… and I do things that frustrate him. We just got married last year, and I’ve been wondering: is it better to give him constructive criticism or just try and support him to keep the peace? – Aisha, 26
“My husband has habits that annoy me. Is it better to give him constructive criticism or just try and support him to keep the peace?”
“I’ve seen thousands of marriages end, and it’s rarely because of one huge issue. It’s usually little things that separate couples emotionally until respect is lost.
Divorce is death by a thousand paper cuts, and the habits you describe may be paper cuts. Constructive criticism can be like a slap in the face – a loving slap still hurts and it isn’t the best way to get him to stop. Rather praise the good things he does to reinforce behaviours you want.
You’re newlyweds, so now is the best time to set good habits!” – James J Sexton, divorce lawyer “I lean towards constructive criticism, rather than towards staying silent. Your voice should be heard! Just know that if you open up about issues, you have to allow for criticism to be directed at you, too.
Also, it’s not an either -or situation; sharing how you feel doesn’t mean that you no longer support someone. If your partner can’t tell you when you’re being annoying, who can?” – Kara Brown, writer
“I think it’s important to pick your battles in any relationship. My goal is to find a balance between ‘see something, say something’ and biting your tongue so hard that you give yourself an unintentional piercing.
If the habit harms your spouse or will drive you insane over time, you may want to share your thoughts, but do so kindly. I like to leave gentle reminders – like a note on my husband’s Crocs that says, ‘Why do you hate yourself?!’” – Melissa Rauch, actress
“No one looks for criticism. If you tell him he’s messing up, he will defend himself. Instead, explain the ripple effects of his habit. Walk him through what he does in a non-judgmental way, so he can consider the consequences of his actions.
Don’t turn your frustrations into an angry row; that’s when you’ll make your worst appeal and he won’t be motivated to change.” – Sarah Bennett, coauthor of F*ck Love: One shrinks sensible advice for finding a lasting relationship (Touchstone Books; R344)