What we want is for them to respond positively to what we are requesting, but it typically does not have that effect.
So if complaining is counterproductive, how can we find more constructive ways to get the point across effectively:
1. Just talk.
One of the best ways to positively communicate what is bothering me is to just say it. No jab, no sarcasm, just “I would really like it if you would stop leaving dishes in the sink – please.” I know all my fellow husbands resonate with me on that one – okay maybe, maybe not (LOL.) But, the point is that often by just saying what is bothering us in forthright, plain terms, we gain the ear of our spouse much more effectively than the tone that can sometimes accompany our complaints.
2. X (+) Y= Z.
Rather than complaining about always being late, it may be more effective to let them know how their behavior or quirk makes you feel. When you do “x” and “y” it makes me feel like “z”. For example, “when you are late” + “don’t call” it makes me feel = “that you don’t care.” This is really a neat way of letting your spouse know what is bothering you and allowing them to know how you feel…but much more effective than just, “You are always late.”
3. Stay on the same side.
Whether intentional or not, complaints separate the couple into the categories of the accused and the accuser. It places one one spouse lower than the other. So when complaining is removed from our relationship, we gain the ability to walk side by side rather than assigning rank.
It is always easier to bring up an issue when you are willing to walk beside the person to find a solution. For the reality is, the very person that becomes alienated when they find them self on the critical end of a complaint is the same person that will need to be a part of solving the issue.
Recent studies show that couples argue less and resolve conflicts quicker when they use inclusive “us” and “we" language as opposed to drawing battle lines with “you” and “I.”So stay on the same page – work through it together – side by side.