I don’t take criticism very well from anyone and I’m very well aware of this fact. However, this seems to be especially true when criticism comes from the man I’m with. If you’re anything like me, when dealing with criticism from your man your temper has a tendency to jump to DEFCON-1 much faster than normal.
In truth, criticism is supposed to help us improve ourselves. Another person’s opinion might be exactly what we need in order to get better at presentations, writing, baking, painting, or whatever the case may be. Since we’re together a lot, especially these days, it’s usually quick and easy to ask my husband for feedback. After all, he knows me better than anyone and that usually makes him one of the best sources for advice. When I want constructive criticism on my writing in order to take it from “decent” to “kick ass,” he’s the first person I turn to.
And that’s great, except criticism from my husband makes me cringe every time.
Even though I asked for his opinion, I can kind of sort of lose my mind when I get it. This is counterproductive for me, makes him frustrated, and strains our relationship a bit (at least until my DEFCON level goes down). Getting criticism from your man may be some of the best constructive advice you can get, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to take it.
Learning how to gracefully take criticism from your man can help teach you how to take it from anyone. With that in mind, here are a few tips for taking criticism from your “other half.”
He’s Not an “Expert”- Respect His Opinion Anyway
It can be easy to dismiss criticism when it doesn’t come from a credible expert. However, even if your man isn’t an expert on the particular subject at hand, his opinion still has value.
When I ask my husband to edit my writing, it’s seriously hard sometimes to take his guidance seriously simply because I don’t see him as an actual “expert.” I mean, he doesn’t work for a print publisher and I don’t see HIS name on blogs all over the place, so what does his laymen’s opinion mean?
Actually, quite a lot really.
Sure, he hasn’t memorized the AP Style Guide or worked on countless blogs, but his “outside” view makes it easy for him to see goofs that I easily overlook.
When it comes to your man, he may not be the best person to seek criticism from but you shouldn’t dismiss his advice or envision his head exploding without at least taking his criticism into consideration.
He IS Trying to Help You
When your man doles out criticism, it can be tough to remember that his advice is supposed to help you, not make you feel like shit.
However, more often than not, when my husband tries to offer tips to help me improve, it can feel like he thinks I’m not as good as him. I always try to treat him as an equal and I expect the same in return, so those little critiques seem to hurt more.
What we have to remember though, is that we are still equals. It’s just that the criticism from our man makes it difficult to see at the time. Before you even ask him to give on something, you should remind yourself that he is giving his honest opinion in order to help you improve, not to kick you while you’re down.
Prepare Your Heart
Okay ladies, we have to admit that our hearts can be sort of, well, irrational. It pretty much demands that your man has to tell you that you’re great… even when you really, really suck.
When I have a shitty day, something upsets me, or I’m down on myself, I’m used to being able to lean on my husband. So those times where he’s sharing his true opinion and giving criticism, his words feel like a betrayal of our love and my heart feels betrayed.
Unconditional love is one thing, whereas unconditional support is quite another. Where my irrational heart demands unwavering loyalty, my rational brain knows that when he sees something that he knows I could do better on, he wants to tell me in order to help me, not take me down.
Try to understand that his criticism doesn’t have a bearing on your relationship. In order to help your heart understand this, try to imagine that the critique isn’t for you, but for someone else that you’ll pass the information on to.
I know, it sounds kind of silly, but I assure you that it can make things easier on your irrational heart.
Turn Off Fight Mode
Generally speaking, relationships are a safe place emotionally and that makes it feel like it’s a safe place for ideas as well. So that can lead you to not being prepared to defend your ideas or yourself, which means that criticism can make you completely skip the rational consideration phase and go straight to fight mode.
Hearing criticism from your man shouldn’t make you want to retaliate and shove something nasty in their face. Remember, even though you have a helluva strong urge to strike back, he’s trying to help you. Don’t respond to his criticism by firing back with something like “Oh yeah? Well you NEVER wash the laundry!”
This doesn’t help you improve, it just makes you look crazy.
The urge to fight back has nothing to do with the actual criticism itself and everything to do with you feeling threatened. In order to quell your fight-reflex, focus on listening.
Remind yourself to keep your mouth shut and to listen. Instead of giving in to that urge to strike back, stifling it gives you the opportunity to actually process what he said in a rational way.
No Matter What, Criticism Kind of Sucks
Seriously, no one likes to hear that they have room for improvement, even when it’s helpful. Try to consider the position your man is in when you’re upset with his criticism.
Do you really just want him to tell you what you want to hear? Are you expecting some magical correct answer that doesn’t exist? Have you set him up to be a punching bag?
Remember, his feelings count too! If you can keep that in mind when you’re taking criticism from him, you’ll stay happy.
I’m actually going to send him this article and ask for criticism. Sure, it might be a bit awkward, but it’ll give me a chance to practice what I preached… er, wrote. After all, practice makes perfect. Right?