If there is one thing that will surely put a damper on a good relationship, it is constant complaining. Complaining is such a way of life for many of us, and that is partially due to the fact that in America, we are used to having many things at our disposal. If our power goes out, we complain and act as if it is a travesty without thinking about the fact that many in our world will never know what it’s like to have electricity. Heaven forbid if the cable goes out or we are stuck in traffic on the way to work. Listen to others the next time you are out; count how many complaints you hear from the people around you. It is everywhere. How do you feel when you hear someone complain? Does it brighten your day or does it make you feel grouchy? It is easy to pick up on other peoples’ complaints; however, it is harder to realize when we’re the one complaining. Will Bowen once said, “Complaining is like bad breath, you notice it when it comes out of somebody else’s mouth, but not your own.”
This is a topic with which I am well acquainted. Without being careful, I have a tendency to complain without giving it a second thought. When you are single, your complaints might be less noticeable, but when you are married and constantly in the presence of another person, you will likely be called out on habitual complaining. Eric very clearly stated early in our marriage that my complaining was bringing him down. In retrospect, I’m sure it was draining on him. I’d come home from work complaining about problems I had that day, the traffic, the dirty dishes, the insensitive things someone said to me, etc., and it seemed like the complaints started almost immediately after he walked in the door. He put up with them for a while, but he could only take it for a while. He told me that my constant complaining was really dragging him down. It was tempting to complain about his complaint about my complaining, but it didn’t seem appropriate at the time. J But… it did make me think.
Until that point in time, I had not realized how much I had been complaining. Interestingly, if he has a bad day and comes home complaining about it (which, admittedly is very rare), it drags me down in the dumps immediately. Our complaints and attitudes do affect our spouse and others around us. No man is an island, no matter how much we aspire to be out of others’ paths.
I challenge you to take note of your complaints. You will probably be surprised at how they sneak up on you. Even as I write this blog, my dog keeps whining. I got up once to give her a treat and after about five minutes, she was whining again. I took her outside to use the bathroom and I was not really happy about it since it is hours before her normal potty break. As I was coming back into my bedroom, to finish this blog post, I felt the urge to e-mail Eric and complain about how aggravating our dog was being. SEE?!?! Even if we think we are immune, it still sneaks up on us.
If you really want to see how you are doing in this area, ask someone who is with you a lot to let you know how you are doing with your complaints. You may not want him or her to tell you every time you complain, because that may lead you into a bad mood; but, they could give you a run down at the end of your time together as to how much complaining they noticed from you. Like any habit, complaining takes a while to break.
For the health of your future marriage, I urge you to get complaining in check now to save you heartache and arguments later. If you are with someone who is consistently negative and constantly complains, gently bring it to his or her attention. If they are willing to work on it, show them some grace. People who complain all the time may have been raised in the presence of constant complaining – so, it could be a homegrown habit. If they refuse to admit they have a problem, and then complain that you are always complaining about their complaints, it might be a sign that your relationship has bigger problems.
Considering all the things you need to know and prepare for prior to marriage, this topic may seem like a small issue in the scheme of your relationship. I assure you, it is not a small thing. Complaining leads to discontentment, discontentment leads to searching for contentment, and searching for contentment often leads to affairs. So, practice speaking positively. A positive home is a haven of rest, and few people find a need to stray from their haven.
Are you quick to complain? How is that affecting yourself and others around you?