Complaining, nagging, moaning – some of us are very good at it and seem to spend most of our communication sharing our frustrations, dislikes, and opinions on things we’re unhappy with. For those people, it has become a habit or a learned pattern of behavior to have a heightened ability to give focused attention to all that is wrong, not working, and lacking.
In marriage, the choice to use complaining as your go-to tool for expressing how you feel or attempting to cause change could be doing more damage to your relationship than you are aware of. Like a silent killer, continual complaining can have traumatic results on your spouse as an individual and on your relationship.
It may be that this complaining behavior has reached a point that the chronic complainer doesn’t know just how much the bulk of their communication is a complaint, a nag, a moan, and a groan. This means that without awareness, they are pouring a fluent stream of negativity into their marriage. Remember at this point that what we give out is what we get in return. So negative communication generates negative feelings that drive negative behaviours and rewards with negative results.
Research has shown that although complaining could give the complainer a quick feel-good shot as they release some stress and frustration, this is very short-lived. Author of the book ‘The No Complaining Rule’ Jon Gordon explained that complainers and people who are continually around complainers become more and more unhappy. This unhappiness could then lead to physical illness. Yup…it’s that serious.
Here’s the Impact Nagging & Complaining Has on Your Relationship
- It focuses the complainer’s attention on all that is wrong in the marriage. Whatever we focus on becomes bigger and more apparent to us. So if we focus on the negative we will continue to see more and more negative.
- It strengthens an ungrateful attitude. Because you’re so focused on all that’s not working in your marriage it’s not likely that you will be grateful for all the good that you have. When you stop being grateful you will start to undervalue your relationship, not prioritise it and begin to resent it.
- It creates a negative atmosphere. People who are continually nagging are often oblivious to the impact it is having on the atmosphere of their marriage. Tension and uneasiness will thrive in such an environment – sucking the life out of your relationship.
- It causes the person on the receiving end of the complaints to become defensive, particularly if the complaining is frequent and continual. Walls are built up and the person begins to retreat emotionally from the relationship.
- It feels bad for BOTH parties! The complainer feels more frustrated the more they complain and the complainer feels frustrated with the continual complaints being thrown at them,
Praise, on the other hand, has the opposite impact on a person’s life and marriage. Sincere praise is a powerful, restorative, and encouraging tool that should be a common and frequently used tool in any relationship. When we hear something we like, the hormone dopamine is released in our brains. This is the chemical associated with feelings of joy, pride, satisfaction, and well-being. When you praise someone, particularly when that praise is sincere, it leads to a physiological desire to recreate that feeling. In other words, the recipient of the praise will desire to recreate that feeling over and over again which results in positive change, improvement, and a willingness to perform in the marriage in a way that pleases the praise giver.
Everyone likes to be praised. It makes us feel seen, valued, appreciated, and acknowledged. It helps to improve or reinforces confidence and encourages strong self-esteem. All sounding very positive right? That’s because it is! And just like I mentioned before, you get what you put out. So the praise will generate a positive feeling that drives positive behaviours and rewards with positive results. You’re more likely to get the relationship you want with praise than with complaining.
Here’s the Impact Praise Has on Your Relationship
- It focuses the praise giver’s attention on all that is good and draws their attention away from negativity
- It fosters a grateful attitude. Gratitude is powerful for attracting more good into your life.
- It creates a positive atmosphere for your relationship to thrive within
- It creates a sense of openness and freedom in your relationship which increases vulnerability and therefore improves intimacy levels.
- It encourages positive change and improvement because the person being praised desires more and therefore seeks to become better.
- It feels good for both the praise giver and the person being praised.
Good News for The Chronic Complainer
The good news is that this isn’t just “how you are”. It’s learned behaviour that has now become a habit or default reaction to things that you make not like. However, in the same way, you taught yourself to be a complainer, you can teach yourself to be a praise giver and begin to reap the benefits for yourself personally as well as within your relationship.
How to Become a Praise Giver
- Make a decision today that you will become a praise giver. Everything starts with a definite decision.
- Every morning write 10 things that you are grateful for about your life, your spouse, and your marriage.
- When you see something that you would normally complain about actively look for a positive perspective on the situation. The universal law of polarity tells us that there is positive and negative in everything – dependent on how you choose to look at it.
- Determine within yourself to give your spouse praise at least once every day.
- Just like anything that you learn new, some days will be better than others. You may find that you have a couple of days when praise is flowing from your spirit! Then you’ll hit a bump in the road and will retreat to former complaining habits. That’s ok…pick yourself up, dust off your lips, and keep going.
Struggling with things to say? Check out my blog: 5 Things to Say to Your Husband Everyday
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