Article by Marie-Claire Smith
Do you love your spouse deeply but feel that they are overly critical of you? Does your spouse sometimes speak to you in a way the feels condescending or mean? Given that you are married to this person, the solution to your unhappy predicament is never going to be a simple one. And, if you still love them, of course divorce or separation does not feel like the right answer, either. What to do, then, if you have a critical spouse and need help? One excellent option: relationship counselling.
Relationship counselling is a last resort for couples who otherwise face divorce or a lifetime of constant unhappiness. But, it can also be a first resort for fairly new marriages when small problems arise that could turn into big problems. The idea of going to counselling does not always sit well with most people, and people often want to avoid it altogether. However, counselling is not something that you or your spouse should be afraid to try. Even minor problems can be fixed by a few good counselling sessions. And, catching a small problem or two now with counselling can help you avoid much bigger problems down the road.
Today, people are more willing than ever to at least give counselling a try. Ten, twenty or more years ago, the idea of counselling sounded very heavy and serious – as if it was truly the last resort for very unhappy couples. Nowadays, people in general feel a lot more open to giving it a try. There seems to be less of a stigma attached to counselling than there was a decade or more ago.
If you feel like you and your spouse need relationship counselling, be that you bring up the subject to your partner in a non-threatening, non-judging way. In other words: you want to avoid bringing it up in a way that sounds like your spouse is the one who needs fixing; doing that will surely bring immediate resistance on their part. Rather, bring it up in a way that indicates you are needing to work on some issues with yourself and that you need your spouse's support.
If you ask your partner to go to counselling because you have some issues you need to work out, he or she is more likely to agree to go with you. Explain that you think you need some help to be able to be an even better spouse to them. Remember; at this stage keep the focus on yourself, not them: once you're in counselling, your spouse will learn of some of the issues you are facing, along with tips and techniques to help you both feel better about the relationship and each other.
And, it is never too early or late to try counselling to solve your problems. Remember, you can go to counselling to help keep small problems from becoming big ones. If the relationship is relatively new, counselling can be smart way to nip small issues in the bud before they become much larger ones.
If, after you suggest counselling, your partner outright refuses: go on your own anyway. While of course the counselling would work best if both of you go together, you stand to make a lot of progress on the issue of dealing with your critical spouse. And, after a few sessions of your going on your own, your spouse may warm up to the idea and want to give it a try.