In my Crows Nest relationship counselling practice, I see couples at all stages of their relationship. It’s never too early to come in for couples counselling! Getting support to communicate effectively and lovingly nurture your relationship are life skills we can all benefit from. After all, your relationship impacts every aspect of your life – home, family, finances, health and sexuality to name but a few.
There are 3 C’s that can negatively impact your relationship and they ring alarm bells for me when I see couples for counselling. The slippery slide to relationship hell starts with Complaint, escalates to Criticism and then kills the love totally with Contempt.
Complaint can be very common in relationships of all kinds. “You did this and it made me feel upset”. A complaint is usually about a single, specific event where you feel that your partner did the wrong thing by you. A complaint has a purpose. It allows you to let the other person know the impact of their behaviour upon you and as part of the complaint you may ask that the behaviour change. Your partner has the choice to change that behaviour in the future or not. If the hurtful behaviour continues, then the complaint may become a chronic complaint. This is the danger zone where complaint can turn into criticism.
Criticism is less specific to a particular incident or behaviour. It tends to focus on the person themselves rather than the behaviour. It’s far more hurtful than complaint and the person who is being criticised may feel attacked and wronged. Criticism cuts to the core of someone’s character and intentions. Neither the criticised nor the accuser feels good, as it sets up an adversarial relationship rather than building connection. For many people, criticism can trigger negative parenting or schooling experiences and it may feel like you are being treated like a naughty child. None of this is positive in an adult relationship.
Contempt is when you really need to start to worry about the state of your relationship. If you are contemptuous of your partner, it means that you see them as less. Contempt has the intention of insulting, demeaning or abusing the other person. It means their value as a person has eroded and you no longer respect them. It destroys the positive qualities of admiration, friendship and connection in a relationship. Contempt creates a wall between you and your partner and will actively erode the love and care in your relationship.
If you are finding that one of the three C’s is creeping into your relationship then get help now, either as an individual or a couple. I work with clients everyday to support them to let go of negative relationship behaviours and build positive, supportive relationships. Don’t wait until it’s too late, let’s talk before it breaks! Contact me now and find out how I can help you.