When the dishes pile up in the sink and your husband doesn't seem to notice, it's really irritating.
When the kids completely bypass dad sitting in his chair and walk all the way to the other end of the house whining for a snack, while you're in the bathroom, it's like, "Seriously? Why do I never get to pee in peace!"
That mom-frustration can feel super sucky. But the good news is, it doesn't have to disturb the peace in your marriage.
When you want more and need more from your man, the so-called marriage "experts" suggest that it's a good idea to complain. Otherwise, how will anyone know what you need?
For example, Dr. John Gottman suggests making a complaint, but without criticizing your partner. Criticism, he says, attacks the person, but a complaint just shares what's wrong with the action.
For example, "you haven't done the dishes yet?" (Complaint) versus, "Don't you see how lazy and self-absorbed you are?" (Criticism)
Gottman claims that complaints are fine but don't criticize because criticism will hurt your relationship. Dr. Gregory Popcak also follows Gottman on this point. Complaints, yes; criticism, no.
But here's the problem that all wives immediately realize.
Complaining isn't effective! Instead of jumping up at the opportunity to delight you, your man becomes defensive. He starts telling you all the things he's already been contributing, or maybe he complains about you.
Next thing you know, you're arguing. And that's just frustrating for everyone, because it's like, can a gal just get a little more help?
The Truth About Complaints
The problem with complaining is that it always contains a note of attack and disappointment in your man. Let's take a minute and dissect the anatomy of a complaint. A complaint is always composed of two things:
Your Desire + Your Disappointment in His Action (or Inaction).
For example, "You haven't done the dishes yet?" = ("I would like help with the dishes" + "I'm disappointed you're not helping").
The problem with complaining is that it announces to your man why you are already disappointed in him. Why, in some respect, he has already failed you.
The problem with this "communication style" is that it doesn't speak to a man's heart. A man yearns to be ADMIRED by the woman he adores. So leading with a comment on why you're already disappointed in him does very little to inspire his attractive masculine response.
Disappointment is always de-motivating for a man. All he hears is, "Here's why you are failing me" so complaining makes it less likely that he will respond to your desire.
Secretly he thinks, "No matter what, I can just never please her" and that hurts his heart. He might even be slow to respond.
Meanwhile, his slowness to respond to you is aggravating. It makes you feel like he doesn't care about your heart or your desires. It makes you even more frustrated, which might drive you to complain even more.
Then he says, "Why are you always nagging?" Then you say, "I wouldn't have to nag if you would just help me the first time."
Transform Your Disappointment into Your Desire
Seriously, this tiny change completely transformed my life. I used to think that complaining was a good way to express your needs. I mean, that's what the experts say! But their advice never gave me the sweet connection I was yearning for so I decided to ditch it.
It's so EASY to transform your disappointment into your desire. Just drop the disappointment and just state your desire.For example:
"You don't help enough with the dishes" becomes, "I'd like a clean kitchen."
"Why am I the only one who attends to the children! You're a parent too!" becomes, "I'm feeling overwhelmed and I'd like some help with the kids."
See how easy that is? I'm saying my desire, not my disappointment. I'm not commenting at all on what he's doing or not doing. I'm just simply stating what I want or would like to have.
Because that's how your bridegroom can actually hear the desire of his bride.
As a Woman You Yearn to Receive
John Paul II argues that "a woman's dignity is closely connected with the love which she receives by the very reason of her femininity."
Ever notice that your primary complaint against your man is that he doesn't really give you enough of what you'd like? You wish you could RECEIVE even more from him?
Do you think it's a strange coincidence that ALL wives in hurting marriages feel that way?
Mainstream marriage "experts" believe that sexual difference is merely "biological" or the result of "culture," two errors JP II spent a lifetime rejecting.
Instead, JP II is deeply attuned to the fact that as a woman, you were built to receive. The design of your body reflects the desire of your heart. Amazing, huh. ;)
Complaining is Draining!
Complaining is frustrating for you because it continues to be ineffective at meeting your core desire to feel adored, and it's frustrating for your husband because it's contrary to his core desire for admiration.
Complaining inherently frustrates the natural complementarity between man and woman. So if it's so ineffective and hurtful for both man and woman, why do the so-called experts keep recommending it? Now that's a real mystery! Complaining will always cause fights because it buries both the one thing that's feminine (your desire to receive his love) and the best of what's masculine (his desire to be admired by giving you love.)
My desire is not to have any fights at all. I don't even want to argue either. And it's entirely possible when I just stay within my own heart and share my desire instead of complaining about his behavior which announces disappointment, and demotivates your man from pursuing your heart.
I mean, back when I was dating, I never said, "How come you haven't given me flowers yet?" "You're just on your phone all the time" which are complaints and do very little to inspire a man.
I always shared my DESIRE not my disappointment. "I love Gerber daisies" or "I'd like to go out for coffee."
And I bet you did too.
Now let me ask you this. Which way is not only more beautiful but also better at "communicating" what you really want? It's SO EASY to go back to what you intuitively did before and you'll likely have way less drama and get a much better result.
I mean, look. I get it. When you haven't had a good night sleep in years, (I had five kids in seven years so trust me. I get it!) it's easy to feel frustrated and it's tempting to complain.
But try taking the focus off of what, in your opinion, your man is doing wrong or failing to do, and put the focus back on your own heart and your desires.
Let's see what happens in your relationship. I bet it will be great.