If your wife always complains, don’t make the mistake of just ignoring her. Complaints are a warning sign. If you don’t take care of them, you may lose your wife altogether.
When your wife first started complaining, you may have tried to do things to make her happy.
As the complaining continued, you probably felt like there was nothing more you could do.
Don’t tune her out! This head-in-the-sand approach to marriage is the beginning of the end. I will tell you why she complains and what you can do.
You will enjoy your marriage more, and she will too. This is exactly the kind of win-win I talk about in my book, Connecting though “Yes!” Remember, you will never win by making her lose.
Why your wife always complains
Men are good at making quick decisions. That’s great in an emergency. However, that’s not so great when responding to your wife. The wrong action, taken quickly, will kill your weekend, to say the least.
To be successful with women, take a moment. Consider the different reasons that may account for her actions.
Most of the time, there are likely to be multiple contributing factors. That’s why you just addressing one of them, may not stop her complaining.
1 Is it her personality?
Personality characteristics endure for years and begin in adolescence. You may wonder if you got a lemon wife with a baaad personality. Before you go there, consider first if she has always been this way.
People with personality problems can’t hide them long from a spouse. Consider—Did her problems start right before marriage? Right after? Off and on like a roller coaster? Starting point, frequency, duration, and pattern are your keys to detecting a faulty personality.
Example one: While dating, my wife treated her family like crap, but I was gold. After getting married, she treated me like crap, too, and hasn’t stopped except when she wants something. Obvious personality issue here.
Example two: Wife has great relationships with her friends and family. Started treating me poorly after a couple of years of marriage. Gets better for a while if I treat her well. Then, goes back to being nasty. Obvious relationship issue—with you! Risk of an affair if you don’t work on things.
The more it is about you only, the less likely it is a personality issue. The more it is about everybody else, the more it is about her.
If it is about her and her personality problem, all hope is not lost. She will have to learn that this way of behaving does not work. Your focus for making things better will be on having good boundaries, provided you are already treating her well.
Even if she has a personality problem, you can still be to blame if you are not being a man she could enjoy otherwise. Her bad behavior does not excuse yours.
2 Is it her way of trying to make your relationship better?
If your wife always complains, it’s because she wants things to be better. But, that’s like hitting your thumb with a hammer to cure your headache. Many women actually believe complaints make things better.
I tell him what I don’t like–>he understands–>he makes desired changes–>our relationship gets better
If you don’t make the desired changes, she figures you don’t understand. So, she will tell you again. She will repeat this as long as things don’t change. Her motive is to make things better. Her method is irritating.
Needy women don’t have good relationship skills. Their behavior—intended for good—damage the relationship. Needy men do the same, of course.
Rather than react to the complaint by becoming defensive, see behind the complaint to the intention. Is she trying to hurt you? Is she trying to make things better?
Example one: You are a stupid waste of a man. I don’t know why I married you. You can’t do anything right. I have to tell you everything. Obviously trying to hurt you. Requires good boundaries.
Example two: You stay up too late and play video games too much. I wish you would grow up. Not trying to hurt you. Wants to spend more time with you.
Seeing the intention can help you to respond in the best way. Most men would get defensive to both of these examples. That wouldn’t help in either case. Neither would apologizing or promising to do better. The first calls for boundaries; the second for agreement.
Apologies, promises, and jumping to fix things encourage continued complaining. Just working on doing better going forward will improve your relationship without rewarding the complaining. It is especially important for you to do the things that will get you more love from your wife. She wants to, but there are things you need to do to help her do that.
3 Is she intentionally trying to distance herself from you?
She is nice to others, and you are nice to her, but your wife always complains about you. You wonder what you did wrong. When you ask her, you just get petty answers. What is going on?
It is not improvement that she is after. Petty complaints and more recent dissatisfaction (past two years) with you means one of two things.
- She is having a midlife crisis. In this case, she will be generally dissatisfied with her life and not just you. Other people will wonder what is wrong with her, too. Her complaints create more dissatisfaction with her life to justify new ventures and changes.
- She is preparing for separation, divorce, or an affair. She may already be having an affair. In such cases, her problem will be with you only. She is creating emotional distance to justify ending your relationship.
This is an often misrecognized divorce warning sign. Do NOT confront her about this as it will just lead to a big conflict and worse situation. Instead, you need to start becoming a more attractive man so that she will not feel like she is missing out on something better by staying with you.
You also need to learn how to respond when she says these distancing complaints. You certainly don’t want to have more conflict (which she is after).
Reduce complaints and build your relationship
Regardless of why your wife always complains, the way you behave or have behaved over the years may be a contributing factor. Often men were much better partners before getting married or early on in marriage.
That is not fair to women and is the wrong behavior for maintaining a marriage. Your marriage license and dirty socks are not going to do the work for you. You have to maintain the connection, and your attractiveness. That takes work, but satisfying work.
1 Be fair and helpful
Being fair doesn’t mean being equal in the amount of work you do. It means each person working to their ability. If you are more able than your wife, then you may need to do much more than your wife or get extra help for her.
Help with the housework, even if you have a job and she doesn’t. Same for raising children. She needs time off, time for herself, and time with her friends without you.
Although being helpful does not bring romantic connection, it will reduce your wife’s stress and make it easier for her to spend time with you.
2 Stay attractive
Think back to when your wife was first attracted to you. Why was she? What was so attractive about you that she would choose to marry you over other men? How much does who you are now resemble who you were then?
Many men have lost their attractiveness by getting out of shape, giving up friends, stopping hobbies, and so on.
Have you lost your mojo?
Another way to think of it: If you were going to have an affair, what changes would you make to attract another woman? Make these same changes to work on attracting your wife.
3 Treat her like a girlfriend, rather than like a wife, mother, or business partner
Do you treat your wife like a “wife”? Is that different from the way you would treat a girlfriend? If so, why is it? Many men have the mistaken idea that women want to transform from girlfriends to mothers or business partners when they get married.
Pick the better marriage proposal:
Will you marry me and become my mother?
Will you marry me and carry on the romance?
Do this exercise:
- Imagine you were single and had a girlfriend.
- Imagine that you treated her the same way you treat your wife now.
- Now, what would happen to that relationship?
If what you are doing would not please a single woman, then it won’t please your wife either. To get her appreciation, help more with the chores. If you want affection, help your wife to enjoy you. It won’t be a wonder if your wife always complains because you treat her like your mother!
If you don’t treat your wife like a girlfriend, your wife may become attracted to another man who does. Keep her on fire for you so that other men’s sparks won’t be so appealing.
4 Have good boundaries and don’t be needy
Some men are too patient with their wives.
Things NOT to be patient with:
- Not spending one on one time together.
- Not having sex. (Resource: ways to fix a sexless marriage )
- Making the children a priority.
These lead to permanent problems. Each of these things will cause emotional attachment between the husband and wife is lost.
Criticizing and complaining to your wife about her behaviors is not going to fix this or any other situation. These are needy behaviors which will drive her away.
Being suspicious and controlling will also damage your relationship rather than protect it. If that is you, then work on overcoming your neediness. and and you can learn them both.