How control and criticism lead to disappointment and disconnection.
Relationships are amazing, but sometimes bringing two (or more) different humans together can be hard. You and your partner may be alike in many ways, but you’re bound to be different in many as well. Because we aren’t taught how to navigate differences in our relationships, we tend to do it badly. However, as adults we can learn to navigate differences in a healthy way, fostering more safety and connection in our relationships.
You may find that you judge the way your partner does things. Maybe you think they should do things your way, the better way, or the “right” way. This judgment doesn’t feel good to think, or to receive. Judgments like these lead to criticism, which doesn’t feel good and fosters disconnection. Expecting your partner to do things your way is an attempt to control them, and it usually leads to the controlling partner feeling uncared for and the receiver of criticism feeling not good enough.
When you expect your partner to do things your way, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. They aren’t you, and they’re used to doing things their way. They may want to do things your way to please you, but it’s not going to be very easy.
They are likely to forget or to do it their way because that’s what they know. It isn’t because they don’t care about you or your needs, it’s because you’re asking them to do things your way. Even if you think your way is the right way, it’s not right for everyone, and your partner’s way is right for them. Trying to get them to do it differently is a lot of effort and usually little return.
In addition, when you expect your partner to do things your way, and you criticize them when they don’t, you’re putting them down. The more you judge them and put them down, the less likely they are to try to do things because they will start to believe your judgment. If you speak to your partner as though they are incapable, you can’t then expect them to feel capable.
When you criticize, you’re not sharing how you feel or what you need. Your partner is hearing that they did something wrong and that you’re angry. However, you can begin to communicate in a more effective way, which will lead to more conversation, understanding, connection AND more of your needs will likely be met.
The following tips will help you lessen your attempts to control, and communicate your needs more effectively: