Three Steps to Stop Kvetching About Your Partner
Charlene is a prominent defense attorney. Forty-five, she and Daryl have
been married for eight years. She was delighted, after being single for so long, to have met Daryl. They had an immediate meeting of minds and hearts. But, over the next few years, Charlene amassed a litany of realistic complaints about Daryl: he never keeps a job for any length of time, he’s chronically depressed, his anger erupts from out of nowhere. She has suggested he get therapy but he refuses.
Charlene doesn’t believe Daryl would hurt her, but she does get anxious
when he screams and puts his face up so close to hers. When her friends tell her to kick him out, she can’t. She loves him.
“This isn’t a woman-who-loves-too-much syndrome,” she asserts. “He is
depressed, but when he isn’t, we have a great time together and he’s very loving. Besides, I’d been single long enough to know there aren’t men out there who are much better.”
Charlene is in therapy, talking about how awful he can be, how mad he makes her, how he won’t pull his financial weight in the marriage. After weeks of her complaining with no changes in their relationship, I finally pose the dilemma: either stop complaining about him and accept him as he is, or tell him to leave.
Charlene is caught in a familiar bind for many women. They love a man, but he has problems that make their relationship untenable. If only he would change, they could be a contented couple. Charlene, like many women, work hard to help the man see what needs to be changed. But, to no avail. They are torn between loving the man and hating some crucial attributes.
It is at this point women need to make a decision: get out of the relationship or stop kvetching and accept him as he is. There are three steps that can help women make this decision.
- Identify what does not work for you in the relationship. Talk to the man, explain, using I Statements, what you need. Suggest couple’s therapy. If he resists, move on to the Step 2.
- Too many women blame themselves, “Maybe I haven’t explained myself well,” Maybe it’s really my fault,” Maybe I’m seeing this wrong.” STOP. If after talking with him about it a number of times, without seeing any changes, STOP. Once you acknowledge you have explained yourself clearly without accusations, you’ve offered therapy but he refuses, and he is not addressing your concerns and making an effort to listen to you, stop pushing the issue. Either he isn’t willing or able or ready to make the changes for you, himself and your relationship.
- That leaves you with a decision. Accept him as he is, knowing these things will not be different in the future. Or, get out. You may not like your choices, but they really are your only choices. Continuing to be with him and continuing to complain is not helpful — to him or to your self esteem. Your decision: Love him or leave him, but stop kvetching.
If you have questions or comments or want more information, contact me at:
Dr. Karen Gail Lewis
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