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Are You Just Venting and He Feels Criticized? How You Can Turn This Around

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John Gray With Anat Baniel: Tips 14 and 15 - Communicate Without Complaining and Recognizing Her Need to Vent

One of the biggest challenges in any relationship is that women have a tendency to verbalize their discontent. When there are problems, they need to talk about it. That part of the brain responsible for language is bigger in a woman than it is in a man. So, men don't often understand that women are just venting their frustrations or saying that this or that didn't happen.

What Women Need to Know
To men, your complaining or venting sounds like criticism -- and like you are criticizing him. The wonderful news is that there is a way that you can communicate with him without sounding critical: Convert your complaints into very specific, direct requests.

When you notice that you are sounding like you're complaining, pause and take a step back. Rewind and tell him: "Oh, I am so sorry that I sounded like I'm complaining. I didn't mean to." Instead, tell him: "You've been so helpful." And take a moment to point out what he has done that has been helpful.

Then, in a loving way, make a request. Be specific. Instead of saying, "You didn't do this.. again." Simply say: "Would you do this... next time?"

When you turn your venting and complaints into requests, you empower your man and you give him the path to be successful with you. Remember, he really wants to make you happy. He will feel supported by you and want to support you more. (Read our previous post on how to support each other.) And then, as you do it together, you become partners.

What Men Need to Know
What we men have to understand is that when our partners are taking care of our children with special needs and we come home from the office, she has a need to vent about what happened that day. Everything that went wrong, to some extent, needs to be verbalized out loud.

We may feel frustrated because we feel like she's complaining and we may be thinking: If you're telling that to me, you must think it's my fault because I was away and I couldn't be here. Then, we may end up feeling guilty and pressured.

Men need to recognize that women have this huge need -- much greater than men, even though men have it, too -- to vent their frustrations, their disappointments and problems. She needs to be able to communicate that to him in a way where he can hear her.

However, men, if she forgets how to communicate to you in a way that you can hear her without feeling criticized, it's important to make an adjustment in how you're listening. Remember, it's about her need to communicate to you -- it's not personal. Try to adjust your listening so that you can hear what she's saying. (Read our previous tip on recognizing defensiveness.)

What Each of You Can Do
What she can say to him:
"I'm so glad you're here. I just need to vent what happened today for ten minutes, and I don't expect you to say anything, fix anything, or solve anything. I know you're doing your best. I just want to download my day to you."

How he can respond: "OK, I can do that." Then he may interrupt her a few times...

And she can say in a very friendly way: "No, no, no, really you don't have to fix anything. This isn't about you. I just want to vent so you know what's going on in my life. That's all." Later, if you want to ask for things, you can certainly ask for things, but this is not the time to do it.

Meanwhile, let's say his partner is venting about things, and he's listening and starting to feel defensive, starting to get tired. He's worried how long it is going to go on, why she's telling him this. All of these things can go on inside of him.

He can say:
"Let's pause for a moment because I really want to hear what you're saying. And, would you take a moment to say all the good things that I do? Because it starts to sound like I don't do anything right or I'm not doing a good job and I know that's not what you're saying. Would you just take a moment to say what IS good in your life, and what's good about me? And, then we'll come back to it, because I don't want to get all defensive, I really want to hear what you're saying."

Using these little tactics can make a HUGE difference so that she can feel heard and he can feel appreciated, trusted, respected, and empowered. A woman needs to be able to download whatever is going on inside of her with someone. Otherwise, she feels like she's doing it all by herself, and it becomes a huge burden.

For women, the number one stress reducer is to feel that she's not alone. Men, as her partner, you can provide that for her.

WATCH: Communicate Without Complaining

Tip #14 From John Gray

WATCH: Recognizing Her Need to Vent

Tip #15 From John Gray

We'd love to hear about your experiences! And, be sure to watch for our next video blog Tip #16 with John Gray: The Venus Talk.

Attend a free, experiential 2-hour "Children With Special Needs" Workshop with Anat Baniel on August 3 in San Rafael, California.

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