How to Respond to Spouse Criticism

How to Respond to Spouse Criticism

When your spouse criticizes you, it can be difficult to know how to respond.

You may feel defensive, hurt, or even angry.

If you think the criticism is unfair, it can be tempting to lash out or give up altogether.

But there are ways to respond that can help diffuses the tension and improve your relationship.

Here are some tips on how to respond to spouse criticism. 

Marriages & Couples Therapists in Colorado

Margot Bean, LCSW

Margot Bean, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Randal Thomas, SWC

Randal Thomas, SWC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Melanie Klinke, MA, MFTC, LPCC

Melanie Klinke, MA, MFTC, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Abigail Corless, LPCC

Abigail Corless, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Olivia Woodring, LPCC, NCC

Olivia Woodring, LPCC, NCC

(719) 345-2424
Jennifer Luttman, LPC, ACS

Jennifer Luttman, LPC, ACS

(719) 345-2424
Heather Comensky, LPC

Heather Comensky, LPC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Seth Boughton, SWC

Seth Boughton, SWC

(720) 449-4121
Melvin Lee, LPCC

Melvin Lee, LPCC

(719) 345-2424

Responding to Spouse Criticism Can be Difficult, but It's Important to do So in a Constructive Way

It's no secret that disagreements and conflict are a part of every marriage.

It's important to remember that how you respond to your spouse's criticism can be just as important as the criticism itself.

If you respond in a way that is defensive or attacking, it will only make the situation worse.

Instead, try to respond in a way that is calm and constructive.

It may not be easy, but it is important to remember that you are on the same team.

By responding in a way that is respectful and understanding, you can help to defuse the situation and find a resolution that works for both of you. 

Don't Take the Criticism Personally

Remember that it's not about you, it's about the issue they're criticizing.

Everyone has different ways of communicating, and sometimes that can lead to miscommunication.

It's important to remember that when your spouse is communicating their dissatisfaction with something, it's not necessarily a personal attack.

They may just be expressing themselves in a way that doesn't come across as constructive criticism.

Try to take a step back and listen to what they're saying without getting defensive.

You can also learn about different communication exercises for couples that can help enhance the relationship.

If you can understand where they're coming from, it will be easier to find a solution that works for both of you.

There's no need to take the criticism personally, just try to see it as an opportunity to improve your relationship.

If You Think the Criticism is Unfair, Try to Understand Where your Spouse is Coming From

One area where conflicts often arise is in how each spouse responds to criticism.

Criticism can be difficult to take, especially if you feel that it's unfair.

It's important to try to understand where your spouse is coming from.

Oftentimes, criticism is a way of communicating that something isn't working.

It's a way of saying, "I need you to change this" or "I need you to do this differently."

While it may not be easy to hear, it's important to try to see things from your spouse's perspective.

Only then can you work together to find a resolution that works for both of you.

If you think they are being unfair, you can communicate this idea by saying something like, "I understand that you're unhappy with _____, but I don't think it's fair to criticize me for _____."

Acknowledge the Criticism

If you can acknowledge their criticism, even if you don't agree with it, it will go a long way towards maintaining a healthy relationship.

If you can have an open and honest discussion about the criticism, you may even find that you can agree.

Just because you acknowledge it doesn't mean you have to agree with it.

You can simply say something like, "I hear what you're saying, and I understand why you feel that way."

This will help to show your spouse that you are open to hearing their side of the story.

However, if you find that the criticism is unfounded or unfair, it is okay to stand your ground. 

The most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open so that you can work together to resolve any issues.

Thank Your Spouse for Bringing the Issue to Your Attention

When your spouse criticizes you, thank them for bringing the issue to your attention.

This shows that you are willing to listen to their perspective and consider their feelings.

It also demonstrates that you value their input and appreciate their willingness to communicate with you.

In short, by responding to criticism in a positive way, you can help to break the cycle of conflict and build a stronger foundation for your relationship.

Try to Find a Compromise or Solution That Will Work for Both of You

One approach is to try to find a compromise or solution that will address the issue at hand.

For example, if your spouse is critical of the way you parent, maybe you can agree to try a different parenting style for a week and see how it goes.

Or, if your spouse is critical of the way you keep the house, maybe you can agree to do all the housework for a week while they take on additional childcare duties.

Things you can say to help find a compromise are:

  • "I'm willing to try _____ if you're willing to _____."
  • "I'm open to hearing your suggestions on how we can _____."
  • "Let's brainstorm some possible solutions and see if we can find one that works for both of us."

By finding a compromise or solution that will work for both of you, you can help to reduce the conflict and build a stronger relationship.

Keep Communication Open and Honest

This is the best way to improve your relationship overall.

If you can keep communication open and honest, it will go a long way towards reducing conflict and strengthening your relationship.

Make sure to listen to your spouse's concerns and respond in a way that shows you understand their perspective.

Avoid getting defensive and try to see things from their point of view. 

If you can do this, you'll be on your way to a stronger, healthier relationship.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

If you find that you are unable to resolve your differences on your own, it may be time to seek professional help from Overcomers Counseling.

A therapist can help you to communicate more effectively and work through the issues that are causing conflict in your relationship.

If you decide to seek professional help, make sure to choose a therapist that you feel comfortable with and one that has experience helping couples resolve conflict.

By working with a therapist, you can learn the skills you need to build a stronger, healthier relationship.

Signs of Healthy Criticism in a Relationship

Sign Example/Explanation
Respectful Tone Your partner criticizes in a respectful manner, focusing on behavior rather than character.
Constructive Feedback Feedback is given with the intention to help and improve, not to belittle or make you feel wrong.
Specific and Clear The criticism is specific and clear, making it easier to understand and handle.
Supportive You feel supported and respected, even when discussing difficult topics.
Balanced There is a balance between positive feedback and criticism.
Timely Criticism is given at an appropriate moment, not in the heat of the moment.
Intent to Improve The intent behind the criticism is to improve the relationship and help each other grow.

Signs of Unhealthy Criticism in a Relationship

Sign Example/Explanation
Constant Criticism Your partner criticizes constantly, making you feel like you can never do anything right.
Personal Attacks The criticism feels like a personal attack rather than feedback on behavior.
Generalized Statements Criticism is vague and generalized, making it hard to address specific issues.
Dismissive of Feelings Your partner dismisses your feelings and opinions during criticism.
Nit-Picking They nit-pick small, unimportant details instead of focusing on meaningful issues.
Public Criticism Criticism is given in front of others, including family members, causing embarrassment.
Lack of Solutions No solutions are offered, only more criticism without helpful suggestions.


This blog post should only be used for informational purposes. Readers should not substitute the content of this blog for official medical advice from a licensed professional.


If you find yourself in a situation where your spouse is constantly critiquing you, remember to keep the lines of communication open.

Try to see things from their perspective and look for a compromise or solution that will work for both of you.

Hopefully, this will put you on a path to a better relationship.

If you need additional help, don't hesitate to seek professional help from a qualified therapist.

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July 17th, 2024

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