Author Topic: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?  (Read 23303 times)

Argyle

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #50 on: October 26, 2014, 05:34:52 PM »
Also -- this notion that everything should be improved all the time, and that the criticizer/feedback-giver (your choice) is the one to say what "improved" means.  To person A, "improvement" means loading the dishwasher in a certain way.  To person B, "improvement" might mean "the freedom to load the dishwasher any old way without worrying about it."  Or "The freedom and peace of being able to do things the way I want without being hassled about it."  Person A is short-sighted to think his "improvement" automatically trumps B's "improvement."

shitzmagee

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #51 on: October 27, 2014, 05:33:43 AM »
Also -- this notion that everything should be improved all the time, and that the criticizer/feedback-giver (your choice) is the one to say what "improved" means.  To person A, "improvement" means loading the dishwasher in a certain way.  To person B, "improvement" might mean "the freedom to load the dishwasher any old way without worrying about it."  Or "The freedom and peace of being able to do things the way I want without being hassled about it."  Person A is short-sighted to think his "improvement" automatically trumps B's "improvement."

You're assuming the person giving feedback assumes they are always right. That assumption is probably a safe one if the person giving feedback really is just a jerk. But what if they're not? Let me try to explain using our dinner example and iterating through the steps DW and I have made over the last decade.

Step 1. When DW and I started living together I would give feedback using terms like "I think." Like "I think you should use fresh cilantro next time instead of dried." DW's defenses would immediately go up and she would say something like "If you don't like it then you can cook next time." She said she felt like I was always criticizing her.

Step 2. In order to try not to come off as critical I changed the "I think you should" to "I think we should" in an effort to signify that it doesn't matter who cooks (not criticizing the cook, but the recipe). This made almost no difference to DW since as a homemaker she does almost all the cooking. She again told me she felt that all I do is criticize her.

Step 3. My takeaway from the last step was that she needed more positive feedback to balance things out. So I started with "Dinner was great Babe, but I think we should..." This again had little effect because all she heard was "but I think you should..." When we talked about it she asked me what makes my way better than her way. That's when a mini light bulb went off for me. She was making the same assumption you are above. She was assuming that I think my way is the right way. She felt that we were not equal teammates in our relationship and that it was "my way or get criticized." This definitely wasn't my intent so I tried to convince her of that while also thinking of how I could change my communication again to better convey this.

Step 4. I realized that when I was saying "I think we should," what I was really meaning to do was simply open a dialogue on the topic. I rephrased to "Dinner was great Babe. What do you think about using fresh cilantro?" We had some improvement immediately, but sometimes DW interpreted this as a loaded question meant to criticize. I continue to reassure her that I am simply asking a question to open a dialogue and the right answer is whatever we agree to as a team after that dialogue. She can reply with something like "I would have used fresh cilantro this time, but our herb garden is empty and fresh cilantro is expensive at the store now" or something like "I thought of that, but don't want to because fresh cilantro would over power (pick some other ingredient)" or something like "we tried fresh cilantro last time and we didn't like it. Don't you remember dummy?" All of those are valid responses to the original question. As that dialogue continues, we as a team would eventually compromise on whether using fresh cilantro next time is something worth trying. If it's not, no big deal. If it is, no big deal. Either way, we just spent 5 mins sharing each other's thought processes with no judging, criticizing or yelling and we came to a compromise as equal partners.

At this point in my own relationship, we've seen drastic improvement in our communication since getting to step 4 but the key was reassuring her that we are equal partners and her ideas for why she did or didn't do something a certain way are just as valid as mine and my feedback isn't loaded with criticism but rather simply meant to open a dialogue.

golden1

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #52 on: October 27, 2014, 06:53:39 AM »
Shitzmagee, your steps 1-4 are exactly what my husband has evolved to over the course of our almost 25 year relationship.  Congrats to you on making those mental leaps and changing your communication style.

I remember an early interaction with my husband's family.   Now my family was relatively egalitarian in cooking and cleaning.  Both my mother and stepfather cooked, and no one ever criticized meals.  It just simply wasn't done. 

Now in my my husbands family, my MIL does ALL the cooking.  The only thing my FIL cooks is toast.  I remember going to a meal over their house and it was a very good meal.  At the end of the meal, there was no "thanks for cooking", just "The chicken was dry.".  I remember being horrified at rude it seemed!  My MIL just nodded and that was that.  It didn't seem to bother her.  When I first got married, my husband started criticising my cooking in the same way, and it really bothered me.  It took me awhile to realize that while I perceived it as rude, he didn't see it that way at all, just as trying to make things better.  Now he balances it out by making sure he does compliment me at least as much as criticize.  He also uses similar communication style to shitzmagee.  Instead making a criticism, he makes it a conversation without judgement. 

I think when people criticize, it is casting judgement, which is a powerful thing to do.  It is essentially saying "You are wrong, I am right.  I know better than you do."  IMO, you have to make judgements with care.  And if someone in a relationship is constantly casting judgement over and over, it can really erode away at a person.

Spondulix

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #53 on: October 27, 2014, 09:51:24 PM »
It's hard to be empathetic sometimes when your partner is being critical of you. But, if our significant other is that critical of others, how critical are they of themselves? When you look at it that way, you can reframe it and ask, "what is he/she experiencing emotionally in these moments, and what can I do to address that?" versus asking "what am I doing wrong that I need to change?" One feeds the cycle, while the other breaks it.

He's probably not a jerk. You wouldn't be together if he was. Any chance he's a perfectionist?

(and kudos for asking here - savings hundreds of dollars for great advice vs spending on books and therapy. Go MMM'ers!)

theadvicist

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #54 on: October 28, 2014, 08:34:21 AM »
I have had this issue with my husband, where he is just trying to be helpful, but I can interpret it as criticism.

It came to a head in an airport when he saw me holding my passport and a boarding card, and he said, "If I were you, I would fold your boarding card such, and tuck it in here, and...", I and just said, "Dude, I didn't ask for your input. I'm perfectly capable of deciding what I do with it". And we laughed. Now, whenever he's getting 'helpful', I say, "I didn't ask for your input..." in a joking way and he checks himself and we giggle. It's extra funny when I can see he's bursting to tell me exactly how I should do something totally inconsequential 'right'.

Now, when I try a new recipe, for example, I deliberately ask for input, because I know he loves to improve things! And I will take a problem to him, 'I'm trying to decide how to file these photographs on my computer...', but we've kind of agreed that he only gives his opinion about HOW I'm doing something when I ask for it. Obviously he gives his opinion on everything else freely, just not how I am doing something that he is not involved in.

This is better than him saying, "I'd chop the onion the other way", and me glaring, 'DO YOU WANNA CHOP THE GODDAM ONION? NO?' like I used to.

Might that help at all? Just telling him to reel it in unless it's actually important? Or is all of his 'advice' about actual stuff (because I know most people's spouses do not care how onions are chopped)?

rujancified

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #55 on: October 28, 2014, 09:14:30 AM »
Caveat to end all caveats: I am married & female, but we do not have children yet.

We are relatively egalitarian on cooking (he's a much better chef, I probably cook/prepare dinner more often, but only slightly) and have sorted out an inside (me)/outside (him) divide on home upkeep. It works for now, but I'm fully aware it will likely be unsustainable when we have children - It won't be as easy for me to work full time, cook dinner, do the laundry, and clean the kitchen while nursing a child.

Where this circles back to criticism: We are both know-it-alls who love to tweak/optimize everything. Regardless of who cooked, we're both equally likely to say "Should have added more garlic/less oregano/whatever." No offense taken, because we have similar tastes wrt to how food is prepared.

But if I do all the laundry and he says "Shirts should be folded this way," I'd be annoyed as hell. However, if he were to frame it as "I can't fit all my shirts in the drawer if you double fold them, can you lay them flat?" That shit makes perfect sense and I can roll with it. Could you ask your husband to reframe requests? Or just ask "Why?" when he gives feedback to dig into his motivation? Motivation is the difference between Jerk and Trying To Be Helpful, so that's at least part of the issue.

Cassie

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #56 on: October 28, 2014, 04:50:50 PM »
Sometimes when people are providing excessive feedback it is because they feel out of control so need to control everything in their world in order to feel secure, ok, etc.  Too much feedback is exhausting to the receiver. Discussing every little thing to death is tiring.  I was married to someone like this for 22 years. Went into the marriage with high self-esteem & left it with low self esteem.  Went to 4 different therapists during that time.  Finally, I left and now have a wonderful marriage.  The ex was really sorry he lost me & treats his new wife better-told me he really learned something from losing me.  Home should be a wonderful refuge from the world and not a place where you need to perform in better & better ways.   

Cressida

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #57 on: October 28, 2014, 06:51:47 PM »
It came to a head in an airport when he saw me holding my passport and a boarding card, and he said, "If I were you, I would fold your boarding card such, and tuck it in here, and..."

I will never understand this behavior. Why the fuck would anyone be this obnoxious? I've mostly trained DH out of it, but being bossy over something that MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO ANYTHING IN THE WORLD is just burning relationship points for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Do the math, bossy spouses. Not Worth It.

scrubbyfish

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #58 on: October 28, 2014, 06:56:35 PM »
Home should be a wonderful refuge from the world and not a place where you need to perform in better & better ways.

I like that, Cassie. Some thoughts that come to mind upon reading yours:

1. How do two people who are newly together create a home that is that wonderful refuge without giving feedback? (This is not an argument of your post, just something I am now pondering. I imagine the key is in the word "excessive", such as you used.)

2. I like something Melalvai said in a different thread. To paraphrase, "If I am being nitpicky/tense/controlling, it can help me if the person across from me asks gently and lovingly, 'Is anything worrying you?'" Melalvai's wisdom totally resonated for me. I, for one, totally relax if someone asks me this (and we subsequently address the actual stress).

3. If we feel the need to give a lot of "feedback", month after month, and nothing resolves that, perhaps it means the relationship is simply not a good fit. i.e., If that much is not working, there may be essential incompatibilities. A possibility worth looking at in some cases. i.e., Does ongoing feedback indirectly indicate a fundamental unhappiness? I feel I very reluctantly learned this in my last relationship. In it, we both gave feedback, and it took me a long time to understand that the content of the feedback -as well as the style in which some of it was delivered (e.g., eyerolling on my partner's part, one of the "four horsemen")- indicated issues that were quite possibly unresolvable. We may not feel the need to give so much feedback to someone we are more compatible with.

4. Something that did work well for my ex and I, though, was this: In a relationship course we took in tandem, we were taught to use the phrase, "Would you be willing to...?" It's a request, it's gentle, it lets the other assess not merely their capacity to do whatever but their actual willingness, and it lets them make a choice. We both loved this. Whenever we heard the phrase, it felt like a code that reminded us of the course and our hope/intention to stay together, which made us willing to answer almost every request phrased this way with a yes. It was neat. For me, when the phrase came I knew he had reflected, was really working with what he'd learned in the course -which said a lot to me about his hope/intention- and I absolutely felt myself drop into a space of total openness to really hear and consider the request, and say yes whenever possible. It didn't resolve the other issues (obviously), but it really helped the feedback part.

This whole thread reminds me that something I would seek in a future relationship is active collaboration, and each of us asking each other for feedback/thoughts/input/ideas. That's something important to me. In fact, this would be a large point of a relationship to me. (I'm one of those "improvement junkies", and I feel that MUCH of my last partner's input really helped me to improve and expand my life, which I appreciate to this day!)

N

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #59 on: October 29, 2014, 03:07:07 AM »
Im finding this thread interesting- lots of good stuff.

In my relationship, Im the one who tends to give feedback, suggestions and advice, and most of it is unwelcome. Ive tried very hard to stop, and think I am much better now.
FWIW, my intention is to be helpful, but it is perceived as controlling and if it is perceived that way, it is that way.

My partner, he doesn't criticize, but he uses a lot of sarcasm and negativity. It takes a lot of mental work on my part not to get sucked into an argument or confrontation with him, but I think I am improving. He is often oppositional, as a first response. Sometimes I just need to wait until he works himself around to being agreeable. I REALLY wish he could just skip all that bs, but until he can, my best tactic is to wait. Or respond with lightness or humor. Sometimes more difficult than others, I do get triggered.

Like others said, you really can only change yourself and your response. Changing your perspective, your self-talk, and your internal narration is hard, but it may be the only way to be at peace in your relationship.

Some questions I ask myself: Is it true?
This means,  is my reaction true and truthful, but also, is the intention/motivation Im ascribing to my partner true?

I also ask myself: Can I think about this later?
I am often too easily tempted down a mental rabbit hole of anger, depression, sadness, but if I can delay thinking about it, I almost always find that Im not as upset later, after some time has passed. objectivity.

I also ask myself: What can I do to make this better, right now, in the future. How am I contributing to this problem?

I also recomend the book The Five Love Languages. May shed light on how each others personalities are affecting communication/relationship.

I think, in my case, lots of our tension/problem comes because we dont communicate effectively, but we dont comm. effectively because we are disconnected, stressed, have limited time together, limited space in which to share that time, ongoing physical issues (chronic pain), young children. THe more disconnected I feel, the emptier my own cup feels, the less I feel like accomodating my partner. Its a negative loop, because the less I feel like accomodating him, the less compassion and tenderness I feel for him, the less we communicate, and the less we touch, compliment, praise etc. You get the idea.

So, probably part of repairing and changing the communication dynamic is going to be managing/mitigating the other stresses as well.

Its a tall order. But also allows for more learning about oneself, chance for enlightenment, chance for happiness, chance for children to experience happy homelife and learn important relationship skills, too.


Apples

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #60 on: October 29, 2014, 06:49:02 AM »

Apples - I do not know the words for which you speak...but I am very intrigued. Is this related to the book that goldielocks mentioned, "The Five Love Languages"?

Yes, it's from The Five Love Languages.  Look up a quick description online to give you a general idea about it, but it's a good read too.

Malaysia41

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #61 on: October 29, 2014, 07:12:54 AM »
I'm exhausted skimming over this thread.

Feeling thankful for my DH. 

We talk to each other as partners not f'ing coaches or bosses to subordinates. I don't need permission to call bullshit on DH, nor he with me... And he damned well knows to show appreciation for a meal cooked for him and leave it at that.  He cooks the meal when he wants it different.

Cassie

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #62 on: October 29, 2014, 12:43:49 PM »
I think that part of this entire issue is whether or not people are compatible. With my first hubby if I had lived with him first I would never have married him. I stuck it out for the kids for 22 years & really tried to make things better.  With my 2nd we lived together for 5 years before getting married.  Our relationship is mostly just easy and when problems arise we work thru them.  I do think that people can learn to communicate better but if you are not compatible I do not think all the counseling or other techniques in the world will work and this is coming from a mental health professional.  Also when someone is always being criticized it is akin to putting nails in a coffin. You start your relationship with no nails but as things progress you start nailing the lid shut.   Once it is completely nailed you no longer love, respect or even want to be friends with that person. That is the end of relationships. You no longer like the person. I think that people do not realize that they literally are killing their relationships when they provide excessive unwanted feedback. 

Beaker

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #63 on: October 29, 2014, 01:58:36 PM »
Lots of interesting stuff here. I particularly like @shitzmagee's 4 steps - I've been through something very similar. I'll throw in a couple of tactics I've used to try to soften feedback so that it doesn't come across as criticism.

1. Say something nice before and after anything critical. "That was a tasty dinner. Maybe we could try fresh cilantro next time? Oh, and thanks for making it, I didn't have the energy." There's some fancy name for this technique (it came from a course on giving performance reviews), but I always think of it as "the shit sandwich" for reasons that I hope are obvious.

2. Direct the feedback at something other than the person. Rather than "you used too much cilantro", try "the recipe called for too much cilantro." But make sure it's not their own invention or something they've been cooking for generations. :)

3. Phrase things as criticism of yourself. "The last time I used a recipe from there it wasn't that great. I put in more cilantro than it called for and that was better." Of course this requires that you actually do whatever it is yourself sometimes.

lhamo

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #64 on: October 29, 2014, 04:19:44 PM »
I think, in my case, lots of our tension/problem comes because we dont communicate effectively, but we dont comm. effectively because we are disconnected, stressed, have limited time together, limited space in which to share that time, ongoing physical issues (chronic pain), young children. THe more disconnected I feel, the emptier my own cup feels, the less I feel like accomodating my partner. Its a negative loop, because the less I feel like accomodating him, the less compassion and tenderness I feel for him, the less we communicate, and the less we touch, compliment, praise etc. You get the idea.

So, probably part of repairing and changing the communication dynamic is going to be managing/mitigating the other stresses as well.

Its a tall order. But also allows for more learning about oneself, chance for enlightenment, chance for happiness, chance for children to experience happy homelife and learn important relationship skills, too.

This is EXACTLY the pattern we struggle with -- though in my case replace the chronic pain issue with chronic depression/anxiety.

I was feeling VERY down on Monday and Tuesday.  Maybe some weird chemical thing related to my loss of blood.  Some of it situational (got news at work that my best employee might leave soon).  Wasn't able to work MOnday afternoon -- thought taking some time off might help but it didn't.  CAme home in tears on Tuesday.  Unfortunately DH launched into yet another "you just need to accept the reality, pull up your bootstraps and get on with it" pep talk.  I know he means well, but geez -- a person who is on the verge of mental/physical collapse from a year of working 10-12 hour days and who still has a mountain of work staring her in the face that is not likely to get better any time soon doesn't have the fortitude to pull up her bootstraps!  I want to take the fucking boots OFF and go hang out on a beach somewhere for 3-6 months, for gods sake!  I'm toying with the idea of getting the surgeon who is looking at my finger to order me into the hospital for gallbladder surgery as a way of getting a few days off.  Except I know that will only cause things to pile up ever deeper and higher and lead to more stress immediately after.

I'm thinking the time may have come to get myself into counseling, if nothing else then to have a place I can go once a week to get this stuff off my chest without being told I just need to suck it up.  I love DH and I know he means well.  And he's right to a certain extent -- I do kind of need to just suck it up and get through this last leg of what has been a very exhausting and painful journey.  But sometimes you just need someone to listen to you and not tell you the fifty million things you are doing/thinking wrong.

They are supposed to make an offer to the candidate for the Directorship this week.  Finally.  I don't know why the process of checking references has taken a month.  I hope he will accept.  And that I can get through my performance review next week without having a total breakdown. 

Almost through another week. 


daverobev

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #65 on: October 29, 2014, 05:01:58 PM »
I think, in my case, lots of our tension/problem comes because we dont communicate effectively, but we dont comm. effectively because we are disconnected, stressed, have limited time together, limited space in which to share that time, ongoing physical issues (chronic pain), young children. THe more disconnected I feel, the emptier my own cup feels, the less I feel like accomodating my partner. Its a negative loop, because the less I feel like accomodating him, the less compassion and tenderness I feel for him, the less we communicate, and the less we touch, compliment, praise etc. You get the idea.

So, probably part of repairing and changing the communication dynamic is going to be managing/mitigating the other stresses as well.

Its a tall order. But also allows for more learning about oneself, chance for enlightenment, chance for happiness, chance for children to experience happy homelife and learn important relationship skills, too.

This is EXACTLY the pattern we struggle with -- though in my case replace the chronic pain issue with chronic depression/anxiety.

I was feeling VERY down on Monday and Tuesday.  Maybe some weird chemical thing related to my loss of blood.  Some of it situational (got news at work that my best employee might leave soon).  Wasn't able to work MOnday afternoon -- thought taking some time off might help but it didn't.  CAme home in tears on Tuesday.  Unfortunately DH launched into yet another "you just need to accept the reality, pull up your bootstraps and get on with it" pep talk.  I know he means well, but geez -- a person who is on the verge of mental/physical collapse from a year of working 10-12 hour days and who still has a mountain of work staring her in the face that is not likely to get better any time soon doesn't have the fortitude to pull up her bootstraps!  I want to take the fucking boots OFF and go hang out on a beach somewhere for 3-6 months, for gods sake!  I'm toying with the idea of getting the surgeon who is looking at my finger to order me into the hospital for gallbladder surgery as a way of getting a few days off.  Except I know that will only cause things to pile up ever deeper and higher and lead to more stress immediately after.

I'm thinking the time may have come to get myself into counseling, if nothing else then to have a place I can go once a week to get this stuff off my chest without being told I just need to suck it up.  I love DH and I know he means well.  And he's right to a certain extent -- I do kind of need to just suck it up and get through this last leg of what has been a very exhausting and painful journey.  But sometimes you just need someone to listen to you and not tell you the fifty million things you are doing/thinking wrong.

They are supposed to make an offer to the candidate for the Directorship this week.  Finally.  I don't know why the process of checking references has taken a month.  I hope he will accept.  And that I can get through my performance review next week without having a total breakdown. 

Almost through another week.

I know it's... cheesy?... but have you, or rather has he, read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus?

Might be worth a try if not.

sheepstache

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #66 on: October 29, 2014, 05:54:09 PM »
Also -- this notion that everything should be improved all the time, and that the criticizer/feedback-giver (your choice) is the one to say what "improved" means.  To person A, "improvement" means loading the dishwasher in a certain way.  To person B, "improvement" might mean "the freedom to load the dishwasher any old way without worrying about it."  Or "The freedom and peace of being able to do things the way I want without being hassled about it."  Person A is short-sighted to think his "improvement" automatically trumps B's "improvement."

You're assuming the person giving feedback assumes they are always right. That assumption is probably a safe one if the person giving feedback really is just a jerk. But what if they're not? Let me try to explain using our dinner example and iterating through the steps DW and I have made over the last decade.
<snip>

 As that dialogue continues, we as a team would eventually compromise on whether using fresh cilantro next time is something worth trying. If it's not, no big deal. If it is, no big deal. Either way, we just spent 5 mins sharing each other's thought processes with no judging, criticizing or yelling and we came to a compromise as equal partners.

This is a great explanation and sounds like it's working out for you, but I don't think it addresses the point Argyle was making. You're the one who's convinced that dialogue is a great thing and that these 5 minutes you two spent together were a great use of time.  Your wife might just be like, "thank god he's not bugging me so much any more; I guess I can put up with this." You talk about how you've compromised, but it's really minor, you've just altered the words you use; you haven't questioned your fundamental assumptions and preferences.

It's like my example of my SO not liking my playing devil's advocate in conversations. I could have danced around, re-arranging the deck chairs on the titanic, coming up with all sorts of different ways to take the opposing viewpoint without bothering him, but ultimately it was my constantly taking an opposing viewpoint that was bothering him. As senseless and boring as it seems to me to have a conversation where the other person is just like, 'yup,' 'uh-huh,' 'I agree with you,' (just as it may seem to you a senseless waste of opportunity for improvement to simply smile and say how much you enjoyed dinner) that's what he wants once in awhile because that's who he is and it's okay.

Your marriage is much longer than my relationship, so I am by no means trying to offer advice! Just to illustrate the point. The longevity of your relationship might in fact be illustrating the point that the fundamental issue doesn't matter that much. Your wife may in fact be happy just because she sees you changing things in response to her unhappiness and your general devotion to making the relationship work might matter more to her than being unhappy about the smaller issue.

Dinner was great.
Why do you need to be *told* you look nice??
That was a tasty dinner.

It seems that to many people's minds something positive always has to be bland and information-less.  But positive feedback can look like this: "Wow, I love your decision to use fresh cilantro with this!" It might feel funny, but what about, "I've noticed the dishes are a lot cleaner lately and I really appreciate it." My mom works with dogs a lot and this is called clicker training, and, per my upthread post, it's more effective than negative feedback, but it is more frustrating for the trainer. For example, you're probably thinking, 'But I'm not trying to encourage her to use fresh cilantro all the time, necessarily, I just meant it worked really well with that particular dish."  But you know what, sometimes you just have to let the person know when what they're doing really works and trust them to sort it out themselves. Plus, it will allow you the 5 minutes of sharing your thought processes as a team that means a lot to you.


Personally, I guess I'm more of a problem solver than an improver. So I happily give feedback and have a lot of communication about stuff, which might look like an improver at first, but ultimately, I expect the problem to be solved and to be able to stop communicating about it. I want to find a dish we both like and put that topic behind us so that we can move on to new challenges. So if negative feedback is constantly being given, I feel like that may indicate the situation is unfixable and something is deeply wrong.

It's like, if your car keeps breaking down, this isn't necessarily best framed as a great opportunity to have dialogues with your mechanic about ways to improve it. It might be an indication that you need a new car.

Or to reverse this thought:
It's hard to be empathetic sometimes when your partner is being critical of you. But, if our significant other is that critical of others, how critical are they of themselves?
think of it from the non-complainer's viewpoint. Is it possible they think everything is perfect and sunshine and baby bunnies and there's no room for improvement anywhere? Or do they choose not to express it because they think it would be inappropriate? That influences how they interpret the actions of others. 'That must really be bothering them for them to have spoken up about it because I'd have to be deeply bothered by something to bring it up like that.'
Or as shelivesthedream expressed, perhaps the non-complainer is super critical of herself and that's why she doesn't want it from outside.


The particular areas you interpret might vary by culture, like I said, and I was raised in such a way that I agree with mm1970, mozar, Cressida and golden1 that criticizing meals is a no go. I'm actually fortunate that my SO, a glutton, never has anything bad to say about food I serve him except sometimes, 'I wish there were more.' Okay, not really, sometimes he'll say, 'This is the third time this week we've had lentils,' or he'll be upset I forgot he doesn't like ginger, etc. But in this context I think those are perfectly legitimate issues to bring up. My point is that there are a lot of different standards of politeness and they often have to do with how you were raised rather than rational thinking but they matter no less because of that.  I was reading Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and at her birthday dinner she starts complaining that her daughters (middle and high school age) put it together as a last-minute thing and that the birthday cards they made her seemed very slapdash and last-minute. And I literally stopped breathing for a few moments. Because I was like, you don't criticize what someone does for you as a gift! That's just not done! But the point of her whole book is that Chinese parenting is quite different from mainstream American parenting.

1. Say something nice before and after anything critical. "That was a tasty dinner. Maybe we could try fresh cilantro next time? Oh, and thanks for making it, I didn't have the energy." There's some fancy name for this technique (it came from a course on giving performance reviews), but I always think of it as "the shit sandwich" for reasons that I hope are obvious.

2. Direct the feedback at something other than the person. Rather than "you used too much cilantro", try "the recipe called for too much cilantro." But make sure it's not their own invention or something they've been cooking for generations. :)

3. Phrase things as criticism of yourself. "The last time I used a recipe from there it wasn't that great. I put in more cilantro than it called for and that was better." Of course this requires that you actually do whatever it is yourself sometimes.
Step 2. In order to try not to come off as critical I changed the "I think you should" to "I think we should" in an effort to signify that it doesn't matter who cooks (not criticizing the cook, but the recipe).

Ha, this makes me feel good because these are all things that my SO did when we were discussing an issue. But I couldn't stand any of these tactics. They beg the question. My SO was saying, "Our apartment looks a lot better than it used to but we still have too much stuff. It's because we've both moved so much and we don't have enough closet space here. I have too much stuff too and need to get rid of some." All the steps you suggest. And my reaction was like, like, honey, no, you don't get to decide how much stuff we have. I live here too and I get a say. I'm happy to get rid of some of my stuff and organize some of it better, but we're going to end up in a compromise position where we have less stuff than I'd like and more stuff than you'd like. (I did not say that exactly but expressed that was how I interpreted him so he could correct it if I was wrong.)

I think it's great that people are so into adjusting their communication styles. There's absolutely a big difference between saying, "You're a slob!" vs. "I guess I have higher standards for dish washing. Would you mind taking a closer look to make sure there's no food on them?" But business books and psychology over the last decade or so have given us this idea that how you communicate is always more important than what you communicate. People are not idiots and can see through a lot. Think of Office Space where the boss is like, "If you could come in on Saturday, that'd be greaaat." You know the boss isn't making a suggestion; he's giving an order. And it's even more aggravating because it's dressed up in bullshit than a direct order would have been.

It's just so easy to change how we say things that we think we'll get away with it forever and never have to change our behavior or attitudes. But if my SO really needs the dishes to be cleaner, I can't just be like, "I'm so happy you shared that with me. I agree we can do a lot better and I feel your needs are really important." I also have to clean the dishes better!

Janie

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #67 on: October 29, 2014, 05:57:08 PM »
I'm exhausted skimming over this thread.

Feeling thankful for my DH. 

We talk to each other as partners not f'ing coaches or bosses to subordinates. I don't need permission to call bullshit on DH, nor he with me...

+1

scrubbyfish

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #68 on: October 29, 2014, 06:14:12 PM »
sheepstache, that ROCKED.

...my loss of blood [...] ...the surgeon who is looking at my finger

lhamo, what?? What happened to you and your finger and your blood?? What post did I miss??

Unfortunately DH launched into yet another "you just need to accept the reality,...

I swear I've developed an allergic reaction to the word "just". When I say I'm struggling with something, and anyone responds, "You just...", I feel all crazy inside. When I am struggling -exhausted, impaired by brain dysfunction, stressed, holding my kid in the Emergency department at 3am- there is no "just". Nothing is "just". Everything is hard! Hence the tears or snapping or napping or whatever it is I'm up to! If there was a "just" involved, I wouldn't be coming to pieces, I would have done the "just", obviously!

Yeah, it's very, very hard for some of us to hear what we "just need to" do, rather than receive the compassion, silent listening, presence, reflective listening, or big long hug that would actually help.

fidgiegirl

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #69 on: October 29, 2014, 07:49:34 PM »
Quote
... I'm toying with the idea of getting the surgeon who is looking at my finger to order me into the hospital for gallbladder surgery as a way of getting a few days off ...

Quote
... I'm thinking the time may have come to get myself into counseling ...

Oh hon.  If you are trying to get surgery in order to get time off work, then yes, the time may have come.  Have you done it before?  I never had, but am finding it very valuable, for the reason you said:

Quote
if nothing else then to have a place I can go once a week to get this stuff off my chest without being told I just need to suck it up.

Just being heard is so, so powerful.  My counselor does make SOME suggestions, but not really very many.  Just speaking my truth to someone who holds no judgement has been so freeing.  Sometimes when I just say it out loud I can see how important it is, or sometimes even how silly (not in any way saying you are silly!  You know that!  But I can see that some of my own thought patterns have been.)

Sending you hugs from afar, friend.

(and yeah . . . what happened with the finger?  Going over to your journal.  Maybe missed it there?  - ETA:  Found it!  The mandolin incident!  Ouch!!!  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/my-$100-baked-potato-chips-your-costly-mistakes/msg434110/#msg434110)
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 07:58:51 PM by fidgiegirl »

galliver

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #70 on: October 30, 2014, 01:27:21 AM »
My parents always told me I'm very sensitive to criticism...not even that, but I have that thing where I construe comments that weren't remotely directed at me as critical of something about me. I used to get super upset at hearing this...but sometime around late college/early grad school I started realizing it was true (so frustrating how often parents turn out to be right!). It's not much, but sometimes seeing myself through this lens, knowing this about myself, helps me actually accept and believe it when someone (e.g. bf) tells me their comment was NOT trying to get under my skin or comment on me in any way, but rather just make a specific  (or general world/situation) comment.

I don't have the long-time experience of many in this thread. But my boyfriend and I just moved in 3 months ago and many of the communication situations are things we're working through right now. Some things that were, perhaps stupidly, revelations for us:
-ask for what you need. It's not obvious. I need to walk away with a plan of action or change to prevent us from repeating the experience/conversation. He needs me to mirror back what he said to feel heard and understood (Looking at him and saying "ok." doesn't cut it). We are also both "Mr./Ms. Fixit" and sometimes need to remind the other "hey, I don't need you to *help* me with this situation right now, I need a hug and some sympathy and maybe someone to make a cup of tea."
-we both try to use "I feel" and "I think" phrasing. With the goal of shifting the focus to the perception of [thing] vs the [thing] itself. Sometimes we even preface this with more qualifiers to emphasize this. Like "This may be totally unfair but this is how this thing you are doing makes me feel."
-tone matters. I don't say this in a nitpicky way, but because tone conveys meaning. And not always a bad tone. We got into a pattern where the "I'm getting upset and trying to control my tone of voice" tone was associated, in my mind, with the beginning of a fight. So we did a silly thing where I would ask him every time I heard it if he was mad. He wasn't.
-while figuring out how to arrange/do house stuff, which of course we grew up doing differently, we got much further with asking "why do you want to do it this way, why does this make sense?" rather than "why would anyone ever do it this way, that's ridiculous!" (not quite what was said, the difference was conveyed more by inflection...) Anyway, instead of a criticism of one's methodology, you start a thought process and a logical conversation. We all have things we do a certain way just because we always have. Sometimes, that's worth questioning and considering a better way. But that's easier to do when someone isn't calling you an idiot over it (or you don't feel like they are, anyway, whether or not that was the intention).
-this almost goes without saying, but mutual respect and civility are our goal and aspiration. We both acknowledge it's not ok when we raise our voices or get snippy and dismissive or make comments to get a rise out of the other rather than resolve conflict. Personally I think if a partner behaves this way and makes excuses or shifts blame instead of just apologizing, that's not ok.

That's all I've got for now. Not sure if it's useful to you or things you already knew/tried. Good luck with everything! The work stuff sounds stressful as hell! Here's a humorous video about couples fighting to lighten the mood (I know I related to some of these) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fio7T6mjCbI

Beaker

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #71 on: October 30, 2014, 10:03:16 AM »
I think it's great that people are so into adjusting their communication styles. There's absolutely a big difference between saying, "You're a slob!" vs. "I guess I have higher standards for dish washing. Would you mind taking a closer look to make sure there's no food on them?" But business books and psychology over the last decade or so have given us this idea that how you communicate is always more important than what you communicate. People are not idiots and can see through a lot. Think of Office Space where the boss is like, "If you could come in on Saturday, that'd be greaaat." You know the boss isn't making a suggestion; he's giving an order. And it's even more aggravating because it's dressed up in bullshit than a direct order would have been.

Yeah, you just have to figure out how best to talk to someone. I can say to my brother "These dishes are fucking disgusting. Were you washing them blindfolded?" and that works. I wouldn't try that approach on DW because we keep sharp knives in the house - instead I use something a little softer and more roundabout. The content is really the important part, but the delivery matters too.

norabird

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #72 on: November 05, 2014, 11:32:31 AM »
Chiming in a little late to bring up John Gottman's research. There's a good summary here: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/happily-ever-after/372573/

Criticism is one of his 'four horsemen'. Gottman also has a book, The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work I think, maybe you and DH could read it together? I absolutely despise getting negative feedback from a SO (about how I'm whisking the eggs, about how I'm cleaning the utensils)--being appreciated and supported is a very universal need, and that type of harping (or 'just deal with it' responses to emotional upset) undercuts it. Yes, sometimes we need to make allowances that our partner is not trying to hurt us and is even trying to help as they understand it; but it's not hyper-sensitivity to react badly to never getting support and always receiving negative feedback.

scrubbyfish

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #73 on: November 05, 2014, 01:39:49 PM »
I was thinking about this topic some more yesterday while reading Cheryl Richardson's book The Art of Extreme Self-Care. In it, she tells a story of a time her husband loaded the dishwasher, left the room, and returned to find her reloading it. They squabbled -he declared her understanding incorrect, etc. And she came to agree with him that it was wrong of her to reload it, and that if she truly wants help, she has to accept it in whatever form it comes.

I realized I absolutely disagree with her (an author I otherwise utterly love) on these two counts.
On one level is the idea that, short of safety, etc, we need to let each "load the dishwasher" in whatever way we want. That seems quite reasonable to me.
But there is more in this, and something that those of us who are super prone to flexing, accommodating, being passive, etc, might want to weigh.
 
Why was his idea about loading "right" and her idea about loading "wrong"?
Why must she accept "support" in "whatever form it comes" rather than in a way that feels honouring, helpful, comforting, comfortable?
Is it still "support" if the washer is loaded, yes, but in a way that the dishes come out with food stuck to them? (Some examples in this thread answer this "yes", some answer this "no".)
Was the support she wanted "dishes out of sight", or "dishwasher loaded", or "dishes completely clean"?
Why was the next best step on their shared path her acceptance of however he loads it, rather than his slightly modifying what he was doing to support her comfort level, and to honour her experience that the dishes are cleaner if the soap and water streams can reach the dirty face of each dish?
How is it that in their relationship, she was deemed "controlling" and he not? (To me, it sounded like they each had equal desire toward one way.)

The kind of resistance described in her husband's reaction is, in my mind, a style/form of criticism more concerning that hers was. Do people get away with the style he presented more than they do with the style she presented? It seems so to me, but that may be only my experience.

So, on the flip side of the matter of dealing with criticism, I want to remain conscious not only of not overly criticizing a partner, but also about not allowing a partner to declare my requests or input out of bounds.

Goldielocks

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #74 on: November 05, 2014, 01:51:23 PM »
I was thinking about this topic some more yesterday while reading Cheryl Richardson's book The Art of Extreme Self-Care. In it, she tells a story of a time her husband loaded the dishwasher, left the room, and returned to find her reloading it. They squabbled -he declared her understanding incorrect, etc. And she came to agree with him that it was wrong of her to reload it, and that if she truly wants help, she has to accept it in whatever form it comes.

I realized I absolutely disagree with her (an author I otherwise utterly love) on these two counts.
On one level is the idea that, short of safety, etc, we need to let each "load the dishwasher" in whatever way we want. That seems quite reasonable to me.
But there is more in this, and something that those of us who are super prone to flexing, accommodating, being passive, etc, might want to weigh.
 
Why was his idea about loading "right" and her idea about loading "wrong"?
Why must she accept "support" in "whatever form it comes" rather than in a way that feels honouring, helpful, comforting, comfortable?
Is it still "support" if the washer is loaded, yes, but in a way that the dishes come out with food stuck to them? (Some examples in this thread answer this "yes", some answer this "no".)
Was the support she wanted "dishes out of sight", or "dishwasher loaded", or "dishes completely clean"?
Why was the next best step on their shared path her acceptance of however he loads it, rather than his slightly modifying what he was doing to support her comfort level, and to honour her experience that the dishes are cleaner if the soap and water streams can reach the dirty face of each dish?
How is it that in their relationship, she was deemed "controlling" and he not? (To me, it sounded like they each had equal desire toward one way.)

The kind of resistance described in her husband's reaction is, in my mind, a style/form of criticism more concerning that hers was. Do people get away with the style he presented more than they do with the style she presented? It seems so to me, but that may be only my experience.

So, on the flip side of the matter of dealing with criticism, I want to remain conscious not only of not overly criticizing a partner, but also about not allowing a partner to declare my requests or input out of bounds.

I will take a stab at it --
The "wrong" idea was not how to load the dishwasher, but that she was wrong to secretly undo anything he had taken the time to accomplish, in his own way.   Much better to simply fix any DW errors  (ask him to do it) when the cycle was finished.   ---e.g., My kids have to hand wash anything that did not come out clean, which is another viable to do it.

By completely undoing his efforts, it shows that there was no point in his making the effort in the first place.   This is indeed, pretty controlling, and guarantees hard feeling and less effort in future.   

Likewise, it would be controlling of him to leave her with the problems his technique would cause. 
If she has to rewash everything now baked on, then yep, I would say he is controlling the situation and her to get out of future chores.
  BUT, if he also takes care of any resulting problems, and puts away only clean dishes, (and replaces broken ones) how is that controlling?

UnleashHell

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #75 on: November 05, 2014, 01:59:37 PM »
let him load it, run the dishwasher and then see if the way he did it was ok.

if it was then fine....
by reloadign it completely negates him doing it and asserts her control in a situation

Where it was specifically not asked for.

If the way he loaded if proves to result in badly washed dishes then there is proof that he was doing it incorrectly and its easy to point out why (and he should then clean them by hand)


Then let her load the dishwasher and both parties inspect the results…. She may have “her “ way and it may not be perfect…

scrubbyfish

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #76 on: November 05, 2014, 02:26:48 PM »
(To be clear, I didn't intend to spark conversation about how to resolve a dishwasher dispute, so much as explore "what are all the ways criticism or control can be attempted? is it always obvious and direct? are we served when one quickly agrees to fault? etc.")

The "wrong" idea was not how to load the dishwasher, but that she was wrong to secretly undo anything he had taken the time to accomplish, in his own way.

I bet that was part of his process, yes.  He didn't complain about the "secretly" part, but about her undoing the work he had done, yes.

However, poorly on my part, I didn't specify: The book says he told her she was wrong in her pitch that the dishes don't get as clean when placed willy-nilly, that how it's loaded makes a difference. He said this was "ridiculous".

By completely undoing his efforts, it shows that there was no point in his making the effort in the first place.

See, I wouldn't see it this way. I might (in his place) know that I gave support by clearing the mess from the counters, e.g., Successfully completed phase one of the process. If someone did that for me, I would then feel enough relief and respite that I would then be energized to take on a subsequent step. I saw her as quite responsible for accepting his gift of clearing the counters, then setting out to complete a second step. I was surprised at her husband's anger.

I felt icked out by his immediately "wrong"ing her, his speedy leap to defeatism/opt out ("why bother? it's never right and she'll just do it over anyway") vs conversation, openness, negotiation, etc.

...guarantees hard feeling and less effort in future.

This is what the author was aiming to get across, yes.

But I think this is only true if two people in a situation are both unable to ultimately laugh and open to conversation (vs move quickly to the positions they took and agree that one of them was "wrong").

BUT, if he also takes care of any resulting problems, and puts away only clean dishes, (and replaces broken ones) how is that controlling?

I agree that it wouldn't be.

Him offering to do that wasn't in the conversation (at least according to the story, which is all I'm going on).

Goldielocks

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #77 on: November 05, 2014, 02:34:23 PM »
Good thoughts -- I did not read the book, so made some assumptions.

My husband got out of doing any laundry but his own, by insisting on putting all my clothes, (even after I explained it), into a hot dryer - crepe dress, work blazer, and all.   

Doing a job poorly can indeed be controlling the situation!  Even if not intentional.

For me, I love the feeling of a task completed.  It gives me great satisfaction, so when I see someone "undoing" it, it completely takes away that great feeling, and I am doubly upset.

galliver

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #78 on: November 05, 2014, 02:58:42 PM »
However, poorly on my part, I didn't specify: The book says he told her she was wrong in her pitch that the dishes don't get as clean when placed willy-nilly, that how it's loaded makes a difference. He said this was "ridiculous".

"Ridiculous" is actually (surprisingly?) dismissive and inflammatory language, I have found. Worse than wrong, since it implies that you are an absolute idiot for even thinking your way could possibly be right, were you dropped on your head as a child or something? I'm not surprised the conversation went downhill from there.

I felt icked out by his immediately "wrong"ing her, his speedy leap to defeatism/opt out ("why bother? it's never right and she'll just do it over anyway") vs conversation, openness, negotiation, etc.

I'd point out you don't necessarily know the history. Arguments are rarely about just one thing. i.e. he may have jumped to "why bother" because similar conversations have been had before.

---on another note---

Having read this thread is making me pay more attention to mine and bf's mutual criticism of each other. I've realized we're quite insensitive to food/cooking related criticisms. E.g. a few nights ago he told me "Thanks for dinner, but the broccoli is kinda overdone..." I wasn't offended because I actually knew it was because I got sidetracked doing something else while it was steaming. He understood. On the contrary, I'm pretty sure last night the broccoli was underdone to his taste, but he didn't even say anything because I thought it was perfect and he wasn't going to change my mind ;) I guess in the food arena we just fundamentally accept each other's differences in taste and even make fun of them (this weekend he stuck a noodle in my mouth after 30 sec of cooking and asked if I thought it was done, because I make fun of his preference for "crunchy" pasta and he took it to the extreme, the silly boy :P). Not sure how one would establish this sort of baseline understanding from scratch, though.

scrubbyfish

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #79 on: November 05, 2014, 03:27:43 PM »
I'd point out you don't necessarily know the history.

Totally acknowledged, yes.

This particular matter (Person A does a task, Person B redoes it, Person A decides "there's no point") is quite a common one, I think. I had imagined they'd had similar scenarios before, and that his frustration was coming from a bigger picture, or even just a crabby day. But I was still uncomfortable with where they each went in this interaction, and am taking it as a cautionary tale for myself. The "there's no point" thing is often jumped to too quickly, I feel. A quick and easy "opt out", instead of commitment to new conversation.

...in the food arena we just fundamentally accept each other's differences in taste and even make fun of them (this weekend he stuck a noodle in my mouth after 30 sec of cooking and asked if I thought it was done, because I make fun of his preference for "crunchy" pasta and he took it to the extreme, the silly boy :P).

This is the kind of thing that would totally make me laugh in a situation of differing opinions. Love it!

mrs sideways

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #80 on: November 05, 2014, 04:17:54 PM »
I'm exhausted skimming over this thread.

Feeling thankful for my DH.

+1.

I'd rather make and eat bland food than be in a situation in which, no matter how much effort and love I put into a meal, I'd have to prepare myself for a discussion afterwards on how it could be better.

Spondulix

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #81 on: November 05, 2014, 11:44:14 PM »
Re: dishwasher... my parents are having their 40th anniversary this year. Both have said to me (independently) that there are times where you just have to let your partner do things their way - even if it means watching them struggle or fail. My mom could assemble something a lot faster than my dad, and she knows those kinds of projects are really stressful/frustrating for him, but she sees that he wants to do it for a sense of accomplishment. My dad said he hates to see my mom struggle (and it takes patience if she's doing something slower than he could), but that she needs to do things on her own for a sense of independence.

Malaysia41

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #82 on: November 06, 2014, 04:56:14 AM »
I'm exhausted skimming over this thread.

Feeling thankful for my DH.

+1.

I'd rather make and eat bland food than be in a situation in which, no matter how much effort and love I put into a meal, I'd have to prepare myself for a discussion afterwards on how it could be better.

word.

scrubbyfish

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #83 on: November 06, 2014, 09:55:44 AM »
...have said to me (independently) that there are times where you just have to let your partner do things their way - even if it means watching them struggle or fail. My mom could assemble something a lot faster than my dad, and she knows those kinds of projects are really stressful/frustrating for him, but she sees that he wants to do it for a sense of accomplishment. My dad said he hates to see my mom struggle (and it takes patience if she's doing something slower than he could), but that she needs to do things on her own for a sense of independence.

Yep.

I make sure to have room for my kid, too, to practice, struggle, "fail", reassess, figure stuff out, practice some more. He's a very competent kid now (even with a developmental disability).

Me, there are some things I want a chance to figure out, try, learn, and other things that make me want to throw my computer out the window thus prefer someone else to take care of.

Three things that guide me around this are:
How competent do I want my kid to be when he's 20?
How competent do I want me to be when a partner leaves or dies, or my partner to be when I leave or die?

If after much effort and trying, something is still "beyond me", is there someone I can request help from?

I think the try/struggle/fail/try again process works beautifully to develop competency. On the other hand, while I don't want tips on how the meal I've finished making could have been made better, I do love input on how to tweak my work, financials, most other daily tasks, etc. But I only like those when the input first takes into consideration (as opposed to disregards) any very real challenges I'm dealing with in that area. It's a balance.

RockinLife

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #84 on: November 06, 2014, 05:18:56 PM »
I think, in my case, lots of our tension/problem comes because we dont communicate effectively, but we dont comm. effectively because we are disconnected, stressed, have limited time together, limited space in which to share that time, ongoing physical issues (chronic pain), young children. THe more disconnected I feel, the emptier my own cup feels, the less I feel like accomodating my partner. Its a negative loop, because the less I feel like accomodating him, the less compassion and tenderness I feel for him, the less we communicate, and the less we touch, compliment, praise etc. You get the idea.

So, probably part of repairing and changing the communication dynamic is going to be managing/mitigating the other stresses as well.

Its a tall order. But also allows for more learning about oneself, chance for enlightenment, chance for happiness, chance for children to experience happy homelife and learn important relationship skills, too.

This is EXACTLY the pattern we struggle with -- though in my case replace the chronic pain issue with chronic depression/anxiety.

I was feeling VERY down on Monday and Tuesday.  Maybe some weird chemical thing related to my loss of blood.  Some of it situational (got news at work that my best employee might leave soon).  Wasn't able to work MOnday afternoon -- thought taking some time off might help but it didn't.  CAme home in tears on Tuesday.  Unfortunately DH launched into yet another "you just need to accept the reality, pull up your bootstraps and get on with it" pep talk.  I know he means well, but geez -- a person who is on the verge of mental/physical collapse from a year of working 10-12 hour days and who still has a mountain of work staring her in the face that is not likely to get better any time soon doesn't have the fortitude to pull up her bootstraps!  I want to take the fucking boots OFF and go hang out on a beach somewhere for 3-6 months, for gods sake!  I'm toying with the idea of getting the surgeon who is looking at my finger to order me into the hospital for gallbladder surgery as a way of getting a few days off.  Except I know that will only cause things to pile up ever deeper and higher and lead to more stress immediately after.

I'm thinking the time may have come to get myself into counseling, if nothing else then to have a place I can go once a week to get this stuff off my chest without being told I just need to suck it up.  I love DH and I know he means well.  And he's right to a certain extent -- I do kind of need to just suck it up and get through this last leg of what has been a very exhausting and painful journey.  But sometimes you just need someone to listen to you and not tell you the fifty million things you are doing/thinking wrong.

They are supposed to make an offer to the candidate for the Directorship this week.  Finally.  I don't know why the process of checking references has taken a month.  I hope he will accept.  And that I can get through my performance review next week without having a total breakdown. 

Almost through another week.

So there is a really funny video online called 'It's not about the nail.' 

My husband and I have been guilty of really wanting, out of love and concern, to 'fix' whatever is going wrong in each other's lives.  However, most of the time we are both perfectly capable of 'fixing' whatever it happens to be ourselves and really just want a chance to express what is happening in our lives, vent or whatnot. 

So now, if I come home and say 'Oh you won't believe what so and so did today!  I'm going to have to put in a ton of hours to clean this up.'  ...DH may start into 'well, really you could/should...'  I stop him right there and say 'It's not about the nail!'  We both laugh and he has stopped with the counter productive 'should-ing pep-talks.'

scrubbyfish

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #85 on: November 06, 2014, 05:28:55 PM »
So there is a really funny video online called 'It's not about the nail.' 

Oh, THAT WAS AWESOME, RockinLife!!!!
Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

galliver

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #86 on: November 06, 2014, 07:47:25 PM »
So there is a really funny video online called 'It's not about the nail.' 

Oh, THAT WAS AWESOME, RockinLife!!!!
Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

That's a wonderful video. :D

Rural

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Re: Dealing with criticism from a loved one -- constructive strategies?
« Reply #87 on: November 07, 2014, 06:10:18 AM »
I was thinking about this topic some more yesterday while reading Cheryl Richardson's book The Art of Extreme Self-Care. In it, she tells a story of a time her husband loaded the dishwasher, left the room, and returned to find her reloading it. They squabbled -he declared her understanding incorrect, etc. And she came to agree with him that it was wrong of her to reload it, and that if she truly wants help, she has to accept it in whatever form it comes.

I realized I absolutely disagree with her (an author I otherwise utterly love) on these two counts.
On one level is the idea that, short of safety, etc, we need to let each "load the dishwasher" in whatever way we want. That seems quite reasonable to me.
But there is more in this, and something that those of us who are super prone to flexing, accommodating, being passive, etc, might want to weigh.
 
Why was his idea about loading "right" and her idea about loading "wrong"?
Why must she accept "support" in "whatever form it comes" rather than in a way that feels honouring, helpful, comforting, comfortable?
Is it still "support" if the washer is loaded, yes, but in a way that the dishes come out with food stuck to them? (Some examples in this thread answer this "yes", some answer this "no".)
Was the support she wanted "dishes out of sight", or "dishwasher loaded", or "dishes completely clean"?
Why was the next best step on their shared path her acceptance of however he loads it, rather than his slightly modifying what he was doing to support her comfort level, and to honour her experience that the dishes are cleaner if the soap and water streams can reach the dirty face of each dish?
How is it that in their relationship, she was deemed "controlling" and he not? (To me, it sounded like they each had equal desire toward one way.)

The kind of resistance described in her husband's reaction is, in my mind, a style/form of criticism more concerning that hers was. Do people get away with the style he presented more than they do with the style she presented? It seems so to me, but that may be only my experience.

So, on the flip side of the matter of dealing with criticism, I want to remain conscious not only of not overly criticizing a partner, but also about not allowing a partner to declare my requests or input out of bounds.


More fundamentally, why was his loading the dishwasher, presumably in part with dishes he'd dirtied, in some way supporting her? It was performing one of his basic human functions, perhaps well, perhaps poorly.