Criticizing VS Complaining

I got this from my favourite website. Inspiring.. I, myself, need to practice to be a better partner :

complaining without criticizing. It’s perfectly normal for couples to have legitimate complaints from time to time, but the way in which these complaints are expressed is critical to the success or failure of a relationship. According to Gottman, partners who are able to express their needs without criticizing each other’s character or personality are more likely to have happier and healthier relationships.

So what’s the difference between a complaint and a criticism?

1) Complaints focus on the present whereas criticisms wallow in the past.

2) Complaints focus on your partner’s actions and how those actions make you feel whereas criticisms attack your partner’s personality or character.

3) Complaints are specific, case-specific, and use “I feel” or “I think” often whereas criticisms are vague, use “always” or “never” a lot, and often require your partner to guess what you’re thinking or feeling.


Criticism: You’re the most selfish, self-centered person I’ve ever met. You stood me up for lunch so you could help John close his deal? You’re always bailing him out. Don’t you think you work enough? You love John and your job more than you love me!

Complaint: We had this lunch planned for weeks, and I’m upset that you canceled it at the last minute to help John handle something that I think he should have been able to handle on his own. It makes me feel like you care more about John and your job than you care about me.

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