Is Chronic Complaining Wrecking Your Relationship?
We all have bad days, and we often lean on the person we love most for support during tough times. But if your long-term partner (or you) complains too regularly, it can kill the intimacy and threaten the stability of your relationship.
“A chronic complainer can cause his/her partner to lose compassion and shut down overtime,” explains Neil Rosenthal, relationship expert and author of Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Keeping The Flame Alive. “Communicating that you’re unhappy about something too much and too regularly, even in unfair circumstances, will make your spouse feel powerless, straining your connection as a couple.”
If your partner’s chronic complaining is causing you to withdraw, Rosenthal says, help your relationship by expressing sympathy about the situation while also setting boundaries for how much complaining is reasonable for you.
Rosenthal also drives home the importance of adapting a “student-and-teacher” mentality with your spouse—instead of assuming you know exactly what the other person thinks and feels because you’ve been together for so long, check in and communicate; ask questions, be patient, and be willing to learn and come up with solutions together.
But what if you’re the chronic complainer? Start seeking alternative venting “targets” so your spouse doesn’t feel attacked or alienated. Try talking with friends or even a tape recorder. Shift the focus by telling your partner how grateful you are for him and for the big and small things he does for the family.
Rosenthal also suggests finding ways to re-spark romance; adults quit “wooing” when they’ve been together a long time, so go out of your way to show affection and surprise each other, which will help create intrigue and keep the flame alive.
When it comes to getting re-married later on in life, should you be cautious if your prospective spouse is a chronic complainer? Rosenthal says that while you both may be more set in your ways, it’s never too late to change. As with all relationships, showing empathy, doing fun things and having honest conversations about what can and can’t be tolerated, are keys to long-term success.