The Right Way to Complain

When you need to complain to your partner about something they’re doing or a situation you both are in, it’s easy for things to go sideways. From tone to word choice, you could offend them in a number of different ways. The chances of what you say coming off as criticism are high. It may cause your partner to criticize you back, get defensive, or shut down completely.

So how do you bring up touchy subjects with care and compassion?

Listen to Dr. Julie Gottman explain the key to effectively communicating your needs to your partner without hurting their feelings.

Remember, the antidote to criticism is the Softened Start-Up.

So the next time you need to remind your partner to take the trash out like they said they would, pause. Take a moment to consider how you phrase your complaint. Look for the positive need within and gently approach.

Want more help keeping the Four Horsemen out of your relationship? Join Certified Gottman Therapists Faith Drew and George Bitar as they present at the next Art and Science of Love virtual workshop. You will learn how to prevent destructive patterns like criticism from harming you and your partner. Register today!


The Marriage Minute is an email newsletter from The Gottman Institute that will improve your marriage in 60 seconds or less. More than 40 years of research with thousands of couples proves a simple fact: small things often can create big changes over time. Got a minute? Sign up below.

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