Healthy Complaints actually keep a relationship clean and growing. However, when out of frustration and pain, we start to Criticize or show Contempt, there is danger of a permanent break in the relationship. Healthy Complaints use “I Statements” to share my concerns. Example: “I do not like the way we are interacting. We do not spend enough time together, especially on fun things.” Unhealthy Criticism uses “You Statements” to attack others’ behaviors. Example: “You never come home and spend time with me.” Unhealthy Contempt uses “You Statements” to attack others’ character Example: “You don’t care anything about being a husband/wife and never fulfill your commitment to the kids and me.”
Complaints can be very healthy: We need to learn how to state our wants, needs, and desires directly so the people around us can understand exactly what we are saying. A good Complaint states openly what the person wants. For example: “I want to eat at home tonight. I am tired of eating out.” or “I want to eat at Bob Evans tonight. They have a special pot pie that I really like.” A direct statement is easily understood and easily responded to by our family. “Okay, we can go to Bob Evans for the pot pie, but I want to eat at Panera next week.” Such statements may cause us to become a bit nervous about being selfish, but clear statements are much easier to deal with than hints that require us to read minds or a passive-aggressive response that erupts into a fight later. An example of a passive-aggressive comment is: “Of course we can eat at the Greasy Spoon, dear.” Internal self-talk: “That rat never does what I want. He always gets his way.” The second way seems humble, but nearly always ends up in a fight for the internal discussion and self-talk is filled with Criticism and Contempt.
Criticism is blaming others Contempt is shaming others
Remove all B.S. from your marriage and family life. Stop accusing others of being totally responsible for problems that have two or more people involved in them. In a family, no one person is to blame, but all members must accept their part of the responsibility.