Relationship Minute: Do You Keep Track of Your Partner’s Flaws?

“Forgot to take the trash again, I see.”

“They never ask how my day was.”

“This is the third time they overdrew our bank account this year.”

If you often mutter these phrases (or something similar) to yourself about your partner, you may think you’re avoiding conflict by keeping it to yourself. On the contrary, you unconsciously keep a running log of your partner’s mistakes and flaws, which can lead to a critical mindset. From there, it’s easy to slip into criticisms, such as, “You’re so inconsiderate” or “How can you be so irresponsible. You’re like a child.” Comments like these are hurtful and put your partner on the defensive.

Instead of building a silent case against your partner, communicate with them about what you want them to do. Change the negative critical thought into a positive need. So, “You forget to take out the trash all the time” turns into “I could really use your help taking the trash out.” Your need goes from negative to positive, and you will likely get a much better response.

Are you keeping track of your partner’s flaws? What can you do to change your negative need into a positive one?

Related blog posts

The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.