How to complain without hurting your partner


This is a simple & effective way  to bring up difficult issues:

1) Choose your time carefully- ideally when you are both relaxed & getting on

2) Most of what we communicate is not through our words but through our tone & body language- so make sure that you are in the right frame of mind  by reminding yourself before you start of all the things you like about your partner-& the things that they do right!

3) Start with”I” + emotion, for instance, ” I am upset”, “I am hurt” , ” I am scared”.

4) Now name your complaint & make it SPECIFIC, for instance, ” that the kitchen was a mess this morning”, ”  ” when I look at our bank balance”.

5) Ask for what you need ( optional) for instance, ” we need to find better ways of managing our money”.

Research shows that the beginning of a conversation predicts how it will end. In the best relationships people are gentle with each other. Start in the way you mean to go on.

Some people, however gently you start a difficult discussion, have had so many bad experiences of feeling attacked & criticized in the past that they will feel attacked and get defensive no matter how you begin. In this case, the best thing to do is to clearly state that you don’t mean to attack or criticise them but  rather want  to let them know how this specific thing has made you feel  &  what they can do to help.

it is important to emember to stick to just the one thing. if you bring up more than one issue at once it will feel to your partner like you are criticisng them. What you are aiming to do is to keep it limited to one thing-to complain not to criticise.

I hope this helps- it may feel unnatural at first but like many things it gets easier with practise!

If you have found this article helpful, there are books on my resources page that you may also like. There is also a video on this topic here: