How to Stop Criticism and Other Hurts in Your Relationship

by Relationship Coach Rinatta Paries on May 6, 2013

in Break-ups and Divorce, client story, Dating, Marriage, Men's Help, Relationships, Singles, Women's Help

Many times my coaching practice has a theme of the week. This is not something I set up, but rather the majority of clients seem to come into their coaching session on a given week with similar agenda.

This week the theme is “things you should never put up with in a relationship.”

Here’s a list of behaviors and words that my clients have put up with from their partners:

  • Physical appearance and body parts criticism
  • Clothing choice criticism
  • Name calling and being cursed out
  • Being yelled at
  • Hearing so many things that are wrong, that there’s no way to resolve any of them
  • Physically being intimated by a partner getting in their face
  • Being stone-walled and not talked to for hours or days
  • Partner saying hurtful things because they feel hurt
  • Partner continuing to fight even when being asked to take a break
  • Being told to stop being oversensitive
  • Flat out being lied to
  • Being laughed at and dismissed when trying to have a conversation to solve some of these

As I listened to this growing list, from both men and women this week, I had to shake my head and wonder why people put up with being treated this way from their intimate partner.

I asked one of my clients this question and she said that she was not putting up with it. When her partner treats her badly she tells him that it hurts her and tried to explain why and what he should do instead. Another client told me that she deals with this kind of treatment from her partner by withdrawing and crying. When he goes to touch her, she pulls away from him. A male client told me he shuts down and tries to get away from his partner when she does some of these hurtful things.

But none of these actions work. Talking to your partner about his or her behavior is not very effective. Nor is withdrawing, shutting down, or crying. Attacking or hurting back also doesn’t work. None of these choices will make your partner stop doing the things you want him or her to stop doing.

Therein is the dilemma. If you are doing any of these, you are still putting up with being treated badly in the relationship. You don’t want to be treated badly, but you can’t make it stop. Your only choice seems to be to end the relationship, which you don’t want to do either. So what do you do?

In order for you to stop your partner from treating you badly in small and big ways, without having to leave the relationship, you will have to do something entirely different. The steps for what to do differently are listed below.

  1. Become the kind of person who values yourself so highly that being treated badly does not make you question yourself. It should never occur to you to ask yourself what is wrong with you that you would provoke this kind of treatment. Question instead what is wrong with the other person, that they would treat someone this way.
  2. Stop interacting with your partner as soon as unkind words or actions start to happen. As soon as criticism, yelling, stonewalling, or anything else happens that feels bad to you, simply stop in the middle of whatever you two are doing. Tell your partner, very calmly, that it’s no longer okay to treat you like this and it will stop now. Move on to step 3, below.
  3. Calmly tell your partner that he or she does not have to agree with you. But, if he or she wants to be around you, you are going to have to be treated and spoken to according to your wishes. Never argue. Arguing does not work. There’s no such thing as winning an argument. Arguing will not make your partner treat you better. Instead, simply be unwilling to be treated in ways that make you feel bad.
  4. Accept nothing but the best treatment of yourself and the kindest words. This does not mean that you react with anger when people are unkind.
  5. When unkind words and actions are happening in your space, find a way to distance yourself from them. Distance because you are taking care of yourself, instead of trying to impact, teach, or hurt your partner, and you will get a very different reaction.

Here’s what this looks like in action:

Example 1:  Body criticism from partner, name calling and being cursed out by partner, etc.

  1.  As soon as you hear your partner utter an unkind comment about your body, do not for a second wonder if he is right. Know you are perfect the way you are. Wonder what’s going on with him that he would say that.
  2. Tell him that you are no longer willing to hear any uncomplimentary comments about your body, at all. He is however welcome to compliment you as much as he would like.
  3. Tell him that if he continues to either criticize you or argue with you about it, you are going to have to not be around him right now.
  4. If he does not stop immediately, remove yourself from the situation.

The result: If you repeatedly practice this set of actions in response to being treated badly or criticized by your partner, you should see a marked improvement in the way you are treated.

Example 2:  Being stone-walled and not talked to for hours or days, either in person or on the phone

  1. As soon as you sense you are being stonewalled, know that nothing you did is to blame. Know that nothing anyone does ever causes stonewalling. Wonder what is going on with your partner that she is not talking to you.
  2. Become unwilling to cater to and interact with the stonewalling. Often that means you remove yourself from the situation.
  3. Be out in the world, enjoying your life, so that you are not even aware that your partner is trying to stonewall you.
  4. Do not reach out to your partner on the phone or in person to make things better, even if you are afraid that this could mean the end of the relationship.

The result: When you don’t go after your partner, he or she is very likely to reach out to you> he or she is also much less likely to try to manipulate you with silence the next time something goes wrong.

Do you see how the actions I am suggesting are very different from either getting upset and demanding being treated better, or worst yet, ending the relationship when you really don’t want to? Try these steps and see if you get a better relationship as a result.

[stextbox id=”red_box”]If these suggestions don’t exactly fit your situation, and you want steps that solve your specific relationship struggle, I invite you schedule a 30-minute Get Clarity Coaching Session with me.

In the coaching session I will help you get very clear on what will help you in YOUR relationship.[/stextbox]


Photo Credit: Toni Blay via photopin cc

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