old gripes,” keep an open mind to the possibility that there may be a different twist this time. For example, perhaps a certain gesture, tone of voice, or oversight you weren’t aware of at the time has intensified your partner’s critical reaction.

3. Recognize that your partner’s perceptions are different from yours. And you can’t argue with a partner’s perceptions or say that the partner is “wrong” to feel that way. Launching a direct attack to convince your mate that he (or she) is off-base will almost always fail.

4. Resist the urge to counter criticism with criticism in return. That will only add fuel to the fire and ensure that negative feelings will escalate.

5. Consider whether your partner is making any valid points that you need to look at. It’s all-too-easy to get upset and decide that the criticism is off-base and miss the part of the criticism that may be valid.

6. Work on not taking the criticism so personally. This can be difficult because it feels so personal—after all, it’s directed at you.

But it’s not always just about you. Your partner may really be feeling self-critical but instead take it out on you by throwing barbs of criticism in your direction.

7. Realize that just because your partner criticizes you doesn’t mean you have to let that determine your mood or spoil your day. Don’t give your personal power away so easily.

You get to decide what to focus on, and you are responsible for how you feel. Your mate can’t “make you feel bad” without your consent.

8. Schedule a time to talk with your partner about your reactions to the constant criticisms. Tell him (or her) that frequent criticism doesn’t make you want to try harder.

Instead, it produces feelings of discouragement and negativity. State that over time, it could also negatively affect your passion and sexual relationship.

9. Write your partner a letter outlining your concerns about the damage that constant criticism could do to your feelings of love and emotional intimacy. Use the “sandwich technique.” Start off the letter by expressing what you like and appreciate about your mate.

Then state your concerns about the long-term effects that frequent criticism could have on your feelings toward your partner and the relationship. Last, end by making more positive remarks and sharing how much you love your mate and value your relationship.

10. Ask your partner to go to couples counseling with you. Say that you need to take care of some emotional debris that is accumulating for you in the relationship.

State that you want to schedule the counseling sessions so that your relationship can be the best possible for each of you. Taking this course of action is following the sage advice by Henry Ford: “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” That’s a sure way to create a win-win situation for both you and your mate.

Author's Bio: 

Nancy J. Wasson, Ph.D., is a licensed professional counselor and co-creator of Overcome Control Conflict with Your Spouse or Partner, available at www.ControllingSpouse.com. She is also co-author of Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says “I don’t love you anymore!” which is available at www.KeepYourMarriage.com, as well as a free weekly marriage advice newsletter. Visit www.SeasonsOfLoveMovie.com to view a free inspirational relationship-building video. Dr. Wasson offers telephone coaching to individuals and couples who want to overcome relationship problems and create a rewarding, loving partnership. Nancy can be contacted at Nancy@KeepYourMarriage.com ">Nancy@KeepYourMarriage.com