People who feel compelled to voice their negative about almost everything are a drain on your emotions. Pretty soon, you find yourself focusing on negative things, even if everything isn't as bad as it seems from your description. Complaining can be constructive if it has an endpoint, a point where the complaint is made into a catalyst for change. Without that endpoint, complaining is simply complaining for the sake of being negative, angry and resentful. If your husband relies heavily on complaining, it may be time to ask yourself, and him, whether his complaints have a genuine purpose.
Being Assertive and Optimistic
Be mindfully optimistic. Optimism has a diffusing effect on someone who is constantly complaining because it doesn't fuel the fires of negativity. Lead by being the example of a person who can see not only the positive side of things, but both sides and share those perspectives with your husband. You can't force him to stop complaining and, in fact, attempting to do so can make his complaining even worse. Being optimistic, explains the Mayo Clinic in their online publication "Positive Thinking: Reduce Stress By Eliminating Negative Self-Talk," can improve your mood, enhance immunity, and increases your ability to cope with the complaints.
Set limits with your husband that identify your parameters for tolerating his complaining. Explain to your husband that while you respect his right to voice his opinion, you also have the right to limit the amount of time and listening you will relinquish for that purpose. This approach can serve multiple purposes, including letting your husband know that he doesn't have a unlimited ear to bend and he will have to learn to handle his frustrations independently. Limit your husband by being specific about his complaint, with the explanation that "I can't sit and listen indefinitely to you complain about how your boss treats you unfairly, although I understand that you are frustrated."
Express your feelings to your husband about his constant complaining. Expressing how you feel about your husband's constant complaining creates an atmosphere that can be therapeutic for both of you. Suppressing your feelings, explains Dr. D. Wayne Matthews of North Carolina Cooperative Extension in their online publication "Expressing Feelings," can eat away at your marriage and increase the number of conflicts between you. When stating your feelings, it's important to use "I" statements such as "I feel frustrated when you complain frequently because I get the impression you want me to provide you with a solution for something that you should work towards resolving." Refrain from being judgmental of your husband's behavior and stick to identifying them factually.
Avoid taking on your husband's feelings as your own. It's easy, especially when you love someone, to want to align yourself with their feelings. This is especially true when the person you love isn't happy. Taking on your husbands feelings as your own can increase your own feelings of angst and can create a larger problem for you that can overshadow your husband's problem. Avoid making statements to your husband that fuel his anger or redirects it toward you. Instead, remain calm and continue on your path of intentional optimism.
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- The University of Kansas: Dealing With Difficult People & Difficult Situations
- Mayo Clinic: Positive Thinking: Reduce Stress By Eliminating Negative Self-Talk
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Expressing Feelings
- Psychology Today: Whine, Whine, Whine: Four Simple Steps for Dealing with Complainers
Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.
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