Criticism In A Relationship: 12 Devastating Effect Exposed Now

The adverse effects of criticism in a relationship can never be underestimated. Every couple should be aware of it and avoid it before it destroys the foundation of their relationship.

In fact, habitual criticism is so devastating that a famous marriage researcher, John Guttman, described it as one of the top predators of relationships.

However, note that you are not expected to just fold your hands and accept all your partner’s less-than-needed qualities; you are expected to react. How you talk about it is what matters most.

In this post, we will look at different types of criticism in a relationship, the effects, and the signs. Just sit tight with your best drink as we delve into that.

What Is Considered Criticism in a Relationship?

Criticism in a relationship refers to when you or your partner frequently find judges, disapproves, or finds faults in each other. It can be verbal or non-verbal criticism and may also involve mocking or name-calling.

Criticism can be very damaging, and it can make your receiving partner feel unappreciated, belittled, and unloved. According to renowned relationship researcher John Gottman, criticism is among the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” that can initiate relationship doom.

He reiterates that “criticism is a major predictor of divorce or dissolution of marriage, as it makes the partner feel unloved and unvalued.

In fact, another survey by the American Community Survey found that 44 percent of married couples cited criticism as the reason for their divorce. We don’t want that to happen to your relationship; that’s why I am here to help you work on making your marriage better.

Before I take you on a tour about how to handle criticism in a relationship, let us first look at the types of criticism.

What Are The Types Of Criticism In A Relationship?

Constructive Criticism:

Constructive criticism can be described as a thoughtful way of offering feedback aimed at helping a spouse improve. It focuses on specific actions or behaviors rather than attack the spouse.

Effective constructive criticism is specific, respectful and actionable, and it aims to highlight the areas for growth. It fosters a supportive environment that is conducive to professional and personal development.

2. Destructive Criticism:

Destructive criticism in a relationship is a pattern of hurtful and negative judgements, evaluations and comments that is aimed at controlling, belittling and shaming one’s partner. This can be non-verbal or verbal and may also involve mocking, blaming or name-calling

This behavior destroys self-esteem, intimacy and trust, and it creates a toxic environment. It is often a sign that there are underlying issues such as jealousy, power struggles and insecurity.

If left unchecked, this behavior can lead to resentment, emotional distress, and relationship breakdown. Recognizing and tackling destructive criticism is important for a healthy and loving relationship.

3. Passive aggressive criticism:

This is a type of criticism that involves negative thoughts or feelings indirectly, usually through feigned ignorance or backhanded compliments. It is characterized by an unwillingness to tackle issues openly and directly, which in turn leads to confusion and frustration for the partner.

Instead of communicating their concerns and dissatisfaction openly, the passive-aggressive partner may use nonverbal cues or veiled remarks to show their displeasure. This makes it challenging for the couple to address or resolve the underlying issues.

4. Overtly Critical Behavior:

This is another type of criticism in a relationship that involves always finding faults or nitpicking a partner over minor issues, creating a negative atmosphere in the relationship.

The partner exhibiting this behavior may focus only on mistakes or flaws and overlook the positive aspects. This extensive criticism can destroy self-esteem, trust, and the overall quality of a relationship.

This usually stems from unrealistic expectations, personal insecurities, or a desire for control; it undermines the stability and health of the partnership.

5. Self-criticism:

Self-criticism means being hard on yourself. It is when you consistently feel that you are never a good enough partner. You might blame yourself for things that go wrong, even when you are not responsible.

This can make you feel mad about yourself and how happy or sad you are in your relationship. It is important to be kind and not tough on yourself all the time.

Effects Of Criticism In Relationships:

Constantly criticizing your partner has so many devastating effects. That’s what I want to show you in this section. When you know how harmful it is, you may not want to bring it close to your relationship.

Below are five of the effects on both your partner and your entire relationship.

  • It Destroys Self-Esteem: When you constantly criticize your partner, you are making him or her feel unappreciated, inadequate, and unvalued. That reduces their self-esteem. When constantly criticized,  you may start doubting your abilities and feel you are not good enough, causing a negative self-image
  • It Creates Defensiveness: Criticism can make a partner defensive because they will try to protect themselves from perceived attack. Defensiveness is what makes your partner argumentative, even counter-attacking, which leads to escalation of conflicts.
  • Creates Resentment: Criticism can also foster resentment. This is because your partner feels that their efforts are not appreciated. Resentment can develop overtime time, create a sense of hostility and bitterness and cause the relationship to breakdown.
  • Destroys Trust: Criticism In a relationship, trust can be damaged as your spouse feels you are not supportive or understanding. It can always be challenging to repair a broken trust, that leads to sense of uncertainty and insecurity.
  • It Stifles Communication: Criticism causes a partner to avoid sharing their feelings and thoughts because of fear. This leads to breakdown in communication and makes it hard to address your issues, leading to relationship failure.

How To Deal With Criticism In A Relationship:

1. Always Listen Empathy:

“Yes,” you head that right, If you are in the criticism game, then one of the ways you can quit it is to try and give listening ears to your partner.

Hear their concerns without interrupting them. Listen with empathy. This involves actively listening to their tones, words and emotions. Always put yourself in their shoes to understand their concerns.

By doing this, you have created a supportive environment for honest communication, and it will help your marriage thrive. It will also foster respect and mutual understanding

2. Concentrate on dealing with the issue:

To deal with criticism in a relationship, it will be pertinent that you focus on solutions and shift the conversation from blaming to solving the problems.

Instead of blaming your partner, work together to find the root cause of the issue and think of a possible solution. This collaborative approach will create a sense of mutual respect and teamwork and encourage openness, compromise and creativity. This will help to strengthen your relationship.

3. Communicate openly.

Having open communication with your partner involves expressing your emotions and thoughts honestly, even as you respect your partner’s viewpoint. It requires that you create a safe environment where both of you are comfortable sharing your feelings without fear of judgement.

By communicating respectfully and calmly, you will convey your perspectives effectively. This openness helps your relationship by building intimacy and trust. By building intimacy and trust, both of you will feel heard and valued in your relationship dynamic.

5. Reflect on validity:

Now that you are in the process of incorporating criticism into your relationship, it will be great to always reflect on the validity of criticism. This involves taking a step back to check the feedback you received from your partner.

This requires that you examine them honestly to determine if there is truth in their observations and whether you need to adjust. This process requires self-awareness and personal growth, as it helps you identify areas you need to improve on.

When you find them out, take proactive steps to address them, and your relationship will start getting back to normal again.

5. Set Your Boundaries:

To navigate criticism in your relationship, you will need to establish limits for constructive criticism and address all the disrespectful behavior. Setting boundaries is all about defining limits for how criticism will be delivered or received in your relationship.

After setting your boundaries, communicate to your partner what is acceptable and not acceptable. By establishing your boundaries, both of you have endured criticism that remains respectful and constructive. That will help to maintain respect and harmony in your relationship.

6. Validate each other’s feelings:

To validate each other’s feelings means to understand your individual emotions and concerns as important and valid, even when you don’t agree with them.

It also means emphasizing with them, actively listening to their emotions, and desisting from judgmental or dismissive reactions.

Learning to validate each other’s feelings will help you create a nurturing and supportive environment where you feel valued and understood.This strengthens emotions, promotes good communication, and deepens the bond between you.

7. Seek Compromise:

To seek compromise means to always find common ground where both of your desires and needs are taken care of. It requires active listening, open communication, and the ability to understand each other’s opinions.

By focusing on the solution that benefits both of you rather than being one-sided, you will create a sense of mutual respect and equality in your relationship.

This teamwork approach fosters flexibility, empathy, and creativity in solving your issues. This will strengthen your bond and bring harmony to your relationship.

8. Choose to Take a Break Any Time:

Another important tip on how to take criticism in a relationship is to take a break when necessary, especially during heated moments. This will help you prevent the escalation of the issue and maintain constructive communication.

It allows you and your spouse to step away from the heat of the moment, cool off emotionally, and regain perspective.

The little space will provide you with an opportunity to reflect on your issues and approach your discussion calmly and maturely.

By implying emotional regulation and respect for each other’s boundaries, you will be able to contribute to healthier ways to tackle your issues effectively.

9. Seek Help from Professionals:

Seeking professional help through counseling or couples therapy can be the best choice you make to deal with criticism. A trained therapist will provide you with neutral grounds to express yourselves and build healthy communication strategies.

Through their guided sessions, you can learn how to navigate your conflicts constructively and strengthen your bond. A good therapist will also offer you valuable tools and styles to manage criticism, resentment, and defensiveness and build a loving relationship.


Criticism in a relationship can be very harmful. It can make your spouse feel unvalued and unloved; however, there are ways to handle it.

Talk about your issues, listen to each other, and respect each other’s feelings. Don’t forget to seek the help of a professional when necessary. As you work together and are understanding, you can make your relationship happier and stronger.

Aik: AIK UCHEGBU is a writer and an authority in anything that matters about marriage and how to build it successfully. His followers have been greatly enhanced by his findings. You will not be disappointed by coming to this site.