It’s Not Me, It’s You: Why Criticism Poisons Happy Marriages

By June 21, 2017 February 23rd, 2018 Communication, Conflict

“People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.” – Gary Chapman

Criticism is an insidious behavior that comes into our marriage and eats at the core of our identity. Few things will shut down intimacy quite like being criticized or controlled, and it is capable of immobilizing your emotional health and personal growth, especially within your relationship.

Nobody enjoys being criticized or picked apart, but it’s especially painful when your spouse–your soul mate–is the one being critical and hurtful to you. It’s demoralizing to be treated this way when you’re doing your best to make a contribution and add value to your relationship…but you get criticized instead of appreciated. Criticism can easily break a servant heart, and that’s a terrible place to be in your marriage.

What makes a person critical?

We like to refer to critical people as “control freaks” or “high-maintenance people.” Control freaks are compelled to critique every little thing you do; it seems like they believe their spiritual gift is to point out what’s wrong with you at every turn.

Control freaks care more about some things than anybody else does, and they won’t stop pushing and nagging until they get their way. They are convinced that things like routine tasks should be done a certain way, and that their way is the only right way to accomplish those things. They have more energy for these matters than most people, and they’re going to make sure you know it.

It’s irritating for your spouse to be controlling in one area or another–after all, every one of us has some quirky part of our life that we feel compelled to control. But when this becomes troublesome and destructive is when the need for control becomes global, and the high-maintenance person believes they have a right to critique and control multiple areas–or even every area–of your life.

Controlling people actually have a high level of unconscious anxiety that influences everything they do. Because they feel anxious, they’re highly motivated to get control of their world. And because they probably haven’t identified their anxiety as coming from within themselves, they’re assigning it to the little things you don’t do “the right way,” then pointing those things out in hopes that you will “fix” the problems, thus alleviating their anxiety for them.

While your spouse may be telling you, “It’s not me, it’s you,” it is most certainly about them.

What can you do about all this criticism?

In a high-maintenance relationship like this, it’s hard to cope with your spouse’s complaints and critiques without harboring resentment toward him or her. After all, the person who is supposed to love and nurture you first and foremost is picking you apart and trying to “improve” you on a daily basis!

Most critics frame their critiques like this: “I love you so much that I want you to be aware of these few things about you that aren’t perfect.” But being approached in this way doesn’t feel loving at all; it just piles on one thing after another that you can’t do right in your spouse’s eyes, and it’s crippling to feel like you can’t make him or her happy.

First of all, it’s important to focus on the fact that your spouse is actually anxious inside. This helps him or her to look a little more vulnerable to you, and it helps you to cultivate a little more grace and empathy for your spouse. It’s helpful to realize that, on some level, your critical spouse is actually feeling distressed. While this doesn’t let him or her off the hook, it gives you a more detailed perspective on where they’re coming from.

Realizing your spouse is anxious also means you can begin talking with him or her about the problem. A single conversation won’t fix the issue, but over the course of many conversations, you can begin uncovering what they’re feeling so anxious about, and perhaps discover why they have a need to control you. Over time, these talks may help ease the tension in your relationship, and you may find that his or her compulsive criticism will ease, too.

How can you cope with your spouse’s critical behavior?

While you’re working through these issues together, it’s also important for you to have ways to cope with your spouse’s critical spirit. Here are some things you can put into practice now:

  • Learn how to deflect your spouse’s criticism. Humor is a great way to diffuse critical statements, and it can serve as a shield to protect you from your spouse’s negativity.
  • Remind yourself that this is your spouse’s problem–not yours. This is not about you.
  • Communicate to your spouse what their constant criticism is doing to you. Let him or her know, “I can handle a little criticism here and here, but this is pulling my spirit down.”
  • Create a phrase like, “You’ve officially entered the negative zone,” to give your spouse a heads-up that their critiques are becoming excessive.

It’s important for your spouse to know that his or her criticism is harming your spirit. In fact, constant criticism from your spouse can fundamentally change who you are as a person if you don’t both take steps to get into a healthier dynamic. So speak up and stand up for yourself. Showing your spouse this vulnerable part of yourself can help them see what their behavior is doing to your spirit.

When you communicate to your spouse that their behavior is hurting you, and they take steps to try to ease the burden they’re putting on you, you’re less likely to carry a heavy, internal sense of resentment. And when your spouse begins to see and understand what they have been doing to you–that their urge to control isn’t about you, but them–that’s when you’ll begin to see positive behavioral changes in your relationship.

Is your spouse critical? Are you? Have you resolved the issue, or are you still battling that need for control? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

170 Comments

  • Sandra Chisholm says:

    Reading this really hit home. My husband and I are on the verge of separation because he thinks I’m too critical. I have always stood my ground because I believe that I have reasons for my actions. When I’m the only one cleaning all weekend or when I’m doing about 80% of the work around the house including taking care and doing things for my children I don’t think it’s right especially considering we both work full time and I usually get home later than him during the week. I have a very hard time to not get on his case .. I am also suffering from pain in my feet and knees. He suffers from back pain but I don’t feel the work is being distributed fairly and that is my main concern.
    Am I being controlling?

    • Sarah says:

      I’m so sorry that you are suffering from emotional pain AND physical pain. How taxing that must be…my husband and I have been changing our focus to one another and lifting each other up, no matter what physical pain is occuring. I am slowly doing the same through every day’s ups and downs of emotional turmoil too (although he has mastered that more tham I have.) God bless you and your marriage that can make it through anything with faith and hard work.

      • Larechell says:

        Good day,

        I read your article and it was very helpful, thank you.

        I hope you don’t mind asking…
        My husband is extremely critical over my weight. The other night he was asking me why do I want to eat dinner and I said to him because I barely ate today and am I not allowed to eat? Should I do it behind his back? He said that I know he has a problem with my weight.
        I thought I was going to die…

        Just to give you some background I am not that fat. I am 70kg and should be between 60 and 65kg according to my doctor.

        He consistently asks me what does the scale say and how much do I weigh.
        I don’t even want to eat in front of him anymore….

        I am battling with the idea to divorce him or should I stay and let him carry on like this.

        I even told him I don’t want his children because he is so critical. He never has something good to say.

        Should I just stop eating and lose 10- 20kg of weight and be super skinny….Will he be better then?

        Hope to hear from you soon.

        Warm Regards,
        Larechell

        • KJ says:

          I have the same issue, although I am 70kg after having a baby a year ago. My partner is extremely critical of my weight. It really hurts sometimes but at the end of the day, I want to be a fit healthy person. I use his criticism of my weight to let him do the cooking and clean the house while I enjoy my time at the gym. Flip it on him and get healthy for yourself. You really do need to figure this out before having a baby together though. Anything hurtful said now, x10 how hurt you will feel after having his child, lack of sleep and emotions. Get out now or fix it.

        • Michael Paterson says:

          He may be a sociopath,
          Look it up he may have the traits

        • KKL says:

          Larechell,
          Any loving and healthy relationship has NO place for that kind of criticism, particularly when it comes to women and weight. Even if you do lose all the weight, you really have to (before losing the weight) take some time alone (maybe take a weekend alone and get away) and REALLY consider whether this is the type of man you want in your life at all. If he is this critical of your weight and questioning when you eat and what you eat (which in my opinion is awful and on the verge of emotional abuse,) what else will he continue to criticize after you do lose the weight? Your clothes? Your career? Your hair? Your friends? My honest straightforward advice – Lose the weight, during which time you should find a divorce attorney and get the process rolling. Then you’ll be thin, single, and better off emotionally – (not to mention that it would be the world’s best revenge.) We women need to love ourselves and we deserve that same level of love and respect back from the partner we choose. I mean – REALLY, really think about this…. Don’t let money, housing, kids, people’s opinions or anything else cloud your judgement here. It’s really that important!

      • Twinkle says:

        Wow, what a very male answer. Glad you are someone else’s husband!

    • Becky Peed says:

      I have felt the same as well. Honest talks with my spouse has helped him understand that I feel overwhelmed and I desire teamwork to make our dream work. He’s a good man, most are! He wants to make me happy but is oblivious at times to the needs of our home and the anxiety it causes me when I feel solely responsible for all the work. I heard good advice and it’s worked. I’ll say to my hubby, (for example) ” you know what I love? When we keep the garage clean and you help with weekend chores”. His response isn’t defensive with that, because he wants me to be happy. Try approaching him that way.

      Personally, I’m very critical it something I need Jesus to transform in me. I was raised in a critical home and it’s a default in me. But, I want my husband to be happy in our marriage so I’m taking this article to heart.

    • Lori says:

      Have you ever considered hiring a cleaning service? It may not be in your budget right now but perhaps if you talked about it with your husband, he might agree that it would be worth it to alleviate some of the stress on your marriage and you would also be tackling the problem as a team rather than attacking each other about the problem. Perhaps this is an area that you both struggle with (we all have our weaknesses) and you just need a little help. Keep pressing on, sister!

      • CG says:

        My spouse wants to control each and everything I do and is perennially criticizing me. He is short tempered and screams abuses at me for little things every day. You never know what can tick him off. He then slices and dices each word I say and try to pinpoint errors.. it’s very humiliating and I’m always defending myself.

        When I try talking to him about it, he shuts me off. He then gives me silent treatment till I’m fine and don’t want to talk about it anymore. Its very upsetting and I end up crying night over night about it but he doesn’t even care and says that crying is my habit. I feel really depressed and can’t discuss this issue with family or friends. I don’t know what do and feel lost.

        • Jeff says:

          CG please, please do not suffer in silence, talk to your family and friends or if not then a professional.. also look up the work of Brene Brown.. best wishes

        • Monica Peters says:

          I feel for you. I have the same thing happening to me. My fiance is very verbally abusive, criticizing everything I do. There is no use arguing because “he is always right” they think. I cry all the time wondering if things will ever change or get better.

          • Ec says:

            Please don’t marry him. It doesn’t get better and you will feel more stuck. If you don’t feel ready to break it off, perhaps try delay the wedding and try become more independent beforehand in hopes can break it off (or at least require joint counseling together and don’t marry until he improves and shows willingness to work on it a lot). With Covid-19 going on, hopefully that provides a good excuse to delay the wedding.

        • Jl5& says:

          My spouse is the same, it sounds like he is sucking the life out of you. How come ending the relationship isn’t a suitable option?

        • Candice says:

          Wow!!! You just described my life over the past 40 years. Never changes really depressing

        • PS says:

          Wow ! you just described what I am suffering from past 15 years

        • Hurt wife says:

          I understand. My husband talks about me everyday. Nothing I do is right. It’s to the point where I am walking on eggshells trying to make sure I do everything his way so I wont have to hear him talk bad about me. He even says I let our kids do whatever they want and we have good kids. He thinks I’m ditsy and that I am only smart at work. Today I asked him why did he marry such a stupid person. He says I think I’m perfect and I’m not and that I’m always blaming him. But the truth is he is always saying bad things about me or how I do things and when I speak up he calls me a victim.

      • Peter says:

        cleaning services will only lead to more problems. You see, most cleaning services rarely come close to meeting even the lowest expectations. The investment in time to find and screen vendors, and the subsequent let-do
        wn and disappointment can be ruinous. Trust me.

    • Ellie says:

      Buy their book and 9 more self help books on marriage from different authors (its cheaper than marriage counseling) and trust them and just do what they say without paying much attention on what your husband should be doing. By changing your behaivior you will instantly see positive changes in your husband’s behaivior. If he is still around living with you, you can over turn it into the happiest marriage in the history of love. Good Luck!

    • Rick Prettyman says:

      What is more important your relationship or standing your ground because you are right?

      • Sandra says:

        Well both Rick! I feel that we are both adults and both in the same position so we should both be contributing the same. But there are so many other underlying issues as well that I won’t get into.

        • Tina Opp says:

          Why is no one addressing the fact that the work load needs to be distributed evenly? I understand that her husband may be an ok guy who just doesn’t see the importance of this but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be informed and required to step up . Women have a lot on their plate these days and it can make or break a persons happiness. I know , I spiraled down into depression due to having too much on me. Then I ended up being no good to anyone.
          Requiring someone to do their share is not the same as being overly critical in my honest opinion. Expecting perfection is and expecting a person to agree to what you consider good enough rather than negotiating such things is too controlling but simply requiring equal or close to equal help is not. I realize there’s a lot of gray area where one spouse thinks more needs to be done than the other but that’s where open communication needs to come in . Also , there needs to be some slack for him on the days he’s having a lot of pain of course but the same needs to be given to her when she’s in pain. Just my thoughts. I still agree that Less criticism does help the spouse to listen to the other spouse more and helps the relationship ( that is if they are like most normal good people who wouldn’t take advantage of a persons kindness) but I really understand why Sandra feels the way she does. Been there , done that . Now I stay home and take care of the home front since I never did get the help I needed while I was trying to raise kids and hold down a job and now, he at times acts like I don’t do much 🤦‍♀️ because I don’t work outside the home . His lack of help is one reason I’m staying home now . That and I began to have a lot of pain after a car accident. I tell you what though , life finally feels balanced again . I do my share ( inside the home and with the kids) and he does his, outside the home . It’s old fashioned I know but works the best for us whether he thinks so or not . If we simply stop nagging while they don’t change , well , the resentment will still be there . They have to do their part or at least negotiate and compromise so both come to an agreement on what both feel is fair .

          • Jleigh says:

            So so true! Men need to contribute more in the home period!! Slot of problems in marriage would disappear if things were more evenly distributed! It’s about fairness…especially when both spouses WORK full time!!!!! It’s a no brainer.

          • TM says:

            I often feel that ladies overlook the things their husbands do that may not be considered work in the home, but don’t forget about all the things he does that women often consider “a man’s job” Like changing the oil on the cars, washing them, and other general upkeep. Fixing things around the house, yard work, plumbing, various electrical Issues, home maintenance, or anything else that pertains to the garage or requires a tool. I feel like women often simply consider that a man’s job and do not share in that responsibility evenly, but want equality when it comes to domestic chores…

          • Susan Christensen says:

            I agree for the most part but there are people who can always find more work to do (technically there is ALWAYS) something to do..to organize, to clean…etc Decide together what the priorities are within the time allotted. Sometimes you have to let some things go. Make room for fun activities together.

        • Kathy Biernat says:

          Amen to that!! Both are adults, and I feel that women should not have to bare the load alone! If both work outside jobs, then both need to contribute to the housework and children.

        • Gn says:

          TM. What makes you think that all men take care of anything involving a tool? I do all of that. And 90% of the work that does not involve a tool. If my husband cooks dinner, he makes sure that I know that he did “my job”. I just finished moving all of our furniture and removing and replacing everything from our walls for painters and carpeting. But my husband had to go to the grocery store because I hadn’t done “my job” which he mentioned 20 times in the past 2 days. I also work and have 5 children. Never assume about another’s life

    • I can relate to you and this hits home immensely.. we can be controlling freaks and through this article I can say this has spoken to my heart deeply because I find my self being the one that also cleans most of the time and feels almost my anxiousness is may be do to OCD or something but I’ve done that nagging part and expecting him to help and get anywhere. My husband once called my supermom and said u can do anything and literally meant undo everything and I’ll just have the title of husband and not help😢😪.. that blow my mind.. I too have been on the verge of wanting a divorce or leaving with my kids and not having to nag at someone that’s not even gonna put 10% to help in anyway.. I feel my situation might be on another level and I am seeking new for help from a counselor because I do feel I’m turning into this negative, nagging, high maintaince, person that criticize’s her husband for every little thing and I fell my marriage has been fully damaged to where there’s so much resentment and although we love each other we sometimes can’t stand being around each other because there’s so much going to tell them and putting down of one another… I would like to learn how to get my positive i enlightenment back to be a loving and forgiving person and. It hold resentment over little things.. like not getting the help to clean or keep things clean 😁!!!!

      • Jane says:

        This article truly does! Hit home … My spouse is extra critical. I feel like he needs to insert his two cents into virtually everything I say or do and challenge everything. And Not just in a controversial manner but angrily. I have never felt this inadequate and small. And I’m not an unintelligent person. I hold a high position at work and I’m a good mom. I’m attractive and slim. But I feel so insignificant. We are on a verge of separation because I can’t take it anymore. I keep telling him to say something nice but I guess he can’t help it…. It’s a second marriage for both of us. What do I do?

        • Jen says:

          Jane, I am in a similar situation. My bf has to tell me what I am doing wrong, how I should be doing something, how I should have responded to him etc. Then he goes on and on about it. He never says it calmly either. He honestly has to tell me I am not eating a sandwich correctly! It is just wearing me down and I too feel so low. I don’t think I can take much more of it. Neither of us should. My only advantage is that I am not married to him and I can go live with family. I am just about there. I hope you get through this.

        • Anna says:

          Jane this is exactly me. My husband left me six months ago as he was constantly frustrated with all the things wrong with me, the criticism included such diverse subjects as how I get into a swimming pool and how I cross the road. I’m not kidding. His unending critical and judgemental attitude eroded the closeness in our marriage. For my part I did not speak up and have a voice and equality in our marriage. It’s been devastating but honestly a relief not to come home and face it on a daily basis.

          • Rachael says:

            My partner complains about the most ridiculous things too like where i park or what bowl or knife i use. Its got to the point if im in the kitchen making something to eat and he comes in i will stop until he leaves again so he cant find something to pick on . I feel like i cant do anything right and he has no idea how ridiculous he is being

          • Linda says:

            Please, please accept the fact that he will not change and in time will become worse.

            I am married to a mirror image of your husband and have been for 20 years. People like this derive their happiness and energy from controlling others. The wife is an easy target because he feels he already had her and she is a constant fixture in the home. He is probably very charming to those around him. Many would never guess that he’s like this behind closed doors. 😔

            If you stay you can’t allow yourself to show him your vulnerability. It will deepen his need to push your buttons even more. Be strong, be fierce, know your truth and know your value 🥰

        • Ema says:

          I cant believe I am not the only woman going through this! I feel for you Jane and the other women here because I’m going through the same situation. I had to tell my partner that hers literally breaking me, my self confidence has plummeted since we met And at times I’ve never felt so small and useless. I know I’m an intelligent women, and very strong but I’ve never been with anyone like this and it’s changing me to someone bitter deep down and resentful.

          • sad guy says:

            its great to see other people going through this, this really hits home for me. My wife is the most wonderful intelligent loving person in the world, but she is VERY critical of me, and does nto believe at all in constructive criticism, she goes for snide condescending criticism of everything i do from the way i speak, the way i form sentences, to the way my brain problem solves, the way i word emails to strangers, the way i load the dish washer, laundry, i say the word fantastic too much, she says i look ‘old’ (im 31 (shes 29) and i exercise regularly and have washboard 8 pack abs not joking). I feel like an absolute worthless piece of shit who contributes NOTHING positive to the family. we have 3 wonderful boys all under 6 and i lover her and them SO MUCH but i am such a pathetic fundamentally flawed person that i know they would be better off with me gone. I have pretty bad self loathing issues, so the problem is, when she is overly critical, i actually already believe that i am wrong and evil for just existing, so her criticisms just confirm what i already know about myself, that i am the lowest form of scum there is and that i deserve to die. On the weekend she will shout out in front of all the kids “ahhh I CANT WAIT until monday when you’re (me) gone and things can get back to normal here”. I am there for literalyl everything when it comes to being a dad. she stays a home and i work, so obv a lot more falls on her with the kids, but i work my ass off non stop at home. i dont drink at all or watch tv/movies, or play video games, or go on the computer. I just do parenting/dad/house work and try to spend time with my wife if there is extra time, but i end up ruining her relaxing time with the stupid way i speak or with some chore i didnt do correctly earlier. I rocked out baby to sleep and tried to put him down and he woke up, so i rocked again and he woke up on the second put down attempt again, and my wife told me in the most hurtful tone, “it’s probably because he doesnt like you” i said, wow that was so hurtful how could you say that? and got just silence back from her. I spend every moment alone crying in the fetal position, in the bathroom at work, alone in the basement, early in the morn or late at night when everyone is sleeping. I cry on every commute, i have to run out of meetings at work to go cry. I do truly believe that things would run better without me there, its just the financial support that they need me for. I am highly successful and intelligent at work, i figured out a career where i am making 105k base salary plus bonus at 31 ys old with no travel and i only have to work 40 hrs so im never staying late and sticking her with all the work. everyone at work gives me overwhelmingly positive feedback about my intellect, personality, and appearance. My plan is to up my life insurance as much as possible, wait at least 2 yrs to avoid any suicide laws, then finally do one right thing in my life and kill myself so they can all finally be happy. I will make it look like a hiking or car accident to save them from the stigma of suicide.

          • Dr. Parrott says:

            This sounds so painful. You are dealing both with your own inner sense of shame that is incredibly discouraging as well as the perception that you are not valued and affirmed by those you love the most and seek to serve. The truth is that you have great worth and value and we strongly urge you to seek the support of a counselor, mentor or pastor who can offer you guidance. You have so much to offer and your family needs your strong and vital presence. Healing and help is very possible even though the pain may make it seems like that is not true. Do you have a counselor or pastor you can see right away? – Dr. Les Parrott

          • Kham says:

            Relieved to hear other women! Just today, my husband asked me to pick up Ahi Tuna. He pointed out it’s not dark red enough, blah blah blah. “Is the Tuna bad?” “No” and I calmly point out that there were only 3 packed the same day to chose from and it made me feel unappreciated. His answer, that’s what couple do. I’m becoming clearer on what I want. Definitely someone who is critical cause that’s what couples do.

        • Tina Opp says:

          I feel this way to even though my reply to Sandra above was saying that I didn’t think she was unfairly critical at all. I think in her case it was understandable since she was getting the brunt of the work load but I have a spouse who even when I’m doing everything I can to be fair and help him out , still seems to make sure I see every little mistake I make while never appreciating everything I’m trying to do. Everyone else in my life makes me feel good about myself . I’m sometimes surprised at the compliments because I didn’t think people saw me that way and I often feel like I’m barely keeping it together yet my husband makes me feel pretty crappy . I am often glad when he’s not home and I can have a day where I’m not being judged. Even though I know I shouldn’t let him get to me , it does. Sorry that you have been going through this to .

          • Tina Opp says:

            Replying to sad guy: I hope you are ok! Your wife ya not treating you right . I wonder if she knows that’s emotional / verbal abuse . I’d say go get counseling even if she doesn’t go with you . You sound like a great guy to me so please take care of yourself . Your kids and even if your wife doesn’t think so , so need you . There’s not enough guys out there like you . Stay strong , get an outside opinion from a trained professional. My wish for you is that things will get better . Hang in there .

        • Jacco says:

          Omg I can relate 200%!!! This will take down ANY marriage…the person being abused will not be able to handle it anymore and will HAVE to leave the relationship to salvage their spirit, self esteem and health….warning to ALL Men that do this to their wives —- VERY few will stay with you, you will be alone because NO ONE will our up with this!

        • Stephanie Bryant says:

          Same here except my husband changed due to an ALS diagnosis 2 yrs ago, he was never so angry and critical. I’d leave him if he wasn’t ill but that’s why he’s so angry and critical… I’m in a Catch 22 situation. I may as well have it too, it’s killing us both!

      • Rebecca May Jardine says:

        This is exactly how I feel. I think I need to go away for a week and leave the kids at home with my husband for him to realise the mental load involved. However, I would find leaving my toddlers for even a weekend too distressing. I know a lot of my need for things to be done a certain way or done at all, e.g. clean kitchen benches, dishes stacked so they can actually drain properly , is from my childhood issues but some of my husband’s behaviours are really irritating and strange to me so I express my fustration by sighing or telling him with my fustrated tone (which he refers to as ‘aggressive’). For example, he often leaves cupboard doors and drawers wide open and lids not put on things like jars properly sometimes causing me to spill its content when I pick it up. It really bugs me so I ‘nag’ him. He gets really upset when I ‘nag’ and calls me controlling. I don’t know… I think its more complicated than the depth of this article. I definately can be controlling about certain things and it does stem from my anxiety but there is another element at play here too. I’m trying to reduce consequences and the workload for both of us. E.g if my toddlers got into those cupboards and pulled stuff out then it all needs to be washed again etc… because our floors are often dirty as we also have pugs inside. I guess part of what I’m trying to say is my so called ‘aggressive” ‘nagging ‘ and ‘controlling’ behaviours can also come out of built up fustration and the mental load that doesn’t seem to be understood by my husband. What do I do about that??????????
        Wow that was a much larger rant than I anticipated.

    • Iwasawebber says:

      Maybe. Maybe by the way you deliver it. I read an article about a couple married 30 years who went to a counselor to end their marriage amicably. One felt the way you did, the other felt overly criticized. She told them for 2 weeks, they weren’t allowed to complain but they had to just compliment. She found that he does do things that she doesn’t notice and he found that when she asked him politely and gave him more compliments for the things he did do, he wanted to make her happier. He’d put away the dishes bc that was his job.. but when she said 𝚃𝚑𝚊nk you as I do when my husband makes the bed daily, they feel appreciated. We are sometimes looking at the things that aren’t being done vs the things that are and it comes off overly critical.

      This doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t valid but it could be that he feels unappreciated for what he does give and can’t take negativity. My husband did this. He complained about me all the time. I’m a business owner, self made from a terrible family but I got out. He would put my family down and compare me to them during fights. He criticized how I spoke to people, what shows I watched, even how I spoke to my girlfriends over the phone. He thought I took up too much of the conversation (even if he came in the middle of it). Here I am, making him meals while going to work, cooking, cleaning, sex, keeping up with my body and he would find something wrong. See, that’s mental abuse. It wasn’t long before I became withdrawn, unable to put a dress on I once loved bc I didn’t love myself anymore.
      My husband and I are separated. I tried my own advice.. I tried to compliment him and ask him to not put me down.. he only told me that it wasn’t fair that I was asking him to not be honest bc to him, it’s just honesty.

      Try that first and u will have your answers

      • Jacco says:

        Something is REALLY wrong with Men…something is going on with the male species, in other words, because I see WAY too many posts on here from women experiencing what’s basically the same as ABUSE??!!

        • Sebastien says:

          It’s not just men btw. My wife is driving me beyond insane, not a single thing I do is right, even if I was given vague example.

          So please get off your feminist high horse and realize the blams is on both genders!

    • E says:

      Could it be that you criticise what he does at home so for him it’s better doing nothing than being criticised all the time?

      • Denny says:

        My wife and I are divorcing now, she could not admit there was a problem with her criticism. I got to me so bad that I had anger issues would take great offense to being told everything is wrong. So then her family would tell her to leave me because of my anger. I went to anger management for help, but the criticism would not stop and when it had gotten to a point of overwhelming and constant fighting I gave into just stopping caring, I hate this and don’t want it to end but, she can’t admit there is a problem I have lost my happiness and resent her for not asking for help. I am not very proud of myself for giving up.

        • Sol says:

          I am with you brother.

          ANYONE can be pushed to the point of losing it, but as hard as it is to imagine why…they can actually do it on purpose. It takes the focus off of the real issue and now they can all say “look at the bad man.”
          Find another “non combative” partner. It’s a big world. SOMEONE will appreciate you.

          • Todd says:

            “non-combative” hits the nail on the head. A relationship should be more than saying white and waiting for the response of black because there simply cannot be any other response,

        • Kham says:

          Same problem, except I’m the wife. His criticism pushed me over the edge with my anger. I’m the crazy one with the sng3r and he’s just being honest. I recently cut out all drinking and try to not be reactivate to my anger. If he is still critical, at least I know it’s not my anger yo blame anymore and I will be clearer on what to do

    • My Vision is Clear says:

      I think that the notion that “we should both be equal” is nonsensical. What about you, other than general body structure and composition, is the same? Nothing. Men and women are very different creatures, and have very different roles to play in the relationship. It is only after a paradigm shift, or a change in perspective that we can truly start to find pride, happiness, and joy in the things that we do for our family. The greatest example of love is to toil for another while expecting nothing in return…

      • Raia Kousary says:

        Yes equality does mean being the same- he can do lift heavy furniture better, she can breast feed he can’t. But if she is working outside the home – the same or longer hours than her husband – and then having to do 80% of the work at home – can you please explain how that is remotely just? unity is founded on justice and its not just, its not loving, its not partnership – its servitude.

      • Todd says:

        Nothing in return would be an improvement. I would give my left nut for neutrality. Buts that is not what we are talking about here.

      • Jacco says:

        You are ABSOLUTELY correct…the biggest joy in life is to give without the expectation of receiving. HOWEVER, there has to be some reciprocal something….AND, nowadays…VERY few people are willing to just “Give” to another with no benefit to themselves. SO, as a Giver…you get used, and then abused…there’s just no way around it. Today’s humans are self centered as hell…thanks to the internet and selfie culture, we now have many many more narcissists that just know how to TAKE and do not know any remote part of the concept of truly, unselfishly GIVING. Therefore, one must protect him or herself before just outwardly Giving to ANYONE because SO many/TOO many people are like what’s being described in this forum!

      • Jacco2 says:

        You are ABSOLUTELY correct…the biggest joy in life is to give without the expectation of receiving. HOWEVER, there has to be some reciprocal something….AND, nowadays…VERY few people are willing to just “Give” to another with no benefit to themselves. SO, as a Giver…you get used, and then abused…there’s just no way around it. Today’s humans are self centered as hell…thanks to the internet and selfie culture, we now have many many more narcissists that just know how to TAKE and do not know any remote part of the concept of truly, unselfishly GIVING. Therefore, one must protect him or herself before just outwardly Giving to ANYONE because SO many/TOO many people are like what’s being described in this forum!

      • dev says:

        While men and women are different, they are still equal. Regardless, this article is about a spouse being overly critical. My husband and I are both men. We have been together over 30 years (and married for over 3). He is smart, funny, honest, and handsome (and if anyone wonders, we are masculine – not that it matters but somewhat related to my comments below). I am confident that he has been faithful in our relationship. We are both very well educated and are financially secure with great careers. Our values are very similar. Most of our friends and family think we lead a charmed life. However, some friends will tell me that they don’t know how I put up with it.

        He criticizes everything I do – I can’t correctly load the dishwasher, hand wash dishes, do laundry, make the bed, clean, cook, do yard work, drive, buy groceries, or write an email. We go out to dinner with friends and he corrects me when we get home about I should have said something differently. I can’t even take out the trash correctly. It is debilitating and demoralizing. He gets angry when I don’t do it his way, so he “pushes” me aside and does them and then complains that he has to do everything. I manage a global team and am accountable for 100s of millions of dollars in revenue/expenses. It is lost on him that I have been incredibly successful at work but lack the common sense to take out the trash correctly. If he asks for my advice, I cautiously share my thoughts. If he disagrees, I am stupid. If he agrees, that’s what he was planning to do anyway. He is a incredibly picky eater but asks me what I want (I will eat anything). He gets angry when I don’t suggest but when I do, he will say “well, I was thinking about…”. If I’m hot, it’s my fault. If I’m cold, it’s my fault. He is the only one who knows the perfect temperature for the house/car. I travel for work as much as possible just to not be at home. When at home, I try to avoid him and stay in my home office.

        We used to travel frequently (several trips a year to Europe and monthly weekend trips throughout the US) or if we are in town, to our weekend home (this is why our friends think we have a charmed life). I now look for reasons not to go anywhere with him. Our trips are miserable for me. He grossly over packs yet gets angry that his suitcase is heavy and mine is light because he has to carry all the “stuff”. He will not accept that we don’t need to carry the hair trimmers, special soaps and lotions, and his “special” tea pitcher (I am not exaggerating). He is not fashion focused at all but he takes double the clothes that are needed. They he starts shoving his stuff in my suitcase. He asks me what sights I want to see but there is never enough time for us to do what I want unless we have done everything he wants to do. He has to make all the travel arrangements since I don’t know how but he gets angry at me because he claims he has to plan everything.

        After 30 years, I am considering leaving. I can’t get through a day without him telling me what I did wrong. To be clear, I am not considering leaving him for someone else. I have no desire to ever be in another relationship. I just want to get in my car and drive away. My heart is broken and I spend my days trying not to break down.

        • Laura says:

          Dev, I hear what you are saying. Listening to criticisms all day long every day is too much to bear. I listen to it as well. I am constantly having my grammar corrected, told I’m driving wrong, should turn left here, don’t wait for the red light, that I don’t pay enough attention to my business, my pets, my house, that I don’t care about anything he thinks, that I don’t respect him, that I “never” do this or “always” do that. He is always right, always. It is soul destroying. Whether you are a man or woman, I don’t think it matters. I have been with mine for 18 years now and, unfortunately, knew what he was like right from the beginning. I just ignored those little red flags. Friends warned me. They could see what he was like. Even his family warned me. I have trigger temper now sometimes when he just randomly starts in on me when things are running smoothly. This week I am exhausted. I have a sinus infection and had foot surgery on Monday. I am really really worn down, but he decides to harp at me that he doesn’t like my business card design he had printed today. That it was dumb, blah blah blah and others know it too. I said, really? Is this really important right now? Can we let it go? I can change them 100 times. But no, he can’t let it go. He does not pick up on the cues to cool it and just can’t stop. He only stops when he wears me down so far I can’t cope and become emotional. Then he says oh we should stop this conversation now. Then of course he will begin the silent treatment for a few days. Please read about Gottmans Four Horsemen. He is so bang on about this. I only wish that I had answers for you. You have to decide for yourself when to leave. Maybe you do need to leave. If you are financially comfortable then you will likely be happier without him. It is much more difficult for me. We are not that well off, have two younger kids and have businesses intertwined. One thing we all need to do is to remember that it is NOT our fault, it is theirs. I am really tired of reading articles telling me how I should behave to make him stop being critical. I am really really tired of it. Pull yourself up, me too…, and set some boundaries and tell them to bugger off. Sorry. I feel that talking about it has gotten me nowhere. I think my husband is also a borderline narcissist.

    • Lg says:

      Do you do the work because he won’t or because no one does it right so everyone gave up and let’s you do it

    • John Cooper says:

      No, I don’t think you are controlling. Looking over your comments, it appears to me that your husband was likely raised in a family where he didn’t have to contribute to the daily household routine. Hopefully he does take care of the so-called “male things” (yard work, autos, spending time with kids, etc.). We live in a flipped household, where I do most of the housework, including outdoors. I learned from a failed first marriage to not criticize when I don’t get help. I do what I can, and when I can’t go anymore, I stop. If it doesn’t get done, so be it. Seems to work for me. Take time to take a good look at your husband and see if what you see is good, down to the heart. If what you see is good, let it be and work with him kindly to help him see you need help. If he doesn’t have a good heart, then do what you have to. Keep the faith, pray a lot, and enjoy the time you have with the person you love…

    • Aaa600 says:

      Today I realize I’ve done everything I can to try to m achieve my husbands high standards, and he is still annoying as hell. Rather than hear another preaching moment regarding the seriousness of an open cupboard, I decided to go out to lunch by myself and sit in the gym jacuzzi. One can only tolerate so much nagging without going insane. No matter where you are in your journey (married, single, divorced) take the time to be nice to yourself.

    • Walt C says:

      This type is anger is both emotionally and physically painful. I feel like sleeping all the time but I fight through the pain. I am watching over the years the physical deterioration caused by this controlling targeted anger. To reduce the pain of an attack, follow the suggestions given in the article. I do suggest exercising, it can help. One question, can the person launching the attacks ever change and how? If the attacker does not receive help/therapy can that person behavior improve?

    • sad guy says:

      Dr Parrot thank you for responding to me! for some reason there is no reply button net to your last post, hopefully you will see this. I do not have a counselor or anyone i can talk to. The problem is like half my brain wants to see me crash and fail so badly, i have like an inner bully voice that i use to just absolutely degrade and shame myself constantly all day long, just an ongoing monologue of how im worthless, pathetic, stupid, a loser, etc. I have a perfect life, job, family, am healthy, young, and attractive. I am actually fulfilled with my life i dont have any dreams that im being blocked from. all i ever wanted to do was have a nice family and be an awesome dad, i have it all and i still cant stop the self hatred mantra in my head. i feel like i am an evil psycho, im starting to really question whether i am human, or whether this is the real universe or not. i ran away fro school and planned to jump off a parking garage and kill myself because i was failing chemistry and ashamed to tell my parents. My biggest regret in life is not just doing that then and saving my wonderful family from the pain of being involved with a psycho who can’t figure out how to be happy in a life with them, they are all the most wonderful people. maybe i actually did jump that day and everything that has happened since then has been my own personal hell to build to the inevitable point where im facing the overwhelming shame of having these urges to abandon my perfect family and end my life, how can i possibly live another day with the guild of having these feelings!!! My family would be CRUSHED if they ever found out i secretly felt like this, i cant possibly let anyone know. i have literally no way to prove that i didnt die that day and im not living in hell right this second. im not even very religious but these are the things that go through my twisted mind, i thing i felt normal years ago but iv allowed myself to go so far down this hole that im past the point of being able to turn this around, the shame of allowing myself to be so weak mentally to let this happen, thats the version of me my family has seen, i can never be the person they can trust to be there for them if they ever find out im in absolute shambles as a person, i have literally no self esteem, literally 0, i have no idea who i am even, im a complete fraud that has let axiety fear and people pleasing run my whole life since puberty, i barely exist i feel like i dont have a ‘self’ at all. I feel tremendous pressure pressing down on my chest 24/7 and like a heavy blanket is on my back. Thats how i know im losing it, i physically feel these things that are not there. I feel a touch on the back of my neck not caused by anything and i get a shiver across my whole body like imagine the devil touching you on the back of the neck and evil washing oer your body. i fear im truly becomg a lunatic and i need to get myself away from this world. then on the other hand im perfectly sane and suvvessful and a great dad and husband and my kids and wife tell me they love me all the time and im successful and generally a winner in real life. none of them knows that all a complete fraud and just a series protections im trying to maintain to prevent peopel from finding out im a worthless piece of trash. so i know all this crap is stemming from inside my own head, which makes me feel even more guilty and ashamed and like im losing it even more!!

      • J says:

        I’m so sorry for what you have been going through. I felt the Lord impress me to tell you that He loves you and has a plan for your life. There is hope in Christ and in finding out who you are in Him. Find a Bible and read the book of John. Will this solve everything? Absolutely NOT, but it’s a beginning. Find a counselor, a pastor, or a trusted friend who can help you work through your thoughts and feelings. Keeping everything all bottled up inside is like letting an infection fester. The sooner it’s out in the open, the sooner you can begin to find some healing. I wish you well!

      • 3 of 4 says:

        Dear Sad Guy Says,
        Please get some help ASAP! You sound like a wonderful person who has had your self esteem crushed at an early age. (And yet you work non stop to provide for your family, and give them love and security.) Plus, your coworkers have many nice things to say about you. Thats awesome! Thats just one example of how nice you are to others. The world needs more people like you! Stay strong and please get someone to talk to. Your boys and wife would be crushed if you harmed yourself. Trust me, your boys will need a loving father like you when they get into their teen years and life gets harder for them too. Look up reviews on counselors or psychologists in your area so you can be sure to get a helpful, kind and understanding person to guide you out of your self hate and help you deal with your inner crisis. I feel that your wife needs counseling too. Her controlling and hurtful behavior are feeding into your thoughts and negative feelings about yourself. I think if she knew how damaging and hurtful the things she says are doing to you, she would hopefully seek help too. Take care of yourself. You sound like a good man.

      • Nick says:

        Hi there sad guy. You sound like a good and caring person. I just wanted to echo others advice to seek professional help immediately. That literally could be as easy as going to the Emergency Room right now and expressing your thoughts. I work for a hospital and our ER helps people like you daily. They are well connected and can get you on a fast track for help with a psychiatrist, marriage counselor, etc. A pastor can also help and they will answer your call at any time.

        One other idea. Many employers have an EAP (employee assistance program) that you can call at no cost to get help. It’s a great benefit and is completely confidential.

        You are more valuable than you realize, and not only in a monetary sense. From what you describe, you sound like a loving father who is trying to walk the straight and narrow path. Do you realize how many children desperately want that type of father?

        Please don’t give up on yourself. You may gravely underestimate how devastating your death would be to your children, wife, friends, parents, siblings, coworkers, etc.

        At least talk to someone about this and get help. It’s possible to turn this around, and you do not need to do this on your own.

        Life is precious. You are in my prayers tonight, and you are not alone.

        God be with you,

        Nick

      • Jacco3 says:

        You need to get therapy? Have you tried that? My husband won’t, but it’s a matter of life or death…ruining your family’s life, or not. It’s your choice!!

      • Laura says:

        Sad guy,
        You sound depressed to me and that CAN be treated. Please, please, please, for the sake of you and your children, get some help. It is nothing to be ashamed of honestly. I want to hear that you are feeling better. Please. Just make a phone call, or go talk to someone. There is absolutely nothing to be lost by doing this and everything to gain. You cannot imagine how much better things can seem with help. Yes, it is negative self talk, but it can also be a chemical imbalance so don’t try to be your own doctor. See someone and get help just like you would if you fell and broke your leg. You have everything to do it for and absolutely nothing to lose.

    • Sodza says:

      Unfortunately some spouses have mental health issues and communication with them is useless: they will not change. The best solution is to walk away.

    • Brian Johnston says:

      This behaviour destroyed my marriage. To the point my wife and I have separated. No matter what I did, I did it wrong. I am a heavily involved father, I’d give her breaks from the kids by taking them to sports or away in for a few days. I encouraged her to get involved in things outside of the home. Get away with friends or whatever she wanted to do.

      She worked part time for almost 10 years I worked hard to provide additional money. This made up the difference in money coming in. It kept us afloat during lean times, paid for cars, vacations or home renovations. I was routinely told that money isn’t anything.

      She went away for a week to the Caribbean with a friend when she came home she was furious I never did enough laundry and what I did wasn’t folded or put away properly.

      I spoke to her about how this was crushing and demoralizing me. She mockingly responded with poor you, your life if so horrible.

      Needless to say our marriage disintegrated

    • Missy says:

      If you think you are doing a lot now wait until you’re divorced. Don’t do it…take it from me…wait till the kids are grown and prepare in the meantime.

    • Bill says:

      Your article is very informative. In my case the problem is my wife is in denial that she behaves this way. Whenever I blow up or mention about her critical behavior her response is she’s just expressing an opinion, I’m overly sensitive or I’m reading more into it than what was intended. The fact is her father criticized her when she was growing up and was never satisfied with whatever she did. This behavior drove her crazy and ruined their relationship. This made her a perfectionist and anything I do is not up to her standards and she always finds fault.
      So to save my sanity I’m distancing myself emotionally and just ignoring her behavior. after all these years I’m not prepared to move out of our house and live in a 1 room apartment and carry the cost of a house as well.
      I wasn’t expecting my retirement years to be this negative.

    • Josh says:

      I’d say you have a few good arguments there.

      If you doing most of the house work and working out of the house the most as well, it seems there is a real imbalance between you.

      If you are the critical spouse, perhaps you could suggest a list of chores, and you could get to a 50/50 split.

      I do the most work outside of the house, bring home about twice the money and do a lot more housework than my spouse. And yet my spouse does about 100 % of the criticizing in our home. It’s getting harder and harder to take…

    • Cedrick Watson says:

      Have You Guys considered hiring a cleaning service to come a couple of times a month? That would help alleviate some of the heavier cleaning tasks like kitchen; bathrooms; floors, and dusting! It’s a least worth pricing to see if it works for Your Family 🤔

  • H says:

    It’s definitely important to be very conscious and careful of our words and messages to our spouse.
    I appreciate that you said — “When you communicate to your spouse that their behavior is hurting you, and they take steps to try to ease the burden they’re putting on you,…”
    When I communicate to my husband that his behavior is hurting me, he says that I’m criticizing him, no matter how nicely I share it. And, he does not take steps to ease the burden that his behavior is putting on me, so his behavior and lack of change continues to hurt me. I try new, softer, more gentle ways to let him know that I’m hurt, but all he hears is criticism and nothing changes.
    I choose to continually remind myself of his insecurities, so that I can have more patience with him. And, I’ve learned to keep things to myself a lot so that I don’t trigger him, but this only creates more distance between us.
    So, by him continually ignoring my hurt, it looks like he’s being the controlling one.
    So, how does a spouse allow themselves to be vulnerable and share hurts with the partner, even when the partner caused the hurt, and not be labeled critical and controlling?
    In my situation, the “I feel….. when you….” doesn’t work. It’s called criticism.

    • El says:

      Your questions are 100% valid and for which I have yet to find a Christian counselor provide an answer. For some reason counselors aren’t aware that the “I feel .. when you … ” approach does NOT work in everyone’s ears and is considered criticism by those who grew up in a performance driven home. Such an upbringing breeds people who to look for EVERY.SINGLE.WAY that something is not his/her fault, and to suspect EVERY.SINGLE.COMMENT is laden with a dig at how he/she failed . Most certainly the word failure” in these homes also has a very broad scope where even small, insignificant things like leaving a door open could be considered a failure. For example, if the so-called “criticizer” says, “I feel like we have more flies in the house lately so how about we try to keep the door closed to see if this cuts back on the number of bugs inside?” A performance driven individual may likely respond with …. “I didn’t leave the door open and stop making a rule for everything”. Hence there is no way to communicate or deal with these people other than to tolerate the flies in the house:) and be patient about everything. Over time, this simply does not build intimacy and leads to a shallow relationship, which actually, is sadly all that a performance based person knows. I would like if the article addressed how a “critical” person should handle anxiety when the root cause of the anxiety (and subsequent perceived criticism) is the inability of his/her spouse to communicate on an emotionally mature level.

    • EK says:

      H, I couldn’t have said it better. My husband is the same way. I feel like we just live as roommates w/ benefits (all for him btw because I certainly don’t initiate). He gets defensive over everything I say if it sounds remotely like he is in the wrong. He is highly critical and does not have self-reflection. I wish I could know what I am doing wrong. Basically when he says anything I use the “as you wish” type of reply and stop trying to state my case.

  • Keri says:

    “In fact, constant criticism from your spouse can fundamentally change who you are as a person if you don’t both take steps to get into a healthier dynamic”
    Wow, just wow.
    This is so true. I believe that after 13 years of marriage I have become an anxious, unstable mess because of increasing negativity and criticism in my home.
    My husband married me because I was a happy, secure person. I am not like that now and I feel that he is losing respect for me, and frankly doesn’t seem to love me like he used to.
    I am a stay at home mom, but try as I might, I feel defeated because the things I do, are not appreciated, but the things I don’t get to, are nit picked. I am afraid to go outside of my home to get affirmation that I do have talent and can do things well. Or to get noticed for something positive. I want my husband to meet that need, I don’t won’t to set myself up for wanting someone else’s attention. I know this is making me vulnerable to this. I feel like a disappointment.
    My husband used to call my chattering about my day, cute, and he would look at me with love. Now he just seems annoyed, and cuts me off.
    My kids are quite young but are already showing signs of being too hard on themselves at school, because of criticism.
    Criticism is poison to a marriage.
    Ladies, if I feel disrespected because of negative comments, imagine how a man would feel.
    Love each other, be understanding, talk about things and recognize each other instead of criticizing.
    This is my prayer for our marriage.

    • Stephanie says:

      Wow. Just wow! I had to scroll up to make sure I didn’t post this! I’m so sorry, I know exactly how you feel!!!

  • Tim says:

    This is a great article for me, because at the moment my relationship is at break point due to the problem highlighted in this article. I pray this solution work for me.
    I would like to say a big thank you to the author of this article.

  • Leann says:

    Criticism is so difficult! I’m the type of person that can take and take and take but only to a certain point. My ex-husband was a very critical of everything I did and very controlling. He insisted that I stay at home , but would always criticize everything I did from taking care of the kids tonight preparing the meals the way he thought I should. I took it for many years. Until finally after his first affair 17 years into our marriage, I began to fight hard to try to save my marriage. But he almost became more of a critic at that point. I don’t feel he was ever fully committed to trying to make our marriage work after that – Whether that was because he couldn’t forgive himself or he blamed me for him seeking outside of our marriage. I think at some point I started to fall into the same criticism pattern – because it just got too hard to hear how I could never meet his needs. And after his second affair 22 years of marriage and five sons I knew I had to let him go. It broke my heart, because I knew it broke in God’s even more. The first time I felt God say stay and fight to help him to be who God wanted him to be – after the second God definitely said it was time to go. He had a position of power at work but he often tried to use that same position at home. As much as I wanted to respect him and as much as he brought me in a closer relationship with God, I could no longer allow him to walk outside our marriage as it was affecting our children. Now 3 1/2 years later, we are all better off, stronger people, and I continue to move forward often reminding myself how criticism can be so very unhealthy in any relationship. I wish I would’ve known more about how to deflect his criticism, how to communicate with him in a way that was effective it would help him to see what it was that we both needed. I do take blame for my part. Thanks always for sharing your knowledge and wisdom!! May God bless you all as you continue!

  • Sasha says:

    Wow
    This article really hit home for me.
    I left a second marriage due to constant criticism.
    I eventually realized that he was the one with the problem….. the anxiety…… but by then I was a shell of myself. His constant disapproval was debilitating.
    Nothing was ever right……
    Life is just too short to tolerate such behavior from the one person that is suppose to love and support you.

  • Marilyn says:

    After 40 years married to a criticizer/controller I have come to understand very forcefully what our relationship to Christ would be if it depended on our performance (law instead of grace). No matter how much you do, no matter how hard you try, there will always, always, ALWAYS be something more you could have done and didn’t. We could never live up to His standard of absolute perfection. But He never asks anything of us that He has not already given the supreme example, and anything He asks of us, He is there not just to help us, but to do it Himself in us.

    • Nicholas Martin says:

      Correct. You can never win. I now clean the house like a crazy person, am on a ridiculous diet, have given up all other interests and activities to spend more time at home… doesn’t matter. There is always something more to criticize or find fault with or improve. It never ends. Until the underlying anxiety is treated, you are just spinning your wheels in a hopeless attempt to please them.

  • Glenda says:

    Constantly correcting others is about our own insecurities.
    It is fear based.
    Not faith based.
    When we get the plank out of our own eye we can then look at the speck in another’s
    And yes constant criticism changes a person. You completely lose yourself.
    Thankfully I have two amazing boys and wonderful friends who remembered who I am when I had forgotten
    Thank you so much for this article it definitely helps me to have more mercy and grace…understanding…for my husband
    The Lord is so faithful. I know I was carried through the last 5 years. And in the last year bit by bit…piece by piece…I have come out of the darkest pit I have ever experienced…I know each day brings me closer to healing and reconciliation with my husband

    • My Vision is Clear says:

      Glenda, what if the plank is already gone from my eye? What if my critique of the speck in yours truly is based on a loving desire to help?

      • Claire says:

        I’ve heard it preached the only time It’s beneficial to correct your spouse is to stop them from sinning. Otherwise you are simply exercizing your wants or preference over theirs. Lead by example, but that doesn’t mean belittle, correct or criticize and inflict a wounded spirit. That attitude isn’t loving… and is likely control rooted in pride. Nobody knows everything but the world is full of people who just think they do. I like how this article identified how it’s projecting anxiety. The book of James has great recommendations about controlling the tongue.

      • L J Mac says:

        All controlling people feel like that

      • Karen says:

        My Vision is Clear. You sound like the total critiquer. You call it a loving desire but you are addicted to correction. If they are not asking for help, don’t offer your help. Let them do it their way and clearly you are blind because you have a plank in your eye.

        If the person is not asking for help, don’t offer another way of doing it.
        IF you have a genuine desire to help, say, may I offer some advice. If they say no your critique is unwanted.

        Sorry to be harsh but I think that if the person does not want help your comments are not valid.

  • Maria says:

    Having been in a relationship in the past where I was criticized, it can be hard to deflect the criticism as a reflection on your spouses anxiety or underlying issue. I wish I would have known this info back then. I internalized a lot of the controlling criticism I got. This is excellent info to know. Thank you!

  • Corina says:

    I wouldn’t say it’s an issue of an anxious heart, but a sinful heart. Transforming the words that come out of our mouth starts with a change in the heart. What comes out of the mouth comes from the heart and defiles a man according to Matthew 15:18. Words are incredibly powerful. Words can build up, encourage, and motivate or they can also tear down, hurt, and cause horrible scars. “Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, that it may give grace to the listeners.” Ephesians 4:29
    I have been doing Christian counseling for over 15 years and I have encountered this issue over and over again as I counseled couples. The only hope is a transformed heart through Jesus!

    • Alta says:

      It is true that we must ask the Lord to transform our hearts through His Spirit, but also that we must know it can only happen through His unmerited Grace, not by our own willpower. Otherwise we will always be anxious for every mistake. That’s how the vicious circle continues…

  • Eliza says:

    This article gives Mr great insight on my spouse and his extreme criticism of me. We married less than two years ago. He is critical of what i say, do and my actions. He is critical of my family, friends and even the churchs I have visited while trying to find a good wholesome church. He is critical toward his sons as well. He is a great man and will do anything for me and I know he loves me much but he doesnt realize what he is doing to me internally. If I mention counseling, he says we dont need it. I cried going to work the other day because I feel so internally battered. His mother is somewhat a critic herself and I see that is where he may get it from.
    He gets upset with me when I say I am on the defense all the time. I need some advice but dont want to go get counseling because I dont want him to know what is going on within me. He would look at it as our marriage is falling apart and i may flee like i believe has been done to him in the past relationships. I am a very patient person so I just take what he dishes out and keep it inside.
    Can someone please share some insight with me and maybe give me some positive criticism if I am wrong in any way with what I have shared?

    • Liberty76 says:

      All I can say is you are not alone. I want more than anything for him to be happy and to let all that anger and hate go. He DESERVES to be happy and to know peace. He is a good, good man. And I know he loves me very much. I cannot make him do this but I can be here for him if he wants to make a change for himself. If he continues on this path he is on …one way or another….he will lose me. Either silently as I become increasingly resentful, withdrawn, and completely lose myself or if I reach my breaking point and leave.

    • My Vision is Clear says:

      Pour yourself into him. Make him the shining star of your life. His criticism seems based on a very basic and deep-seated need for more attention. You already said it: He’s a great man and would do anything for you, and you know he loves you much. So, what are you doing to repay him for all of these things? Are you asking him what he needs with a loving heart? Are you fulfilling all of his needs? Are you going over and above to show him that you appreciate him, his taking care of you, and the security that he provides your family? Most men crave attention and recognition. They need reassurance that they’re doing a good job for their family, and the only way they can get that is through feedback from you. Make everything about showing him gratitude for the things you mentioned, and watch your relationship turn around!

      • Karen says:

        Repay him? Asking him what he needs? Are you fulfilling the needs?
        Sounds like your solution is the spouse would be less critical if the needs are met.
        It’s hard to make the criticizer the “shining” star of the life, when all they do is give you 5 negative or unwanted comments for every 1 positive.

        What you don’t see is the person who is being criticized does not have the energy to appreciate the person because we are too busy resenting them for always pointing out faults and flaws.

        In my opinion the problem lies with the critic. They are addicted to being a critic and need HELP, not just the knowledge that they are doing a good job at life!

        I can tell by your responses you definitely are the critic!

    • Donna says:

      Sure, I’ll share some insight.

      1) If he is a great man, why can’t he control his urge to bully and browbeat his wife?

      2) If he is a great man, why does he have an urge to verbally batter his wife at all?

      3) If he is a great man, why does he bully and browbeat his own children?

      4) If he loves you at all, why is he speaking to you this way at all?

      Deep down, you KNOW what a POS he is, which is why you don’t even trust him enough let him know “what’s going on with you”. Instead, you choose to hide it for fear of what his reaction might be.

      GET OUT.

  • Michelle says:

    Great article ****delivered well to be received well ***

  • Tina Hunter says:

    Really??? Sorry, but saying to my critical spouse, “You’ve entered my negative zone” is just NOT going to cut it!! 🙁

    • Cindy says:

      I agree, nothing stops my boyfriend’s criticism especially when I’m driving & he gets in a critical, demanding & inpatient mood. It’s emotionally draining me. I even tell him to stop correcting me & that doesn’t help.

      • No name says:

        I bet that makes it worse! I rarely drive with my spouse in the car unless she wants me to be the DD. I hate it! it’s always something and always because she loves me so much and is worried about my safety. Give me a break!

    • Nora Hoffert says:

      I have read through all these posts and I appreciated the support. However, I agree that the above phrase will not work. The response will be “I am not negative, you just won’t listen to me”. He thinks he is right. How can I remember all the thousands of “better” ways to do things, that he has tried to teach me. I have three degrees and a good full-time job and I still can’t get it right. I do try.

      • Ann says:

        My secret is this. You cannot and will not ever be able to change a critical person. Not with kindness, even at doing your best to be everything he or she wants you to be. You can cook what he or she wants to eat and he or she will still find a problem with how you cooked it. You can wait on them hand and foot and you still will not please them. You can. Notnheal them. Only God can. You must decide if you can live with the constant verbal abuse or not. This person will criticize everything and be happy for nothing. This person is not happy with themslef. He or she is miserable and seem to only take pleasure in making those around them equally miserable. Misery loves company and torture. The torturers life becomes yours. You will never be good enough or measure up to their standards. There is no way so you can stop trying. They aren’t happy with themselves. You must find something for yourself to keep you sane and happy. Something inside to get you to learn to love and be at peace inside yourself. You need to realize another human being will never make you happy. Only Christ and within yourself can create true happiness. You feel alone and at a loss but you are not. Do you know how many other people are in abusive relationships? The true numbers would astound you. Narcissist are in large numbers. There are as many of selfish, evil, angry, antoganostic people as there are selfless, kind, caring, emapathic people. Empathic people are too often attracted to selfish, evil hearted people. I am not sure why. I think we feel a need to help others, but in our quest to help selfish people we stop helping ourselves. We get tired sometimes of other people criticizing us until we sometimes act out. How much constant critical dripping could we take before we break. These people don’t care how many times we beg them to stop. They gain power and happiness from leaving us broken and in fear. Their criticism and gas lighting further cause more fear and depression. We can either keep putting up with it or get out. Out self esteem needs to stop being based upon how another person views us. Especially when by tainting the truth they feel better and feel power from it.

        • Ms. Tisha says:

          Surprise! Many of these spouses (mostly husbands?) mentioned on this forum are people with NARCISSISTIC TRAITS and it sounds like some of them would be diagnosed with NPD (NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER) were they to be tested by a therapist.
          Ann hit the nail right on the head! She said, “You cannot and will not ever be able to change a critical person.” They will tear you down and ruin your life. They destroy your happiness, ego, sense of well being, etc. This is one of the most common traits used by narcissists! Ann is right – they do not change! They are a therapist’s NIGHTMARE! Soaking up attention, lacking in emotion, refusing to commit/agree to help and not fulfill the promise, extramarital affairs, etc. are all HALLMARKS of a narcissist. It is a useless battle! Get out as soon as you can! Google or read up on NPD on the INTERNET. Look at QUORA FORUMS.
          Ms. Tisha

      • Karen says:

        Nora! I know exactly what you mean. I’m facing the same thing!!

        I’m just telling the truth.
        I’m not being negative.
        I’m just being honest.
        I’m just sharing my preferences.

  • Lovely one says:

    I have checked out mentally im feed up with the constant criticism from my husband, i would rather let another woman deal it and live my life single happy n free with our 2 kiddos…im dissappointed…. 8 years of marriage n idk if i can stay til death because of it

  • Lisa Sutherland says:

    So if my fiance puts the diaper on our child so loose that it’s falling off and I say ‘the diaper needs to be tighter I am being a control freak? So I should just continue to scrape poop off outfits that are usually stained afterwords. So according to this article constructive criticism doesn’t exist. Interesting🤔

    • Robin says:

      I think you’re missing that this is about constant unnecessary criticism. There are also ways of wording criticism that can both make it more effective and less hurtful. Compare how you feel if someone says “you have done that diaper up wrong” to the effect of hearing “oh these diapers are annoying, I find I have to be really careful to get the tabs in the right position, why can’t they make them so they won’t leak?”. Even if someone is being careless about how they do the diapers up the latter not only is less directly critical so doesn’t hurt their feelings and make them feel negative about doing what you’d like it also makes the task a problem to be solved that they will work on. Timing is also important. If you’ve not seen each other for a few hours and the first thing your partner hears is usually criticism then they will simply be angry that you can’t be bothered to ask how they are etc. If you wait until you are doing the diaper and then discuss their bad design then the worse that happens is you’ve had to bite your tongue for a couple of hours. Before using a phrase that criticises your partner you at least owe it to your relationship to count to ten and think if there’s a better way to deal with it.

    • Anna says:

      ‘The diaper needs to be tighter’ is not criticism. It’s feedback or critique.

      Criticism is a global attack on a person taking one behaviour and applying it to their whole personality. Eg you’re so careless you never put the diaper on right. Criticisms start with YOU and have the words never, always, only or just.

    • Mike says:

      My wife is constantly coming up with “constructive criticism” like how to put on diapers and other kid related issues, which lane to drive in, how to load the dishwasher, etc. I promise that you don’t do things perfect so lay off your fiancé. There’s always multiple ways to do something. At least he is helping and changing diapers and being a dad. Poop will get on outfits regardless of how well the diaper is secured. It comes off easy with hot water and a scrub brush! That’s just part of doing an infants laundry. Kids are messy. If you can learn to let things like this go I promise you that you and your fiancé will have a better relationship!! The key is to recognize when you are having these thoughts and shoot those thoughts down before they take over your mind and your actions. Good luck!

  • DJR says:

    My husband can barely go an hour without criticizing me or telling me what I’m doing wrong. I do believe he desires to help but I’m depleted, hopeless and feel worthless.

    I “ran away” to get away from him and he has left me alone now for a few hours but I don’t know how I can go back. I just want to go home to the Lord and end this suffering.

    Please pray for my hope to be renewed and to get over these selfish feelings.

    • FALCON88 says:

      DJR, this feeling will likely pass. PLEASE HANG IN THERE. I felt this way coming to work today, like… why bother? BUT We can only find our true worth in the Father’s eyes and heart, and He unlike any husband or earthly Father is abundantly accepting and forgiving, and judges us on only our love to Him. I know this is hard, I am SO with you. Very tired of the constant painful criticism I face. The “I can take a little here and there” is so true, but it seems that there is something always, almost daily but certainly weekly. Don’t lose hope though, b/c there is one True God whose promises are 100% reliable and we have to keep that in perspective. Don’t give up, you are too important to Him. Hope your day is better. 🙂

    • Debbie says:

      I did exactly the same thing today. Stayed away about 2 hours and went back. He was all sorry and asking forgiveness. It’s always how he does.
      Everything will be ok until Ive had all i can take and have too walk away. But I have so much resentment and all the criticism is eating me alive. We are senior citizens and I feel like there is no way he’s going to do better at this point. We’ve been married 10 yrs.

    • Alta says:

      I don’t know who said it first: “A woman who expects her husband to fulfil the needs only God can, is setting herself up for heartbreak” I did that. Don’t. He’ll come tumbling off that pedestal sooner rather than later. I had to admit: after all, if he was so perfect, he wouldn’t have married me (45 years ago)! So, accept his faults and flaws just like you want him to accept yours. Then I had to start working on myself, to become the woman God intended me to be. Any critisism is only valid if it is God sensitising me to something He’s busy changing in my character. Nobody but He knows what’s really going on inside me. So now I feel free to be as forgiving to my husband as my Father is to me.

  • KMW says:

    I feel i am at a loss. It is constant with the constant criticism. We had a new bathroom installed few months back. The sink is a stone bowl and the bench real hard oiled wood so, just now, i was brushing my teeth and i got water on the sink bench.. i was grabbing a small hand towel to clean it up but he just entered the bathroom and saw it. He made a comment “what why did you get water all over the bench? I just cleaned it) oh we clean it every time.. we use it ) I told him ” look i am about to clean it up.” He was annoyed and made a comment he, wanted to get rid of the new bathroom sink bench. It is every day.. constant with these things. Even If i paint a wall ( I did it wrong, I was supposed to do the borders first), or get a new job (maybe it’s not close enough), park the car (not close enough to the curb), I don’t dust enough (i dust about once a week.) We been married now about 4 1/2 years and i am losing my confidence. Anything i do i feel he will have a negative comment so I don’t want him around when I do things. Other than that, he is amazing!

    What can i do???

    • Jen says:

      Holy cow! I know exactly what you mean when you said you don’t want him around when you do things! That is me too, because then I won’t be automatically corrected on something. It is exhausting!

  • Wendy says:

    A great tool to learn how to have an adult conversation about a sensitive subject. As a meticulous perfectionist, I find fault with myself and those in my sphere. It is my “living hell” that without a loving or supporting partner is not going to be a lasting relationship.

  • KN says:

    Thank you so much for this article. It helped me know that I need to approach my husband differently and that I need to tell him that he is hurting me.

  • Critical Strike says:

    Lol…Kari just criticized Shawn and now I’m criticizing her.

  • Sonya says:

    No matter what I do my husband has something negative to say to me. He doesn’t like my cooking- even saying he wouldn’t eat it if I cooked. If I clean it’s not good enough so he says he has to go over it. So, I just quit cleaning so now he says I’m lazy and don’t do anything. If we’re doing a DIY project he always says what I’ve done isn’t good enough- even if it looks just like what he has done. If he does something he always praises himself and says what how amazing what he did turned out. I refinished a high chair for my granddaughter and I was so proud of it and I asked him what he thought and he told me everything I should have done and could still do to fix it. I was telling him a story and he had to interrupt me to tell me how that reminded him of something bad that I had done- he can never just let me tell a story. I feel like the one person who should be my biggest supporter is my biggest critic. We’ve been married for 33 years and it has always been like this but for some reason it is finally starting to really get to me. I’ve tried talking to him but he just gets mad and says I’m being ridiculous and will not talk about it.

    • Bonnie says:

      Sonya, why even ask him what he thought of the high chair? Why not look at it and congratulate yourself on the wonderful job you did (as he does when he does something)?
      Please be kind to yourself and try to avoid giving him opportunities to undermine you. 33 years is a long time to be chipped away at. ❤️

    • Nicol Rasor says:

      He sounds like a classic narcissist.

  • Thobeka says:

    This is hard I must say, this is our second marriage but it like am being punished for the sins of the past spouse. We have one child and there is nothing I do for my child that doesn’t get compared to his other child from his previous marriage. Its like he has a red pen to mark off all my wrongs. Am really am tired and have spoken to him about this a million times but a week later its back to square one. Am ready to walk out and leave him child behind for him to do a perfect job because clearly I am failing dismally. I feel so small as a result I feel so much resentment towards him because I feel am not heard. I have tried to speak to someone out of the marriage that somehow made things worse for me. Now am really confused and want what is best for my child but I feel right now the best for me is to walk away and be a weekend parent. This is killing me inside big time that I feel so broken and so out of this marriage. Am tired to saying the same things over and over again. He is a manager at his work and I feel like a disobedient employee who keeps getting warnings.

  • Kraig says:

    I’m an alleged critical husband. From my memory and all I can recall I’m not. I’ve always treasured her and supported her through uncountable canon changes, family ups and downs, and everything life has thrown at us. But as she attacks me saying I always do this or that or put her down. I’m teality I’m brining up things that she did just the same as she is bringing up thigns I did. I take full responsibility for my mistakes and have paid for them and strived to make up for them over and over again for years. But nothing is ever good enough or just plain enough for her. She would make smoke and mirrors stories up as to why she didn’t want to be around me or have anything to do with me for years and I have her the space and left her be and tried to appease to the best of my ability. Recently she admitted that over the last year while we were supposedly trying to make things better between us she just couldn’t even bring herself to try. So when I bring up something she did actually do that upset me just as she does to me it’s a put down to her. But her doing the same to me is not a put down? Seriously. She is also a gaslighter. She can tell you a whal of a tale about something that happened. But if you were there you would know it’s quite twisted come what actually occurred. What makes it worse is when the same incident comes up anothe time she has an even more twisted story to tell than the first time. And she does admit her memory is very poor whole claiming to remember everything. I feel her childhood trauma has never truly been dealt with and this she feels the necessity to always be in the right. Because having her faults brought to light is perceived as a threat. So she will say anything to make you feel that you are indeed crazy and your recollection of events you experienced are not anything close to how you do remember them. I’m so lost and alone in my own house now. I pray to god to help us find each other again. But she just keeps saying she is done and hates me all the time. She has projected all her disappointment into me as the villain of her life. In my mind and what I’ve always tried to be was her hero and protector. And I swear to you I’ve always tried to take ownership of my own mistakes of which ther have been many. But she will look you in the eye and tell you how she is always right about everything and because I wouldn’t do things her way sometimes it ruined our life together. The hated and resentment is something that I just have a really hard time feeling from someone I actually still love. It breaks my heart every single day over and over again. There are more than one side to things. And while I’ve owned my mistakes she takes no ownership of anything she has done to hurt me and apologizes for nothing and she is beyond reproach.

  • Kat says:

    Wow Kraig! That’s all I could say after reading your story/life. I’m so sorry you have been going through so much, as so many others are too, including myself. She doesn’t even realize how lucky she is to have a man that can say “I’ve always TREASURED her, SUPPORTED her, tried to be her HERO and PROTECTOR and that you take OWNERSHIP for your mistakes! That kind of man is every womans dream! Yet, we all know no one is perfect and at least you are humble enough to admit that!
    I would ask her to give you examples of “how you always put her down” if you can’t find any truth to that. A Christian therapist once told me to say back to my husband (at the very time he’s saying something negative about me), “Is that a put-down?” I’ve done that with other people too and it makes them aware and accountable right in the moment…hopefully!! I once had a roommate that was so opposite of me and annoying and one day I said to my pastors wife that I felt I hated her. The pastors wife said, you just don’t wake up one day hating someone!” She said that I obviously was letting things continually build up without communication and now I hated her. That was something I never forgot. Communication! But, your wife is not even open to that. I’ve found that instead of standing up & yelling at each other, sitting down on the couch to try to resolve something as adults works better! Or even saying, lets pray now about all this. (Sounds easy, but not always & its the enemy who tries to divide). I think the saddest thing you said was that you feel lost and alone in your own home. It seems like she really is the perpetrator and so accusatory. Gaslighting is really bad too. “Trust your gut. This person has been trying to erode your self-trust, but you need to follow your instincts here”. Excerpted from Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People–and Break Free by Stephanie Moulton. Looking at her issues, “she attacks you verbally, nothing is ever good enough, says she’s done trying, blaming you and won’t take responsibility. She sounds very immature and angry. So much is her stuff really. She should find a good counselor and a good church that does inner healing. My life changed from giving myself 100% to God! Putting him first. Your situation sounds miserable and I sure understand because my husband is CONSTANTLY (which seems like a theme with everyone on here) verbally criticizing me. We have been separated for years now and we are both better off because we both have peace living alone. I am not saying that is the answer but with verbal or physical abuse it really is.
    I can’t take being around him for very long because he is ALWAYS right and I am not!
    He tries to control EVERYTHING I do. It’s been constant bickering since we were married and I can’t take it. I’ve tried everything. I tell him…”STOP!”, I’ve recently said calmly that he needs to google why he wants to control all the time. He is very negative and its toxic. We’re actually flying to his family in Denver for Christmas and not sitting together on the plane! We trigger each other but I just keep saying “STOP!” I call him Simon Cowell! He’s a professor and he’s sick of the kids too!
    I value my peace so much now!

  • Bettie says:

    An insightful article, and I appreciate hearing all the other women chime in. I also believe there are two people always with seemingly different perceptions. Each person will speak or hear with different lenses.

    As the accused critic, it seems my comments, e.g., that cardboard is recycleable; or I put a cloth under the sink so we can wipe the (his) hair up; or a true gripe (occasionally voiced) that I feel like I’m the only one cleaning (because I am-yes we both work full time etc etc. I feel like I’m the one “adulting.”), are perceived as a criticism. In my eyes, I care about the environment and want to ensure all recyclables make it in the bin, the sink is filthy with water drops and beard hair so hey, why not clean up after yourself? And finally, help a girl out and adult too.

    My biggest, can’t get over criticism is tobacco use. I hate it. I’ve always hated it. I feel if someone can’t be patient and kind or last through the day without a stimulant that is deadly (and disgusting), then you have an addiction no different from alcohol. And because that’s a historical problem for this person (now in recovery) I just think that addiction should be tackled. It is my deal-breaker. I know and have said I cannot let go of that. I’ve been up front and honest. I want to be patient and kind and gentle about it but it doesn’t get better and he doesn’t want to discuss it. If we just let it go, the problems go away on heir own, right?

    I read somewhere else about an addiction to criticizing. As an experiment, try to offer only compliments. For a week. If you can stop being “helpful” for a week you are more constructive. But if you cannot, you might be addicted to criticizing.

    I’m going to try. I know (believ) I can let all the other “helpful” suggestions go. But a dependence on a substance (and all the other negatives that go with it) is what will end it for me.

    It’s a bummer.

    We aren’t married. So there’s that.

  • Melissa says:

    Bettie. It is an addiction but if you care for this person, you should help him through recovery rather then just ending things. After your support could make his recovery where abandonment could break it.
    These articles really piss me off. Obviously I know that being tactful and trying to let my husband know respectfully that his verbal lashings are killing my soul. But no matter how many conversations we have – nothing changes. Why? Because the fact is, you can’t change people. Each of us is a certain way at our core. NO amount of talking will make any person change their behavior if they truly believe at thier core that they are right. They view your pain as your fault. My advice is, if you are in a situation that hurts enough for you to research…GET OUT.
    Get out before they kill you and you end up numb and miserable like me.

  • David MARTINS says:

    Isn’t this criticizing on its own?

    “When you communicate to your spouse that their behavior is hurting you, and they take steps to try to ease the burden they’re putting on you…. ..you’ll begin to see positive behavioral changes in your relationship.”

    I’m communicating things that I’m not OK with, and I am being accused of criticism. Where do you draw the line?
    Should you just accept things that you’re not OK with and pretend everything’s fine for not being the “critical one”?
    Doesn’t sound that good.

  • Esther Henderson says:

    I didn’t think it was written incorrectly. I read it as if it was listing things like, “here and here and here”. It’s all about perception! Great article; thank you!

    • garl fountain says:

      i love the honesty of expression
      all have given.
      this is not me speaking but
      how people percive to analyze
      the great word for the positive
      or negative.
      i read this phrase:
      you can be 100% right in what
      you say.
      but you can be 100% wrong
      in how you say it.

  • Dana says:

    Ok so I get that criticism is devasting to a relationship but tell me then what do you do when your spouse does not follow thru with stuff they are supposed to do? Their hygiene is horrible because they don’t bathe every day? I mean come on there comes a point that you are at the end of your rope!!!

    • QuarantineHubby says:

      This is the worst fear of everyone being criticized by their spouse (or at least mine) – that my wife is at the end of her rope. If you have a real problem with his life style that is a conversation. The constant criticism in the article (and the one I am dealing with) is not ‘Hey I would love to talk about your shower behavior…’ it is “why didn’t you shower” – 1 minute – “Ugh… I guess I will do that dish that has been there all day” – 1minute – ‘Why are you working late again’ – the next morning “grass is getting long…” – lunch – “i thought you knew I don’t like mustard… ugh its fine…”

  • Jimmy dean says:

    Since me and my wife weren’t able to have kids and have 3 failed IVF treatments (going on 4)because I’m not healthy Enough to reproduce. I get a lot of resentment. She will say things like without children she doesn’t have anything have anything” And “life isn’t fair,” And keeps repeating how she should of “been married sooner. ” I tell her it makes our marriage seem unimportant and that’s kind of Hurtful. Then denies saying anything that was hurtful. I feel in this case because she’s hurt she wants to effect me too. Which there is no point in asking her to stop again. What should I do?

  • You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the issue and found most individuals will go along with with your website.

  • Nicholas Martin says:

    This hit home for me. As my wife’s anxiety has gotten worse, her attempts to control our environment, my time, my appearance and even my diet have ramped up considerably. There is simply no pleasing her and every tiny error results in anger and criticism. I love my daughter but I’ve begun to dread going home.

  • Marco Royall says:

    I NEED HELP. I have been with my wife for over 4 years and I’ve done my share of mistakes. Even though I can say all day that I’ve never hit or mistreated my wife. I understand that is not the only way someone could hurt someone else, & that some times the little things are the ones that can hurt the most since those are the ones spoken the least until it’s too late and ALL come out at once!
    Over time there has been quite a lot of criticism or “corrections” from my part… mostly in the beginning of our relationship because I didn’t know any better… I thought I was doing something good by helping her improve on specific areas, & I promise that my intentions has never been to be a “control freak”, “high maintenance”, feeling superior, or even try to gain the control of the relationship and overpower my wife in any way! I would do it simply because that is how I’ve always learned, with friends, family, teachers, bosses at work, etc. Pointing out my flaws and teaching me NOT their way of doing things but the right way to take care of things. That’s how I’ve always known love or a sign of caring from others, that has been what’s helped me improve and grow!
    So when I would see something done in a wrong way I would make it know right away. Sadly my wife would never take any advice easy and I never understood why!!!
    until one day I realized that what I knew as “help” was hurting the love of my life….
    So I decided to back up a lot and not do it…
    Things started getting better right away! However there was times where I would find her doing something wrong. But not in a way of criticism, but in a way that if she kept doing that thing wrong, she would end up breaking whatever she was using, or even worse like hurting herself. So I would then Make it known. That was the time we’re i bumped in to this dilemma I NEED HELP WITH because i realized that she can’t take any advice of any kind and at that point I didn’t know what to do because I try keeping quiet, telling her, and even try not saying anything and just doing it myself! And she would still get mad or end up upset!
    If I would keep quiet and something would’ve gone wrong she would say “I can’t do anything! I’m never good enough”, if I would say something she would blow saying “you don’t have to tell me how to do anything I can do it myself!! Im not a fucking idiot! (In Spanish)”, & if I would decide to just do it myself she would also go at it getting furious and saying “you don’t have to do it! Don’t mess with my area! This is what i do and you are taking it away from me! Why!?!? Is it because I’m not good enough!? Am I that stupid!? What are we even doing together!?”.
    Then every time I would get so frustrated and would just explode in prices now making some serious damage and taking a simple argument in to a fight!
    So that leads to today. I go home during lunch to have some time with her. When we finish she goes to clean the dishes, then I noticed she would put dish soap on a knife 🔪 and then quickly run it through running water without completely washing off the soap! My concern was that some times when I’m eating or drinking water I can still taste the dish soap on the dishes I’m eating from. So I didn’t want to come as condescending by making again the mistake to bring up my concern… so dumb of me said “Are you going to leave it like that?” Then she went off telling me “not to tell her what or how to do things that she is not a fucking idiot” and then she asked me “that if she was so stupid, she should call her mom and tell her that everything she was thought by her was wrong because her mom was so stupid to teach her right”.
    At that point I had NO IDEA what to do!!!!
    I didn’t want to argue with her, not make the mistake of exploding my frustrations that I can’t say ANYTHING or do ANYTHING about because nothing seems to work and she takes mostly everything the wrong way. So I just explained that the knife might still have soap in it and told her that it’s been a lot of times when I’m eating and I can even taste the dish soap on the dishes. Instead of helping letting her know where I was coming from, it made it even worse! so then she kept going off then Raising my voice I told her “STOP! you are making this much bigger then what it needs to be! You don’t have to mention you mom she has nothing to do with this, nor call her stupid or call you a fucking idiot! Come on! Just stop”. By my surprise that just made it even worse! And I just decided to stay quiet at that point feeling my chest filled up with frustration 10 minutes went by so slow and she was still going off!
    Then, feeling hopeless because nothing seems to work I just decided to go back to work and let things cool off.
    Moments later she sends me this link trying to make me understand what I’m doing wrong and how much she is hurting by my actions. I actually appreciate the fact that she did that, because that way I can have a deeper understanding on what I’m doing so wrong that nothing and I mean NOTHING seems to work!!!! But after finish reading I learned nothing! Not because this is badly written or anything. I’m fact I can say that this is right on the dot with EVERYTHING! But the reason I didn’t learn anything is because I already knew that. I learned it a while back when I finally understood the effect of my actions! And I would see the aftermath of my mistakes…. my so called “help”, which I would do it a lot. So now I hope some one can help me improve on a new way to deal with this in a way that help us grow together because I don’t want to keep hurting her or making her feel the wrong way!

    • Lori says:

      I just like to vent out about my husbands doing. It happened twice that he came home late at first i asked why he came home late and not replying to my text messages. He answered busy at work but when we gonto sleep i asked him again why then he said we had some drinks with my boss so he lied .The secnd time it happened i asked him again he didnt bother to answer me instead he just gave me a smile. I got confused and irritated . So i didnt bother coz I know he will not tell the truth so i wasnt talking to him and gave him a cold feeling . Suddenly he got really mad then we argue .. SO HERE’s the thing Everytime we argued he finds something to criticize like literally all the things i do he makes issue. He criticize why i put the plants here why i can’t just put back where it was before , why the clothes are here it should be in the cabinet(to the fact that its his clothes from his luggage ) and i was expecting he will put it in his cabinet. Why i need to iron ( i iron 90% of his working clothes ) What did i do the whole day, (supposdly before he got married he cleaned his apartment everyweek, ) why cant i do that ( .I got pissed coz i tried to cleaned all the mess from him and kids but even him he can’t even pick up some trush on the floor but i never raise that issue until he criticized everything . He’s expecting that it’s so easy to work coz for him “i’m just at home and as a wife and a mother of two it’s my job.” Even going sleeping if i moved or even a small sound he woke up and he blames and telling me that he can’t sleep back because i make noise even when our son cries i can heard an irrtated reaction like ‘tsk’ or ‘ugh’ . He criticzed why I liked to used fb or instagram that i should have delete that . I am so tried of listening his controlling freak attitude . Yeah I stayed at home with 2kids but its never easy he only sees and criticize all ive been doing .

    • todd says:

      My free advice, treat it like carbon monoxide poisoning. Remove the source, allow her to recover, do not re-expose her to the poison in any dose she cannot absorb without cumulative damage. Like a WAY longer recovery than you might think. Then remember how you got where you are now before offering any future advice that is not wanted, no matter how reasonable or rational you might think it is, whatever reason you might come up with to justify it will not help your situation, if you really do want to help it. All good intentions aside, damage was done and cannot be ignored, there is a long recovery to get back to a neutral starting point with someone who’s resistance/defense is greatly diminished. You see the last incident or most recent string, she sees the entire cumulative effect of your time together, every incident on top of the other like bricks in a wall. You cannot assume you are dealing with a normal relationship scenario at this point, it has gone way past that. You need to wait for her to be comfortable you are not going there before you can expect to be heard at all. Wait for her to ask, or if she does damage something, after a period of recovery, you might ask, “How can I help without cutting into old wounds?” You have to admit that you know your unwelcome input has done and will do damage to your relationship.

  • Slaf says:

    There’s an old saying: if you are the only one that does anything right, pretty quick
    You will be the only one doing anything.

  • Kevin says:

    Reading this article came at a good time, as I have been feeling hopeless. My wife and I have been married for 20 years. With her there is huge anxiety, a critical spirit and a need to control me to make her feel better. The problem lies in the fact that her attacks and criticisms are so underlying and passive aggressive that it takes me time to both recognize and process through them. When her anxiety is highest the barbs are at their worst. When I try to talk with her about them she becomes the instant victim and I walk away thinking ‘why did I even bother’. She will throw me under the bus for any relationship she deems unstable – or a perceived person that does not like her.

    Sadly because she continually natters at me, my strategy has been to do whatever I can to just shut her up – very often caving on my principles or ideas.

    She has these verbal anxiety attacks where she gets overly dramatic and indirectly expects me to both ease her anxiety and also do something about the situation. Whenever I do, she often sabotages my actions – so I am never sure how to respond. Often I just listen silently and try to share a few choice words – but not too many because if she perceives that I am being critical will lash out.

    After 20 years I have grown bitter. I have tried many of the strategies in the article plus done scores of counselling. However, little has changed. I have contemplated suicide as a means to have peace in my life and I am saddened to share that. I live in fear and don’t know what to do. I still care about her and for the sake of our children don’t want to leave the marriage.

    Thank-you for this article and venue to write feedback.

  • Aookie says:

    Every single thing I do is wrong. Things can be great for a day, but if I post anything on social media, I’m immediately the worst person in the world. I get the your supposed to share everything with me first, tour a hypocrite, you ruined my life. All for what? We decided that 1 of us always has to end the argument. And 9o% of the time it’s me who tries to do this. But she will constantly continue. Tells me that we will not speak to each other, then it’s my fault when we don’t speak.

    • Mistereking says:

      Is there anyone here who has a story of there own or suggestion about how you can turn things around for the better with the critical person that you love? Or how that critical person was able to realize their faults and make changes to improve the relationship? It seems there’s many folks criticizing there partner for this imperfection, but not many who are proud of what they did or are doing to change it to save their relationship and support their spouse whom they love (regardless of their imperfection).
      I’m asking for the most positive of reasons so please don’t feel attacked. I genuinely would like to know how to fix it.
      P.S. I believe I may be the one who is too critical at times in my relationship. I do mean it to come from a place of trying to do what’s best for my relationship and my spouse, but I can completely understand the difficulties it can also cause for her. I don’t want to do that. I love her and I want her to always feel loved, appreciated, confident, proud and safe to be herself.
      Please help.

      • Bethany says:

        There is a huge difference between saying politely what bothers you about the neglect of household chores, etc. and being rude and hateful. For example, I made my husband dessert after cooking him dinner and he thought it should be cold instead of hot (it was right out of the oven) and said I always find a way to screw things up. The toxic venom he spews out of his mouth because he is overly critical but has zero manners has changed me from a very kind, caring person to a bitter, angry, passive aggressive, exhausted person. I also struggle with low self esteem so living with a critical person who has major anxiety disorder is literally killing me. The only reason I am still living is for my babies. So for anyone asking what is critical and what is just saying what’s on their mind, you have every right to lovingly tell your spouse the way you would like things done if possible, but you have no right to call them names like stupid, ugly and the list goes on for not doing it your way. If you are being polite and kind then it’s communication. I would give anything to be talked to like a human being and not a dog.

    • No name says:

      Yep, when things are good (for maybe a day) things are pretty good, but when I do something, say something, act in a certain way that she doesn’t approve…here ho hell come! Things with us are rarely resolved. We go to sleep and most of the time, get up and don’t discuss. Sometimes we do, but not often.

  • Sue says:

    This is my life. I don’t cry anymore. I live with it daily, it HAS changed me from sweet to bitchy around him only. At 65 It doesn’t make sense to divorce or split the property and assets, so here I sit forevermore til the end of either his time or mine. I dream of living with a kind and accepting partner, where good conversation replaces critical and negative comments. I have so much love to offer, but it is shutdown immediately at every turn. I understand his anxiety, etc but that doesn’t make it any easier. I try to maintain the positive, but it’s remarkable how strong the negative can be and how it prevails unless I leave the premises.

  • No name says:

    Wow, it saddens me, but also makes me feel better to see that I’m not the only one who is subjected to the constant nagging, bullying and criticism.
    It’s usually about the stupidest things. And it’s not just about me, I have to constantly hear how f-ed up everyone else is and why. There is ALWAYS the WHY, that goes on and on.
    The latest was over me sitting a plastic grocery bag by our backdoor. It had something in it to go to the garage. I was busy doing something else and just sat the bag down. Next thing I know, I’m getting jumped because I should have taken the item out of the bag! I asked her why did it matter?! I was going to take it out of the bag before it went in to the garage. That wasn’t good enough. I should have done it while I still had it in my hand. I occasionally ask when this sort of thing come up, is it really worth us getting into a big thing over, arguing, cussing, yelling, ruining our day over THIS?! Whatever the current THIS is? There is always an earth shattering reason.
    I don’t really know who I am or what I want anymore. I spend soooo much time and energy trying to stay a step ahead. If I were to tell her this, I would be accused of being a drama queen and not believed or I’m sure I would be blamed.
    We have been together 12 years, and married for 3 of those. It has always been this way which makes me so angry at myself! Sometimes it is worse than others, but almost EVERY DAY I hear something about something.
    I need to get out, but feel so stuck.

    • Bethany says:

      You said it. So much time trying to stay ahead of it. For my situation, it’s a bipolar disorder. At least that is the current diagnosis. So as soon as the mood shifts to Mr. Hyde, I am constantly asking myself if what I am doing will set him off. Like sometimes I am blown away at the new thing that he is yelling at me over. After 8 years, I didn’t know a piece of rice in the drain plug would make him insane or I would never have left it. I didn’t even notice it. I did all the other things to keep him happy and it’s a long list so I was exhausted and thought I covered it all. And the new annoying thing I do is the way I act scared and timid of him and it just makes him angrier. He is ready to leave me over it! Seriously! And I would love to let it happen because then I would have peace but this is a co-dependency, and then there is Dr Jekyll who surfaces now and then who I am in love with. I read an amazing article I am going to find again and share about a husband who enjoyed criticizing because it made him feel smarter and confident and then realized the damage he was doing and changed. By then it was too late. The abuse changed his wife into an angry monster. I don’t want to be a monster. But all of the rage I have taken is coming out of me at times. It is breaking me in half. Not just my heart, but my brain.

  • Phil says:

    I can totally relate to this article. Its nice to know there’s other people experiencing these issues.

    I’ve recently started marriage counselling with my wife. We do love each other, but were both extremely unhappy. We lived with parents for the best part of 2 years as our house was being refurbished. Not having our own space and the stress of the house (there were a lot of issues) put a huge strain on the relationship.

    A few months ago we moved into our new home, which was built exactly to our needs. Unfortunately, our problems have got worse since moving into in our dream home.

    I just feel sad all the time as my wife doesn’t respect me. She constantly criticises me (multiple times per day – could be about anything), talks down to me and has zero respect. When we argue she assassinates my character (through what’s said and via text). Just being myself annoys her.

    I have a lot of great relationships in my life – good friends and loving family. However, the one person who should have my back (my wife), doesn’t see the best in me. She sees the negative in everything – whether that’s me, stuff around the house, everyone and everything….

    She’s being suffering with anxiety and unhappiness for a long time now and I don’t know what to do…She blames me for the anxiety and part of me thinks it could be true. I feel scared, upset and worthless…

  • Todd D Blackman says:

    I can relate to this article and it is somewhat comforting to know that I am not alone in my problem but I do feel sad that so many are suffering through this. I know what it is like, and it is not good. I’ve always felt your spouse should be the wind in your sails, the foundation you build your family on, but I’ve discovered the knife cutting away at those sails, the foundation cracking, my desire and ability to move forward weakens with each cut, each crack. Demoralized is the word that resonates most followed by resentment. To our friends and family she boasts that her husband can do anything of a handy nature (to which in my mind I add the word ‘wrong’.) I attribute my skills to growing up in a small town in a modest home of tradesmen and crafty women. I never saw a mechanic, appliance repairman, plumber or electrician in our home growing up, not once ever! We did for ourselves, if we needed something we made it, if it was broken we fixed it. With my wife, I don’t know if it was always this way or if it got worse over time, I think its like carbon monoxide poisoning, with constant exposure it builds up in you over time weakening your defenses until you are sick and then its not clear what made you sick until you die or get away long enough to get better. In this case its not so much your physical body that dies, its your spirit and your intimacy. Resentment builds and creates distance, and guess what? That’s your fault too, yes dear traveler, you are doing it wrong again… and the glass half empty does not quench your thirst for peace and harmony. She does not change and I complain that the only problems we can have in OUR marriage are my fault and my problem because she owns nothing, no responsibility whatsoever. When I get to the tipping point and react by retreating emotionally, she simply waits me out and in time we reset to the status quo. The only thing it seems I can do is to make a strong point before I start ANY project is that I intend to do it wrong and will not be dissuaded from that wrong path or method. I’ts my rebellion, sometimes it works, it’s how I try to make my point to a person without a mirror or even the concept of one, but I am at a wall. Everyone has their limits of endurance, the cost benefit analysis is in, if you will, and the costs are high. Either way, riding it out or walking away, and I strongly feel those are the only two options with a personality such as this, there is a heavy toll to pay. The comments from the constantly critical weighing on this thread should bear witness to that. They read through this and are 100% certain we are doing it wrong and they are just trying to help us with a steady stream of critical comments because they care about us. I’ll pass thanks. My wife was away for a week visiting family, leaving me in the process of a considerable remodel project. The first few days I did nothing, then I dug in and got a lot accomplished, more than we planned and like an idiot I was thinking won’t she be surprised, won’t she be pleased!? All these years off complaining about the 1970’s popcorn ceilings and with an empty house I dug in and scraped them off. It was a huge task and I was feeling pretty good about it, never having to hear about her displeasure over it again,,, and then I thought to myself what a fool I am, I know my wife, , , I did it wrong! And I missed her but then began dreading her return because this drill was inevitable and unavoidable, and God love her, she did not let me down. And I felt like an idiot for going that extra mile just to earn more critique. It is the polar opposite of motivation. And now the cycle of retreat and resentment begins as she waits me out. A normal couple would embrace and possibly even be intimate after a week separation,,, we have not even touched causally in passing down a narrow hallway. She knows I am unhappy and she knows I love her hopelessly and I will get over it in time. I know I’m depressed and I know it will not get better. Help? My low opinion of marriage counsels is only reinforced as they fail to see whats happening, and suggest I compromise and move that sprinkler over 8 inches to satisfy my wife. Why should I, a simple high school graduate, know more than a string of professionals? This person will never be satisfied with me because its not about me, and if its not me it will be someone else.. What I know about this personality is that you cannot make them happy but you can contribute to their discontent. I have a child I love, I try to be normal for him, I am playing a role, for how long I don’t know.

  • Jenny says:

    PLEASE use black font so those many of us who are visually impaired (or just getting older) can read your very interesting articles more easily. Thank you.

  • Faithful Christian says:

    I can relate to “sad guy” but dont agree on his solution. My answer is to think of your marriage as a “mission” for the sake of your kids. You can only change yourself. So find a personal way to relieve your stress after you get a healthy dosage of negative criticism. My way that works for me is the pareve response. Acknowledge, say sorry, say later, and leave the house or go to a different room and pray to God. He is in control and He allowed you and your control-freak wife to be together for a reason that is beyond your comprehension. Talk to Him and make Him the only only only one source of peace and joy in your life. Try it this is true. You are under evil attack. Overcome that evil with good. Pass the time and be patient. Your kids will grow and your wife will change and all will appreciate you.

    • Broken & Hopeless says:

      I wish I could believe this would help me. The truth is, sometimes I do, and it does. But long term, it always cycles back to this place. I’m tired. Soul tired.

      • Stit says:

        Dear Broken and Hopeless. I feel the same way. Living with a controlling and critical person is draining on the soul and the mind.

  • pianoman says:

    I can definitely relate to this. I’m on the receiving end of the criticism and nagging. Honestly, those don’t bother me – because I have learned pretty well to stay ahead of it. What’s hard for me is the belittling – the very hurtful words. For example, we were looking around this house this morning for something that my wife needed. After she had left, I found it in a place I had left it a few weeks earlier and totally forgotten. I texted her and told her, and she responded “Oh, so you didn’t unpack it. Right. Not surprising.” – this is my problem, her criticism turns to personal character attacks. She calls me names. We were driving in the city the other day, and traffic was bad. We were merging into the highway on-ramp. She said “stay to the right, the entrance is in the right lane.” – then we both realized it wasn’t, so I started squeezing into the left lane. As I was doing so, a person behind me took advantage of the gap I had left to my right, and squeezed past me because they were actually going into the right lane. No bother. They fit, all was well. They were not my concern. But she leaned over and slammed on the horn after they had passed. I was shocked and I asked why did you do that? She said, “Because you were too scared too.. you’re too much like a girl sometimes. Scared to honk your horn.” and I just looked at her… I don’t believe the horn is an equivalent to the middle finger. I believe a horn is designed to signal someone or alert someone in a situation where there is potential danger to them or yourself. She thinks the horn is an emotional outlet tool. And rather than it being about me being cool headed, it was about me being ‘afraid’. The list goes on and on, but most commonly the criticisms are things like “A real man would…” or, “Just grow a pair..” – I’m not sure, but I feel like this behaviour crosses a line into emotional abuse territory.

    I work fulltime, she works 2 evenings a week, and sometimes a few hours on Saturdays. She tells me I do nothing around the house. She does do most of the errands/shopping, while I’m working. Stuff in the home, I mostly take care of the dishes in the morning and evening. We put the kids to bed together, or on the 2 evenings she works, I put them to bed alone. I’m the one whoe feeds the dogs 80% of the time. We tidy the house pretty evenly, and we have cleaners for the overall cleaning. I have 8 fewer hours a day than she does. But she still says “I do everything”. Even though it’s not true. So she uses that as her excuse to criticize, nitpick and belittle. I stare at her in disbelief when she says “I do everything”.. and whenever I do something in front of her (like the dishes…. *every day*) she says, “You’re just doing that because I’m mad to make me happy”. In other words, asking me to do XYZ more often, and when I do XYZ more often she punishes the very behaviour she’s asking for. Help! what do I do.

  • Carol Duncan says:

    Great article. I am 75 and had a 20 year marriage to a man who criticized every aspect of my life with the tag of always wanting to be helpful. I tried talking, counseling, and religion. I tried talking; crying, anger and an affair. Then one day I had enough. I had nothing left. No anger, no love, I was hollow. He was upset for a week and in six weeks in love wanting a Mexican divorce which I said he could have after counseling . Obviously he postponed until our divorce was final in NC. I continued counseling and treatment of depression. I had tremendous guilt over leaving and affair. I thought I might be unlovable. Time heals. My children thrived being removed from their toxic home. My old friend who had a similar first marriage and I began a relationship that began with baby steps. Two years later we began joint counseling before considering marriage and continued marriage counseling every 2 months for the next 25 years. We have been married for 34 years and are more in love than ever. Yet sometimes I awake from a dream where I am still living with my other husband. And it is a nightmare. I see this man from time to time at family events and as we have always been cordial we talk of mutual friends. He tries to draw me in to criticize the children but I joke it off except when he tells our daughter-in-law her eggs are getting old and she needs to get on to having a baby not knowing how hard she is trying to become pregnant. I walk away and go home. But I remember when I too was trying to get pregnant and when someone asked of our baby plans, he said to a crowded room that we were having trouble as my acid vagina was killing his sperm. It was not even true. Years ago we forgave each other and he finally confessed to his own affair. But there is still a part of me that feels guilty for leaving. Something like this stays with you always.

  • Broken & Hopeless says:

    My wife is a strong smart woman with a ton of great qualities. She inspires people. And she tears me down relentlessly. We’ve been married for 20 years. I’ve told her countless times that her constant criticism with almost no validation breaks me down, builds resentment, makes me feel powerless, fearful in making decisions and attempting something new, and hopeless about the future. Her response is generally that I’m always out to make her the problem. Recently she discovered she’s an INFJ personality type, which is why she has such an overwhelmed reaction when I tell her she needs to work on her communication skills with me. This has been the case for the entirety of our marriage. For my part, I have not always prioritized our marriage the way I do now, I’ve never been unfaithful to her, but four years ago I was caught up in internet porn and it did further damage to our marriage. I have done everything I can since then to make things right with her and rebuild trust. I generally take responsibility for my mistakes. I own them, apologize, and try to make things right. What am I doing to contribute to this constant dripping criticism? I work two full time jobs, cook all the meals, pack our four children’s lunches, help them with their homework, clean and organize, make the appointments and do the driving, I’m 100% engaged dad. and take our marriage seriously. We go out on date nights often. I schedule them. I send loving texts throughout the day, cards. Tell her daily how beautiful she is, how amazing she is. I’ve written her songs. Showed up at work and surprised her with flowers. Anytime she wants to go out and hang with friends I encourage her to do so. I haven’t always, but I currently support ALL of her dreams and life goals. That’s why I’m doing so much around the house. I’ve been doing that for 2 years now to help get her through school. I generally keep all of her encouraging or validating texts to me saved in my journal. There are a handful. But It’s like a drop in the bucket of a full bucket of criticism. Her biggest complaints are that I’m not doing enough to show her that I care about her. Not. Enough. Not long ago, she told me that our marriage is in the toilet. IN. THE. TOILET. Well, damn. Its one thing when you know you’re not doing your best and are told that you’re stinking it up. It’s another thing entirely when you have made one thing your priority, one thing your main thing, and are told constantly that one thing – your marriage – is the equivalent of a pile of feces. My one and only request of her is that she respect me in the way she speaks to me and would do her best to validate both my efforts, and my character. As we approach another anniversary I wish I could celebrate it. But with each year, I wonder how much longer I’ll survive. I’m caught between two tortures – I want to leave a legacy for my children. I want our marriage to work more than anything, both for us, and for them. I have a vision for our family that is the most important thing in my life. I feel like if I can’t make that work, than anything else I succeed in will be a waste. But I’m wondering if I’m wasting my time here. I am a type 2 on the Enneagram scale and am a helper. I desperately want to feel loved and appreciated. I know that divorce would tear me apart and damage my kids but I don’t know how much longer I can bear up under this. I just want to make my wife happy. I feel like I’ll go to my grave a disappointment. – In the Toilet.

  • Down but not out says:

    First of all I’d like to thank you all for your comments. I didn’t get through all of them but read quite a few. From what I’ve read I have determined that maybe my situation isn’t so bad after all. it’s a bit different than what is being discussed but the emotional result is similar. My wife isn’t necessarily critical of how I do things; it’s a combination of disinterest, derision of things I enjoy and expecting more and more in terms of household responsibility. I do all the meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. I also do my own laundry, I vacuum and take my turn cleaning bathrooms. I take care of the vehicles, all the ‘techy’ things, handyman types of issues, insurance, retirement accounts. I drove kids to countless practices & games and coached for a couple of years. If something is needed in the evening or late at night I’m the one that is running out to get it. I like to watch college football and basketball (my fave team) but essentially don’t watch pro sports at all (i.e. I watched one and a half NFL games last season and don’t watch the NBA or MLB at all). So…I’m not spending my weekends plopped in front of the TV. I play golf but not a lot…a few league nights (6-7) and maybe another 6 or 7 rounds with friends. I work full-time but am home in the evenings and every weekend. I have doted on my wife over the years trying to make her life easier whenever I can. We have been married 35+ years. Yet…my efforts never seem to be enough. She complains that she doesn’t have enough time to get everything done (btw…she works part-time.. <20 hrs/wk and has for years). She stated a number of years ago that it would be helpful if I could do my own laundry…so I did. If I turn on the TV to watch my fave team I hear "that garbage again"… If I go to play golf or have a beer with friends after work I'm not encouraged to "have fun" or "enjoy yourself" and she doesn't ask anything about it when I come home. If I neglect to do something I hear about it without fail. I don't do that with her. Example…if I would happen to forget to bring a dirty dish back to the sink or leave something out I would be told about it. Sometimes it would still be there for me to pick up. If she does that same thing I just put it away (or whatever the case) and don't say anything about it. I have a large circle of friends…some I've known since elementary school. She has none and my friends aren't her friends. That results in me going to socialize by myself and making excuses for why she isn't there. Our musical tastes overlap a little bit but I like some stuff she doesn't and vice versa. However, when she puts on her playlist I listen to it and don't complain. When I put on my playlist she complains and will either leave the room or put on headphones. I plan most of the activities. If we had to rely on her to have a night out or something we'd never do anything.
    Pretty much anything I'm passionate about she has no interest in it or disdains (i.e. fave sports team, sports in general). She routinely forgets our anniversary. Our taste in movies doesn't overlap much. So…as you can probably tell we are mostly complete opposites which is a challenge from the jump. Add complaining, some criticism and disdain/derision into the mix and well…ugh!

    None of these things by themselves are a big deal. I'm more of a go-along to get-along type of person. But…it's like death by a 1,000 cuts…it takes it's toll over the years.

  • Kelby says:

    I have been married 8 years now. I am suffering from anxiety and depression. My husband is very critical of everything i do. Even the littlest of things. I could go grocery shopping and he will criticize. He will criticize what i say or how i drive. It does not help my depression. I think of leaving him often. I do not know how to cope with him doing this. I can see now that it is a control mechanism, it wears at my self esteem and tears me down. I cant process so much criticism from him at once. He says its to “improve” me but i just don’t think he likes me. When i try to respond to him criticizing me he criticizes me more until i can’t take it any more and i have to leave the room, which starts a fight. I can’t understand why or what i should do.

  • Daniel says:

    Dear Wife: “I can handle a little criticism here and here, but this is pulling my spirit down”

    OMG!!!! If I dare uttered that, a one hour lecture would follow. Then followed by a week of double/triple dose of criticism. Then of course would come the mocking of my fragile spirit to all and anyone.

    How do I know…. ha, ha. Tried it! Mrs studies the Bible every day (has read it through over and over). And she prays in tongues every day. And most days I query directly to God if He even exists. No one so close to Him can be such an arse to me. But lucky me, I will die one day and be free.

    • Stit says:

      Me too, Daniel. I agree. Speaking up like that with these types of spouses only douses the flames of their bitter tasting criticisms and possessiveness.

  • Chris says:

    My wife is a wonderful girl. But of late I can’t do anything without criticism. I can drive too slowly and too fast at the same time. Blow my daughters nose wrong, change her nappy wrong, dress her wrong. Almost every action I do is followed with ‘Jesus Christ’. Everything is someone else’s fault.

    We have a toddler who is a complete daddy’s girl, a lot of it down to my wife’s negativity. Which upsets my wife and the circle continues.

    Its a balance of habit and mild depression, which she won’t seek help for (though I’m hoping). I’m working hard on making sure she has time to exercise and get headspace, and trying to steer her to fix the issues, but it does get me down at times.

  • julius says:

    I am very grateful to have encountered this article,,Its happening to me right now. My wife talks everyday to an outside co-worker. They usually talk between the hours of 8pm and 10pm. She does tell me they talk because he sees her as his sister! She talks about him all the time, his dreams and goals within the company. She seems to happy to be on the phone with him. He supposedly is married with kids but that never stops affairs from happening, that I can tell. Ive had thoughts of finding him or confronting her but I have also heard that could drive them closer together. Not sure what to do. I just feel lonely and stuck. until i found a reliable help online who help me reconcile our marriage back together again,, he is capable of any life issues here is his whatsapp+ 17692085860,, good luck to you all,, Amen

  • Stit says:

    I left an extremely abusive relationship for the husband I have today. I blame myself for the issues I’m having. I was impulsive and looking for a quick fix of love and affection. We’ve been together 12 years. Now at 60, I feel as if I’m done. I’m tired and weak and I just give in. This husband is always saying he loves me and smothers me with touching and affection, almost like I’m an object to him. He’s always telling me I’m beautiful and I’m the only thing in the world he has. And I am. His sister and neice, the only remaining living family he has, have distanced themselves from him for political reasons, he’s pushed away all the friends he’s had because he doesn’t like this or that about them and so, I am the only one he has. The thing is, he criticizes me or tries to control me in these little ways. I’m a retired nurse and for the past 5 years, have become a burgeoning artist. I sometimes do 2-3 hours of drawings a day but always manage to make his lunch and dinner (he’s retired too) and listen to his constant stories and news articles he reads to me all day long from the internet. He’s told me several times to limit my drawing time to 1 hour a day. I told him that my drawing is a comfort to me, especially during these times of corona virus isolation. He becomes jealous and says, let me be your comfort. I feel wrong about myself. I feel guilty. I left a marriage before because of a controlling marriage and a christian, I feel wrong about doing so. It’s a sin to leave a marriage for any other reason but adultery. So…I feel I am doomed to everlasting repentance. I feel like I deserved this.

  • Arthur says:

    It is probably too late. I am too sensitive to her criticism. Often i know she is wrong, or there are two ways to look at it and mine us no worse. But i am so crushed when if i try to cook, she says no, you use the wrong salt. Whatever i do is wrong, so the marriage has already become very bitter and sour. To other people she boasts about what a fabulous husband i am. What a great chef, etc. But to me everything is wrong. We are married a long time, i am sad but don’t think she will change. And i started believing her, and thinking that i must be wrong and that everything is my fault. If you read this dont let it happen to you. Leave while you still think your life is worthwhile.

  • Justin H. says:

    If you think your spouse is being critical and controlling now, just wait until the divorce!

    This article hits the nail on the head, when they say “It’s all on you” or comment about how “It’s all about you isn’t it?” (after declining to flatter them through mimicry), they are telling you everything you need to know. It’s all about them, but they have no intention whatsoever of dealing with their problems and they are expecting you to do it for them.

    You are the scapegoat in this situation. Whatever the issue is they are projecting on to you, it is a deep wound that is more important to them than you are. Your purpose when this happens is to ‘compromise’ and be crucified to die for their sins so they can be redeemed and feel vindicated for ‘historical crimes’ against them. You may think I’m being dramatic, but I’m not. I can pretty much guarantee that whatever they’re projecting comes from a deep, old injury, probably caused by one or both of their parental figures.

    Whatever they’re unloading on you know, it’s just a warm-up for the main event. It will gradually increase in frequency, severity, and bizarre outlandishness, until all at once it occurs to you that you aren’t even there anymore. They aren’t actually criticizing you, you aren’t really there. You have been transformed into the symbolic effigy of someone else, and the purpose of this transformation isn’t to improve you or even to improve the one making the criticism, it’s so they can displace some emotional burden and get closure or just vindication against someone else by way psychological transference of their faults to you. They are transforming you into a symbolic representation of someone else for the purpose of destroying the representation. And they will destroy you without ever acknowledging that it’s not the real you.

    It’s a form of psychological iconoclasm.

    Depending on just how damaged they are, maybe they might be open to therapy to address their insecurities and anxieties resulting from their lack of control, but especially if you see this behavior emerging from multiple members of your spouses family (Step-Father, Mother, Aunt, etc.) my advice is to RUN. GET OUT THEY WILL TRY TO DESTROY YOU. But do it quietly if possible. Depending on the nature of the wound and the level of resentment it imprinted in them, the symbolic vindication against a historical villain might very well be more important to them than a happy successful family. If the would is deep enough, they won’t even treat you as human afterward.

    Don’t be the schmuck holding the bag for someone else’s wrongdoings, be judged for who YOU are and what YOUR faults are, the failures of 50 years ago are NOT on you and never were.

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