Loving Your Negative Spouse

How to handle constant criticism
Loving Your Negative Spouse

From the looks of things, Jenny* was the proverbial have-it-all-together woman. She was attractive, lived in a nice house, and didn't need to worry about money. She even had a caring husband, two healthy children, and was very "needed" at her church.

But as the marital therapy began, it did not take long to understand one of her husband's frustrations—Jenny was negative about almost everything, especially about everything her husband, Ron, did. Jenny expected that sooner or later, all aspects of her life would turn sour. The children would become ill, her husband would have an affair, their money would run out, and she knew she wasn't really attractive. Ron's brief attempts at encouragement were always met with an argument. Rarely a day passed that Ron didn't hear how his way of doing things was somehow wrong or disliked by Jenny.

Therapy for them had two challenges. The first was to help Jenny realize the reasons behind her behavior and how to make healthy changes. The second was to help Ron live with her in an understanding and yet maritally beneficial way. That second part cannot be overlooked. It is not uncommon for a negative, fault-finding spouse to avoid changing at the beginning of therapy, primarily because they don't want to. That being the case, the other spouse is often left wondering, "Is there anything I can do that can encourage them, help me, and ultimately improve our marriage?" And the answer is yes.

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May 25

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