Some partner deliberately uses harsh criticism when they are voicing complaints in a destructive pattern. For example, John and his daughter went clothes shopping while his wife, Emily, went to the bookstore. They agreed to meet In-front of the movie theater after an hour. John was prompt and there was no sign of Emily.
When Emily showed up after 15 minutes, happy about running into a friend and apologizing for being late. John lashed out with sarcasm, It’s okay- it gave us (with his daughter) time to discuss your ability to screw up every single plan we make. You are so careless and self-centered.
You see here John’s complaint is more than that- it is harsh criticism and character assassination of Emily.
Kristin: Did you pick up my dry cleaning?
John: (in a mocking tone) Did you pick up my dry cleaning. What am I you servant?
Kristin: Hardly, if you were a servant at least you’d know how to clean.
That right there is criticism and mocking, couples do that from time to time. But because of this way of complaining about things, mostly husbands and wife thinks their complaints go unheard and ignored. Perhaps, it is the silent sign when a couple is likely to be divorced in few years.
Difference between complaints and personal criticism
In a complaint, partner states what is upsetting him and criticizing his wife’s action. Emily should say like, ”when you didn’t pick up my clothes from cleaners it made me feel like you don’t care about me.”
But in personal criticism John launch a global attack on his wife saying “you’re always uncaring and selfish.” This kind of criticism lets another partner believe she is unliked, as criticism comes with contempt, and contempt comes with anger.
Habitual criticism or contempt are dangerous signs of a broken relationship because they silently show husband and wife made a silent judgment about their partner. As a result, the partner gets hijacked emotionally, he/she gets angry and distressed by things their spouses do.