When a woman consistently tells you that everything you do is wrong, it can feel like abuse. But is it?

Often not.

What you want to understand is that a woman’s complaints about your behavior are different than criticizing who you are, and you want to respond to them differently.

Women tend to communicate more passively than men by nature, and for that reason, rather than asking for what we want, directly, we do so, passively, in the way of complaints — or by pointing out what we’re lacking.

Examples: “We don’t spend time together.” “You don’t play with the kids.” “You don’t help around the house.”

These kinds of statements are passive and meant to do two things:

1. Sound an alarm to say: I don’t feel safe or loved.
2. Get you to feel the pain she feels and to give her what she needs.

The problem is that this strategy rarely works with a man! It doesn’t work because he interprets these complaints to mean something else. He hears them to mean something like this: “You’re no good. You do everything wrong. I can’t count on you.”

When he hears what he believes are criticisms of himself and his contribution, he goes into self-protection. The armor goes up.

And then what does the woman do? Well, she gets louder. She figures that maybe he didn’t hear the alarm! Maybe he doesn’t get how serious this is for her.

“Did you hear me?” she says, more loudly. Did you hear me tell you the kids miss you? That I never see you? That I’m overwhelmed and it feels like I’m doing this family thing alone?

She’s crying out for his empathy, and for his support. In her passive way, she’s saying “I need you.”
But the unaware man does not hear it this way and ignores her further. He doesn’t want to be drawn into more “abuse.”

Instead of allaying her fears, he makes the situation worse by doing nothing.

Am I saying that complaining is good? No, I’m saying that if you understand women and their nature, and how they communicate (especially under stress), you will see that what you feel and interpret as “abuse” isn’t actually abuse. It’s a woman crying out for love and support.

Complaining is NOT a great way to communicate. It would work so much better if your partner was direct with you about what she needed or wanted, for sure. But it’s a lot harder to change a woman’s nature than to accept her as she is.

By becoming more sensitive to how she is, you can circumvent a lot of unnecessary battles. You can act on her complaints in a protective manner, and then encourage her to ask you for what she needs, more directly. “Hey honey, next time when you’re this upset, I urge you to just ask me for what you want and I’ll get on it.”

So, what does actually constitute abuse and how is it different from complaining? Criticisms disparage you and your character.

“You’re no good. You’re a useless father. You can’t be trusted.”

These are very different than a woman saying: “We don’t spend quality time together.” Or, “You don’t care about me.” You may hear that these complaints characterize you as a bad man, when in fact, they’re a woman simply saying: I miss you or I don’t feel loved.

I’d enjoy hearing your input on this! Does this resonate? Just respond to this email. I answer my mail personally.

And I encourage you to experiment with this!

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