If your husband is telling you what you’re doing wrong all the time, it can be difficult to handle.
Though it’s tempting to get mad and start yelling about how unfair he is, sometimes getting angry just makes things worse.
In this post, we offer 14 tips on how to handle criticism without losing your cool or getting defensive.
1) Set boundaries specifically at what is a criticism and what is a disagreement
The first tip to deal with your husband’s constant criticism is to understand that there’s a difference between criticism and disagreement.
Your husband may be offering “constructive criticism” when he catches you doing something wrong. However, if you are too sensitive, you may take it as an insult, and this may lead to an argument.
But if you establish a boundary that there’s a difference between constructive feedback and insults, then the two of you can have meaningful discussions without fighting or getting angry at each other.
Let me show you how to set this boundary:
- Ask your husband what he means by his feedback.
- If he’s trying to help you, ask him to be specific.
- Listen to him and understand when and where he’s offering his feedback.
This will help you better understand what is constructive criticism and what is his way of insulting you.
2) Refuse to apologize for something that was not your fault
I know having a husband who is always finding fault with you can be frustrating. However, there are times when your husband finds fault with something you had no control over.
You may feel compelled to apologize for it. But refusing to do so can help you keep the peace in your relationship.
If your husband is always finding fault with you, then he may think you’re at fault for everything. He may give you no credit for the things that you do correctly. There will be no incentive for him to change his behavior.
Refusing to apologize can help him see that not everything is your fault and that he can’t blame everything on you. This can be a small step towards getting him to stop blaming you for everything and start accepting some responsibility as well.
3) Be able to express your feelings and thoughts in a way that is constructive
Here is the truth:
You can’t control your husband’s behavior. But you can control how you respond to him.
And one of the best ways to respond constructively is by expressing your thoughts in a way that doesn’t cause an argument. Let me show you what I mean:
- Instead of saying, “You always nag,” try, “I feel nagged when you keep pointing out my mistakes. I feel like you’re criticizing me all the time, and I’m not sure what’s wrong with me.”
This shows that you’re understanding his message, but you won’t agree with it.
- Instead of saying, “You never listen to what I have to say,” try, “Although we get on each other’s nerves sometimes, I still want to be able to talk to you. I know it’s hard for you to listen and I wouldn’t want to control the topics we talk about. If you have something to say, I like to know what you’ve done or thought about before we have a serious discussion.”
This shows that you’re willing to listen and understand his point of view, but that you don’t agree with him.
Remember that you can’t change your husband’s behavior. And if you keep expressing your displeasure with his negative behavior, then he may lose respect for you. Instead, express your frustration with his negative behavior in ways that will help him grow and learn how to be a better person.
4) Learn the power of saying “no”
As I’ve mentioned above, sometimes you may feel compelled to apologize for something that is not entirely your fault.
If your husband is always criticizing everything you do, then you may think that he expects you to be perfect and never make a mistake.
So when he points out even the smallest imperfection, you may feel like he’s criticizing you. Because of this, it’s likely that his criticism would lead to an argument every time he finds a fault with something you did.
But when you learn to say “no” to your husband’s criticism, you can avoid an argument and keep the peace in your relationship.
5) Get over your fear of confrontation
You might think that confrontation is something that will make the situation worse. And if you hold on to this fear and refuse to confront your husband, then your anger and frustration might be directed at him.
But if you hold on to this fear of confrontation, you’ll become passive and docile throughout your marriage. You’ll let things in the relationship remain stagnant, even as he points out everything about you that’s wrong.
Here’s the thing:
When you let your husband criticize everything you do, it’s going to make him think that he can dominate you. Over time, he’ll stop respecting you and start seeing you as someone who’s not worthy of his respect.
Though it can be difficult to confront your partner, holding on to your fear of confrontation will keep the relationship stagnant. And holding on to this fear can make him disrespect you altogether.
6) Begin to practice the art of positive networking
Maybe your husband’s constant criticism is affecting your relationship with your friends and family. Maybe your husband’s constant criticism is affecting your relationship with other people, including the people you work with and deal with every day of your life.
If you want to keep the peace and avoid arguments, then you need to learn how to network positively and build good relationships.
So how does this work?
By building relationships with people who are important in your life, you’ll have allies who can help you stop your husband’s behavior. You’ll also have an outlet for your emotions.
Practicing the art of positive networking is also a way for you to spend time with other people, which will help you avoid feeling isolated and alone.
7) Learn that your needs are not less important than his needs
Have you ever found yourself doing everything for your husband and ignoring your own needs? Perhaps you’ve taken on the role of being the housewife for many years, even though you have a career of your own that requires your attention.
Or perhaps you take care of your children day in and day out, while he’s just busy with work or watching television.
Believe it or not, this kind of self-sacrifice can actually make him feel like he owns you. It gets worse if he constantly criticizes everything you do. He may think that he can treat you however he wants to because you don’t have a voice in the relationship.
But what he doesn’t know is that everyone needs love, affection, and attention from their partner. And if you take on the role of being selfless, it’s likely that your husband will take advantage of your sacrifice without offering anything in return.
So instead of sacrificing yourself for your husband all the time, try setting boundaries and spending some time alone to fulfill your own needs.
Just remember you deserve to be happy and fulfilled too.
If you think your husband’s criticism is a sign of disrespect, then it might be time to consider whether or not you should stay in the relationship.
8) Don’t put up with manipulative behavior
I bet that the way he constantly criticizes you will lead to his manipulation. And when he manipulates you, he may get you to do things that you didn’t intend to do.
He can criticize you, which will make you feel bad. Then he can propose something that’s very difficult for you to do. And when he knows that you’ll be uncomfortable doing it, he can manipulate you into doing what he wants.
There are two ways that manipulative people get their partners to do what they want:
First, they use emotion and say things like, “If you really loved me then…” or “Don’t you think you should…?”
Second, they use guilt and constantly tell you that you’re disappointing them. They may say things like, “I thought I told you to…” or “Don’t you think I deserve…”
Part of learning the power of saying “no” is rejecting manipulation. When you reject all manipulation, then it’s harder for your husband to manipulate you.
9) Change the focus of your life from him to you
One of the things that you need to do is change the focus of your life from your husband’s behavior to your own behavior.
When you focus on him instead of yourself, then all you’ll be is a victim. You’ll feel like you have no control over your own life and that your life is controlled by him.
And you’ll end up feeling powerless, which will make it harder for you to say “no” to his manipulation.
But if you focus on yourself instead of him, then you’ll have more power and control in the relationship. Simply enjoy focusing on the things that you like to do and what makes you happy.
10) Focus on building your self-esteem
Having low self-esteem isn’t just bad for you; it’s also bad for your relationship with your husband.
Because when you have low self-esteem, you’ll take his criticism personally and start feeling negative about yourself. Thus, you’ll start looking for ways to please him by doing everything he says.
In other words, when you have low self-esteem, you’ll become dependent on your husband’s approval and unable to say “no” to manipulations. You’ll be stuck in a cycle of negativity without knowing how to make things better in the relationship.
But when you build your self-esteem, it’s easier for you to stand up for yourself. Want to know how to build your self-esteem?
Boost your self-confidence by saying “no” to his constant criticisms and learn how to stand up for yourself without feeling guilty. Take time to do what you enjoy, whether that’s spending time with friends, reading books, or going on vacation.
Take pride in your talents and show him that you’re not a victim but a capable woman who deserves better treatment.
11) Discover what you want from your marriage and from life
Trust me, this is the time to sort out whatever it is that you want from your marriage, with your husband included.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I happy in my marriage? What do I want from my marriage?
- Do I want to stay married or am I ready to separate? Why or why not?
- Do I enjoy being a housewife and taking care of the children? If not, what can I do to change that?
- How is my husband treating me? Am I satisfied with his treatment of me and the relationship as a whole? Why or why not?
The more you find out about yourself, the clearer you’ll be. And when you’re clear about who you are and what you want, then it’s easier for you to find the solution to your problem by looking at where he’s coming from.
12) Look at the positive side of your marriage
It’s always easier to be critical than it is to be positive. In other words, it’s easier to look at the negative side of things than to look at the positive side.
Your husband might be very critical of you, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any good things about your marriage.
There are probably times when he does things that make you feel special. He may do something that makes you feel beautiful, or he may make you laugh in the middle of a stressful day.
Or he may have done something that rejected your criticism completely and made it clear that he has no intention of treating you like a victim.
If there are good things in your relationship, then it’s easier for you to be happy and show him more love than usual.
Instead of continuing to focus on his negative behaviors, start focusing on the positive and work on finding things that you like about your relationship.
13) Try to avoid him for a month
If you want to make things better in your marriage, then you have to take care of yourself first. And the best way to do that is to spend at least one month without talking with your husband.
You’ll be able to do the no contact rule if you keep yourself busy with your friends and family and focus on the things that make you happy.
Doing the no-contact rule will give you a chance to see whether or not your marriage is worth saving. By avoiding him for a month, you’ll have time to think about how to save your relationship from falling apart.
And the good news is your husband has a chance to do the same thing. The no-contact rule will give him a chance to think about what he wants from your marriage and whether you’re the right woman for him.
You have the power to change your life for the better, so why wait?
14) Realize that leaving is sometimes the best option
I don’t want to scare you or make you think that I’m encouraging you to leave your marriage. But what I am saying is that sometimes leaving the relationship is the best option for both of you.
That’s something that a lot of women find surprising, but it’s true. And here are some reasons why leaving your marriage is sometimes the best option:
- Your husband doesn’t change his behaviors, he refuses to do anything about them and justifies his actions, and he blames others instead of taking responsibility.
- You will be in an emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive marriage.
- You don’t have any positive emotions towards your husband and nothing in the relationship makes you happy.
- Your marriage is emotionally or verbally abusive and it’s creating problems for you and your children.
- Your husband won’t go to counseling with you but pressures you to go alone.
- Your marriage causes mental issues for both of you and intimacy between the two of you has been lost completely.
So it all adds up to this:
Don’t be afraid to leave the marriage for good. Trust me, you’ll be happier in the long run.
Hopefully, with these 14 tips for handling a critical husband, you’ll be able to manage your husband’s critical behaviors and improve the relationship between the two of you.
Keep in mind that a critical husband isn’t an abusive husband, but a man who needs to learn how to manage his emotions in a better way.
And as you can see from these tips, it’s not too hard to handle a critical husband. Just remember that he’s not perfect and there’s no reason why you can’t be happy in your marriage despite his weaknesses and flaws.
There is hope. You can find the solution if you look hard enough and try to understand him instead of blaming him for everything.
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If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
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