Monday, June 14, 2010
The other night I was feeding my toddler on the kitchen floor and I commented to my partner that I couldn't believe how much crap there was on the floor. I didn't even think before I said it -- I was at eye level and just couldn't get over how many crumbs there were everywhere. My husband is the sweeper in the family, I usually just brush the crumbs off the bottoms of my feet or wear my slippers, it doesn't get to me. My comment about the floors, innocuous as I thought it was, really pissed him off. It put him in a terrible mood, he snapped back at me -- it basically ruined the rest of the evening. It was not meant to be a criticism, but looking back on it now, I can definitely see how he took it this way. Why say anything? A good friend of mine just puts his head down and does his work. These kinds of stupid remarks add no value. Mind in gear before mouth in motion.
On the flip side however, I think we both need to learn how to accept criticism better. It's unrealistic to think that we won't criticize each other -- we spend a great deal of time together and know each others strengths and weaknesses very well. When I criticize my partner it's not because I don't love him. Maybe I'm tired and frustrated, maybe it's a bad habit or maybe I'm justified in my comments.
The book "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff in Love" advises to just make allowances for criticism -- like the rain. You know that the rain will come at some point. You wouldn't get mad at the rain, so you just accept it and put up your umbrella.
The other thing about criticism is that it feeds on defensiveness. When my partner reacts, I felt like my criticism has been justified and I feel the urge to dish out more. Let it go. It not only eases the pain, but it diffuses further criticism.
Man, all this self-help stuff ... easy to talk about, not so easy to live. I'll have to write about something lighter soon. In the meantime, I'm sure the next criticism is around the corner ... let's see how I take it! (I'll even post it in the comments).