Complain Well

Last week I had a session in which I was routinely interrupting the husband. Typically when couples criticize each other in couples counseling, I intervene. If I don’t, the recipient often gets defensive, and the couple escalates.

My job is to ensure the couple is not escalating and instead having a conversation. With the couple I mentioned, the husband wasn’t obviously critical but had a more subtle form of complaining that his wife was spending too much money. I understood that it created financial insecurity for him, but in essence, he was calling his wife a spendthrift.

I generally want my couples to complain since this is how one expresses: issues, concerns, needs, and wants. However, rather than expressing his financial concerns, this husband was complaining about what’s wrong with his wife.

Being able to make this distinction could be the difference between being miserable or not and staying together or not.