How to Cope With a Husband Who Criticizes You

Is nothing ever good enough for your husband? These five tips for coping with a critical husband begin with reassurance that if you’re a criticized wife living with an impossible-to-please man, you are not alone.

“If you’re among those criticized, you’re in good company,” writes Dianna Booher in Communicate With Confidence. “Heads of state receive criticism, even though a majority of voters consider them worthy of high office. Religious leaders receive criticism, even if they’re living on bread on water to feed the poor. Celebrity athletes get booed when they don’t live up to their previous feats and track records. Movie stars are forgotten if their latest performance flops at the box office.”

But, did you notice that those examples are of public criticism? Living with a critical man – especially if he’s mean or abusive husband – is a whole different story. Many of us criticize celebrities, athletes, politicians, and anyone in the public eye. Being criticized by your own husband, who is supposed to love, respect and honor you, is more painful and destructive.

If you’re a husband who is coping with a critical wife, you too can apply these tips to your own marriage.

I’ve been getting comments from husbands who say, “Why is it always the husband who’s critical? Wives criticize their husbands, too!” That’s true, and I completely agree. In this article, I never say that wives aren’t critical or husbands are the only ones who criticize in marriage. I wrote this article for wives who want to learn how to cope with critical husbands simply because my “She Blossoms” readers are women. I write for wives and girlfriends who want to have better relationships with their husbands and boyfriends.

The worst type of criticism comes from someone you love – and who is supposed to love you unconditionally. I don’t mind being criticized by my boss, readers, or even my neighbors…but when my husband criticizes me, it really hurts. My first tip on coping with critical husbands is to learn how to cope critical, controlling people. I share books and resources at the end of this article.

These suggestions for coping with husbands who criticize and demean their wives might help you cope. I also offered tips for taking the sting out of negative feedback…

5 Ways to Cope With a Critical Husband

When you’re reading these tips, remember that your husband may not intentionally criticize you, but you hear criticism in everything he says. Sometimes that happens with me and my husband: I’ll say something I think is innocent about, say, what parking space to park the car in. Sometimes he hears it as a personal criticism, and suddenly we’re having a big fight.

If you find yourself being critical, read How to Stop Criticizing Your Husband.

Are you super-sensitive to your husband’s criticism? Are you hearing criticisms that don’t exist? I’m not defending your husband or saying this is what’s happening in your marriage – I’m just encouraging you to try to look at your relationship objectively.

1. Determine whether criticism is intended to be constructive or destructive

“You can often tell whether a person intends to destroy you with a comment or intends to just bring about some change,” writes Booher in Communicate With Confidence. “Pay attention to the person’s word choice, emotion, and body language.”

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Does your husband call you names (eg, “you’re lazy”) or comment on your behaviour (eg, “when you lie around all day and don’t help around the house, I feel frustrated”)? Does he have specific changes she’d like you to make, or does he just generally criticize everything you do? Is the subject of the criticism something you can change? Is your husband criticizing you in an attempt to control you, or to make you feel guilty?

It can be difficult to take a step back and determine if your husband’s criticisms are legit or not, but it’s an important distinction to make. If you’re in an unhealthy marriage, you may need to go beyond coping with criticism to finding the strength to leave a bad marriage. The best way to cope with a critical husband may be to leave him.

2. Don’t set yourself up to be criticized

Booher says there are several surefire ways to set yourself up to be criticized: be unprepared, be poorly organized, put other people down, fail to do what you promise, ignore the rights of others, always demand your own way, being confrontational in tone or mannerisms, do sloppy work, disregard what is going on around you, and disregard the social norms of your environment.

It may seem like those ways to invite criticism are work-related, but they apply to your marriage and household life, too! For instance, if you’re disorganized and unprepared for a family gathering or important event, then you’re setting yourself up to be criticized by your spouse. If you continually do things you know will upset or frustrate your husband, then you’re inviting criticism.

3. Avoid the urge to counterattack with a criticism of your own

How to Cope With a Husband Who Criticizes YouIf your husband criticizes your friends, don’t counter with a criticism of his friends. If your husband attacks the way you clean the house, don’t counterattack with a rundown of how poorly he washes and waxes the car.

“Counterattack comes naturally,” writes Booher. “When the criticizer offers comments, you return the heat.”

Instead of falling into the default attack mode, focus on the issue. Why is your husband criticizing you on this particular subject, in this particular way? If he’s mean and abusive, then it’s time to start thinking about your future.

If you feel trapped in an abusive marriage, read How to Leave Your Husband When You Have No Money.

4. Take a deep breath before responding to your husband’s criticism

If your husband is criticizing you at a family gathering or where others are present, then it may be better to let the remark pass rather than make a scene. You don’t want to prolong the agony – yours or others’!

Later, when you’re alone, you might say something like, “When you criticized my work in front of your parents, I felt embarrassed and hurt. Next time, could you bring it up with me alone so we can talk about it?”

5. Ask your husband how he would handle the situation

In marriage, it’s important not to just accept that different people do things differently, but to embrace it. For example, if my husband criticizes how I clean the bathrooms, I might ask how he would do it. If he criticizes my habit of working on my blogs every second I get, I might ask how he would spend his free time.

Sometimes it helps to hear your husband’s perspective and accept that he would do it differently. You don’t have to change how you do things, but if you give your husband the chance to describe the “best” way, he may back off a little. And perhaps in trying to explain why her way is “better”, she may realize that it really doesn’t matter how it’s done. For example, as long as the dishes get done, does it matter how they’re rinsed and stacked in the dishwasher?

There are many factors that underlie criticism in marriage; this is a very brief, broad overview of how to cope with a critical partner. To get more in-depth information, read Booher’s book Communicate With Confidence.

What to Do Next

How to Cope With a Husband Who Criticizes YouLearn how to cope with verbally abusive marriages. Read The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond by Patricia Evans. Learn why verbal abuse is more widespread in marriage than ever, and how you can deal with an overly critical husband. You’ll get more of the answers you need to recognize abuse when it happens, respond to abusers safely and appropriately, and most important, lead a happier, healthier life..

Consider taking a marriage course. My husband and I are taking a marriage course, and it’s changing how we communicate. If your husband is willing to work on your relationship, I encourage you to seek outside help together..

Learn how to deal with impossible-to-please people – not just critical husbands. Read Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal with People Who Try to Control You by Patricia Evans. A single article will never teach you all you need to know about how to cope with a critical husband. It’s important to learn how to be assertive and stand up for yourself – especially if your husband is controlling or abusive.

Share your experience – if you have any thoughts on coping with a critical husband, please comment below. I won’t tell you what to do; it’s your turn to talk. Express yourself without fear of criticism!

May you go beyond learning how to cope with a critical husband. May you find ways to weave God’s peace and joy into your marriage.

With His love,



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60 thoughts on “How to Cope With a Husband Who Criticizes You

  • Dee

    When my husband goes I to critical mode I call him on it.its mean to pick on a spouse fear or insecurity I fear falling on ice since I broke my wrist doing that last winter. When I first step out into icy terrain…I’m a bit nervous and slow…all he does is tell me I look like an old woman. I reply…why does my nervousness bother you? Are you ashamed of me?
    I just tell him hes mean and should be more understanding….and I leave him to himself. Avoiding his company usually drives the point home. You bully me…you can kiss my company goodbye. When he fi ally notices I’m gone….he realizes
    he was a jerk
    I also point out….you wouldn’t to to a colleague in that way….so give me the same respect please.
    Hes improving …but it’s not a simple linear process

  • Lisa dybala

    My husband constantly criticized me
    I try my best to handle it but we were at friends the other night and we were all talking and joking and I said something about him saying along time ago about him telling me this girl had a better butt then me
    His remark was she did have a better butt
    I couldn’t believe he said it again when he knew how it hurt me the first time

  • Dana

    Is #2 for real?! Just be perfect and your husband won’t have anything bad to say, is basically what you said. We all have our flaws, no? My husband knew I was an unorganized ADHD woman when he married me but decided that he would drain me of any self esteem I ever had by finding error in almost everything I did/do. And then still expects my affection. Never mind that I have forgiven him over and over again for his indiscretions and accepted him for the person he is, even when that person was hurtful to me. I sacficed myself for my marriage. But it probably would have all been ok if I had just been a little bit better for a wife and a mom. Right? The thing is I AM at fault. For not speaking up for myself. For accepting his behavior as love. That’s what I did wrong. Now I’m 12 years and 2 sons in….and wondering what I’ll do now.

  • Lacey

    Regarding “setting yourself up for criticism”… a person who chooses to criticize is responsible for their choice, regardless of the circumstances. Someone who is looking for fault will inevitably find it. Criticism is often used to manipulate future behavior and control the receiver. There are many ways to communicate your preferences to your partner without the use of criticism. Sometimes partners choose not to honor each others’ preferences. Is that ok? Consideration of each others’ preferences is loving, but if the preferences are enforced with consequences… then your partner’s compliant behaviors are made “under duress”. Love without free-choice is not love.

  • Shelly

    How do you deal with a husband that thinks his opinions and how he views things are fact and criticizes you regularly on how you raise your child. (He’s the step dad). He’s even gone so far to say he wants his own kid so he can raise it his own way.
    I’ve listened to his constant complaints & criticisms. He makes juvenile comments like, “did you remember to pack his (my son) nursing blanket?” My son is 12. This in reference to me spending a day out with my son while my husband is at work.
    I’ve tried to have calm, rational discussions with him but he inevitably resorts to making demeaning comments like that.

  • Em

    I do not agree with the statement that we should not set ourselves up for criticism. If we are mothers who have busy lives, disabled children and two other dependents, anxiety and have no family other than his who interfere and who are also critical…. why should we accepting or trying to please him so we get peace and quiet?
    I am constantly critiqued and blamed by my partner and his family…. told what I should be doing or how they do things better! I am constantly told I’m lazy, that I’m no good, I’m useless, my kids hate me, I’m a liar, having my family criticised. Criticised for giving up my ill time job after 5 years to look after my daughter and my disabled son!
    Even my neighbours criticise me, ask me why I’m not in the kitchen cooking dinner at 2pm on a Sunday? I will of conform to what others expect me to be! My partners mum bullies his father, he now has that expectation of every woman, constantly comparing me to his mother… now I get treated like the bully when it’s actually a reflection of his opinion of his mother!
    I have had false allegations made against me because I was fed up of the abuse and threatened to leave with my children! He has therefore covered himself with my daughter. He refused to let me get close to my daughter. He manipulates my son, puts things in his head. He’s unstable and drinks but claims I’m the one that’s out of control, is abusive and a liar when this is him!!!!
    I feel trapped and I refuse to take this constant criticism and abuse…. however I find the more I resist and fight against it the worse it is for me

    • Southern Gal understands

      As a fellow woman, I am so sorry.
      I think you deserve a hug and a friend.
      The first thought that came to my head was,
      ” She must live in the South”
      I moved here from the West Coast and people here are relentless critical , snotty and judgemental about everything. That’s been my experience.
      I was remarried and inherited adult children, one whom still lived with us until a month ago. His family are championship put downers and it has taken me four years to learn creative ways to deal with it.
      It infected my hubby, who has worked hard to change it. I gave him feedback that around them, he is mean spirited and unbearable. He is a Christian, they are not so he has a spirit of trying to work on it.
      Many of the people here tend to make judgemental comments without knowing the story. I don’t bother with them, and try to be polite as I can and blunt when I have to be or they cross a line.
      It’s interesting how they are most concerned about superficial things, and less about actually moral behavior.
      I just wanted you to know I prayed for you, and want you to know that others go through this too. You do not deserve to be picked on.
      I also wanted to suggest if there was any way you could join a support group for co- dependancy you might benefit and feel support. There might possibly be some shifts you could make to get some control back.

  • Strawberry

    Something in this article that really got me was “shoddy work” if I am doing shoddy work around the home…why is he the judge of that? Why is my work under scrutiny? This bothers me. I dont go to my husband’s job and scrutinize his work. But he comes home and tears mine down. He travels with his job and I am home with 4 kids(we have 6 2 are grown) 2 under 3 and I’m pregnant. When he is here he will do some dishes…complaining or pointing out he has done these things the whole time….he has never bathed our youngest children he has never woke with them in the middle of the night, he does however put down my ability to keep the house “clean” his version cuz in my opinion our home is clean but lived in by many children. He criticizes me for not making his coffee, lunches for work, and any other thing he thinks I should be doing the minute he blows into town. He is an adult. He really should act like one and his judgement on whether our home is shoddy or not is really just cruel and instead he should just pitch in and be part of a team the 3 nights and 2 days a week he is home and not require accolades or praise for it this is his home and his children too. I dont think I should own his judgements.

  • Luann

    My husband is either criticisizing me or talking in a disapproving tone of voice. And yet, I ask for help and he refuses. He helps his friends but not me, or his mother. He had 2 affairs in the past 2 years. I told him we are going to separate and he doesn’t want to separate. Who will do his laundry? Pay his bills? Find things he has lost? Cook supper? Do his disability paperwork? Etc. He doesn’t get it that it is over! I have to wait a couple months when our financial situation improves, and I will either serve him separation papers or divorce papers. Oh, he got a big tattoo of my name on his chest, and still had another affair after that. That is now laughable to me.

  • PJ

    After reading your suggestions, I realize you do not have a severely critical husband! I’ve been married for 40 years, and have done everything from agree with him, disagree wirh him, argue with him, and laugh at him. The fact is, critical men like my husband, are toxic, and quite insecure. Once I realized that, it became easier to deal with him. I don’t have all the answers, obciously, but I have learned the following for self-preservation and survival: 1) Stand your ground, though the heavens fall. 2) If he criticizesthe way I vacumn, mop, or some other chore, I demand he do it better! 3) When he takes all the food out of the refrigerator to mock my purchasing decisions, (“You made terrible decisions regarding what foods to buy this week, for example, this tomato may go bad soon!”) then I demand he do all the food purchases for the next week. 4) If he critices my wardrobe, I ask him why he hasn’t bought me something more appealing. 5) When he tells me I shouldn’t leave the house, so I can vacumn “better” the second time today, I tell him I’m leaving so he can contemplate my vacumn swirl patterns on his own! 6) I will never allow him to feel superior by belittling me. He has to fix his toxic problems himself. I am not going to be his whipping boy, or his scapegoat. He needs to own his own behavior. 7)A couple days ago he criticized me for standing in front of him in a restaurant line. I left the line, and got a table. He had to order both our meals by himself. All the customers were staring at him. He deserved it. And 8) the time and place to stand up to a critical bully is immediaately, not later. NEVER procrastinate confrontation when it comes to a bully.


        This true we have to stand up to bullies. My last criticize today a minute ago telling me I laugh to loud and it sounds like a skreech. Rude and annoying. I stood up to him like usual but he gets even more defensive it’s all my fault I’m sick of it! If I could beat his add or bash his face in i would. No need to say I laugh to loud. In my own home comfortable watching the world series. I hate him. Why am I still here?

    • Jee

      Your tactics may seem very good and useful for now but in the long run you lose yourself. One day you will wake up and discover that the sweet part of you is gone!

  • Pauline

    “For instance, if you’re disorganized and unprepared for a family gathering or important event, then you’re setting yourself up to be criticized by your spouse. If you continually do things you know will upset or frustrate your husband, then you’re inviting criticism.” I CAN NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS STATEMENT HAS COME FROM THE AUTHOR OF THIS WEBSITE! Horrifying! If you are juggling a demanding job, children, & possibly the care of elderly relatives – why should the “wife” be the one to be “ORGANISED! Surely, in the modern world, the man of the house should take joint responsibility for these things. If you’re a stay-at-home wife with no other responsibilities, then fine, I agree. However, what about the things that men fall down on – the garbage not taken out, the garden overgrown, all the jobs around the house that need to be done …. Are they not setting themselves up for criticism too? We need some measure of equality here!!

    • Sharon

      I agree with you about that statement about husbands who are critical. What happened to being yourself, why should my husband control my habits? I don’t control his as he does what he wants which never includes helping out around the house or outside as well.

    • G

      What universe do you live in where “the only thing” a stay at home mom has to do is housework? Let me know, because I would love to move there. I work far harder,physically and hourly as a SAHM than I ever did when I worked full time in an office. That was an 8 hour day-being a SAHM is 24/7, with no vacation or sick days, or even a thank you. For example, I presently am driving, running errands, caring for my special needs child, cooking, cleaning, repairing whatever needs to be fixed, including the plumbing, on a pair of crutches because I have a broken foot and a spouse who works in another state. I can’t just take a sick day and put up my foot, while still getting paid for not working, because 1. There’s no one else, 2. If my spouse was home, I would still be doing most of it. , and 3. I don’t GET paid, ha ha! Or even thanked. So please spare me the flippancy about how stay at home moms should have perfect homes because that’s all they have to do (and you know that’s what you meant.) You couldn’t manage one day in my world. Now excuse me….I have a box of bon bons to eat and some soap operas to watch while my spouse works himself to death @@.

  • Laurie Post author

    Yes, there is something you can do to cope with a husband who criticizes you! Here’s the first step: read the Boundaries books by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

    Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

    Boundaries in Marriage

    These are excellent books on how to recognize when you’re being unfairly criticized by your husband, and how to stand up for yourself. You’ll learn when to say yes and when to say no to your husband and to others, how to make the most of your marriage even if you’re married to a critical husband.

    “Only when a husband and wife know and respect each other’s needs, choices, and freedom can they give themselves freely and lovingly to one another,” writes Cloud and Townsend. “Boundaries are the “property lines” that define and protect husbands and wives as individuals.”

    And, then you need to practice the boundaries you set with your husband! First, though, read those books. They can change your marriage and your life – if you actually use the information and do the work.

    • Trish

      These are excellent book suggestions. I have read them both and they are helpful. It takes practice to learn new wags to relate, so be patient with your self. No only is the critical person not healthy, but the codependent person must learn new ways of reaponding and coping with this toxic feedback.

  • Linda

    My husband is a perfectionist. Almost everything I do is not good enough for him. He criticises me in sports we play together, the way I clean the house, the way I put in the dining chairs…the list goes on. For example, he likes the dinning chairs to be lined up perfectly and can’t understand why I wouldn’t do it. The problem is, I have tried to lined them up perfectly and from my point of view, they are. But not to him, he can always see the millimetre difference between those chairs and can’t believe how bad I am. I tried to see it from his point of view, trying to understand the frustration that he must experience when he sees a job “not done well” but it is so very very tiring. And when he constantly criticises me for really little things like how I’d wipe dust off tables, it is very difficult to see it from his point of view. To me, he is nick picking but to him, he is trying to help me improve. We bicker constantly over his criticism of me and I sometimes fly into a rage. I’m so tired of this. Is there anything I can do?

    • Pauline

      Leave him! I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but your husband is the one with the problem – not you! Why does he feel you need “to improve”? You married each other – warts and all. Does he have no faults? I’m sure he does. It’s just that you don’t choose, or have the need, to point them out to him. So why does he feel the need to point out your supposed faults to you? I would suggest that he is incredibly insecure in his relationship with you, and this is manifesting itself in a controlling issue i.e. if he can make you do everything “his” way, you will be totally under his control. Think about this carefully, and try to think “outside the box” which is very difficult when you can’t see the wood from the trees. If this is the case, you need to re-think the entire relationship.

    • lyn

      Sounds like a narcissistic husband, it has to be his way, controlling and ocd to top it off. I can plainly see it because I live with one and after 14 1/2 years I’m to the point where I don’t even respond to his criticism, my husband sometimes comes home and say gees the rugs are filthy (we have 5 golden retrievers). Men are just big babies in a big boy suit…they always feel the right and you wont change their mind. I’ve learned the hard way… the only way to cope with a controlling husband is to fight to the death or get a divorce.

  • Mini

    I feel this all the time that he doesnt like anything about me. To some extent I agree with him, he wants me to change for good and at the same time, he is a perfectionist and we are 2 different people. He wants me to become like him. We have known each other for 8 years now and he has evolved a lot for good in the recent years but I am not. He gets frustrated at me all the time because I am a bad cook, I dont take care of myself( I am a mom of 1 year old), I look horrible all the time, I dont know how to wear make up or dress nicely, not responsible to take care of house holds stuff, you name it— EVERYTHING !! And he wants me to change everything about myself and I am not changing, this criticizm is rather effecting my self confidence and motivation to do anything in life.. 🙁 I feel depressed all the time and I just dont think anything about my career but rather how to please him even that also I cannot do. I am losing it all the way.. My LO is 1 year old and I am having second one in 4 weeks and not able to figure out if I can handle everything or not.. I have now believed that I have some kind of disorder so I need to see a phycologist or something as my husband says 🙁

    • KJ

      I am in the same boat Mini. I’m so sick of him criticizing me and then when I get mad he blames me and tells me I’m psycho and need to take meds.

  • hugh

    Hi all, I am amazed to read many of these sad posts and see the same behavioural issues. I would urge all to start to learn about “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. It is a classic case of good people falling in love with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Criticism is a cancer to the soul and we can only fight it for so long, the cure is escape or be destroyed by it. Marriage is supposed to double your blessings and half your troubles, not the other way around. Most critics are insecure bullies that put others down to pufd themselves up. Their victims are slowly drained of their energy and vitality, for who can fight everyday ? A note to all who may read this in the future, narcissists disguise their criticism as helpful advice but in truth they are bitter, skilled liars and they DO NOT CHANGE !! I pray that the victims of constant criticism, read up about Narcissists abuse, learn about their behavioural tactics and game playing and ultimately make plans to escape to fine a better life. Narcissists are like Cancer, deadly and impossible to live with. Its them or you. May god bless, protect and strengthen you all.

    • Jee

      You are spot on! Most women are yet to know that that critic is a actually a narcissist. I was a victim, almost lost my mind before I found courage to escape. I am still healing after 2 years and half of escape but I know God will perfect it all.

  • Katie

    I’ve been married for 45 years to a critical man. He criticizes me and our two sons, but is Mr. Popular with all his colleagues. Example: Last evening we were going to a dressy event (I’ve had to go to hundreds over the years and am sick of them, but since I was his driver for the evening I knew I had to go). Anyway, got dressed up in a very nice dress that I’d worn recently to a wedding. We started walking out the door and he said, “Hey, are you gaining weight? You look pudgy in that dress. Why can’t you wear something more flattering.” Well, I am a 68 year old woman. I’m not thin and will never be thin. I’m healthy and certainly not morbidly obese. In fact, I looked pretty darn good. This time I did not bite my tongue. He does this to me EVERY TIME we are going to an event. It ruins my mood and makes me feel bad about myself. I let him have it this time. I asked him why he had the need to do this to me just as we are walking out the door. No good answer. He kept his mouth shut and listened to me for 45 minutes as I drove to the event. I was steaming. Finally, he apologized so I let it go. The evening was more enjoyable than I thought it would be and my mood was much lighter. Then…he turned to a woman seated at the table next to us. She was a bit on the chunky side and was wearing a dress slit under her arms, showing part of her sagging breasts. It wasn’t a very attractive dress and she didn’t look that great in it. (Not being critical, just making a point for what comes next.) My husband said to her, “Wow, …you sure look great. What are you doing? You look so much younger.” He then turned back to me and said, “She liked that. Women like to be complimented.” You guessed it. I blew up again and he heard about THAT all the way home. My point to him was, “You were more concerned with how a woman feels that you barely know than you were for your wife’s feelings, and we’ve been together 45 years through tons of bad and good times. Think about that awhile.” I really doubt that it will have any affect on the way he treats me, I feel much better finally standing up for myself. I always kept quiet instead of saying anything rather than risk starting a big argument, but I’m not going to keep quiet anymore.

    • barbie

      GOOD FOR YOU!! I kept mymouth shut for way too long and all that did was make him and my children more emboldened to speak down to me. Then I realized that you get the respect that you demand. I never demanded it I would just feel sorry for myself and I let too many good years go by. I also have a successful husband I have been a stay at home mom for our children and he took advantage of that sacrifice I made,and walked all over me.I also have to take partial blame as I should have been standing up for my self better ,anyways.
      Now I realize he did this because he is unhappy inside and kept me emotionally unbalanced this is how he controlled me. He would flirt with other women never really complimented me unless he wanted sex. He would tell me how unhappy he was even since our honeymoon he has been threatening divorce. I have stuck it out for 23 years the ass even told his parents years ago that he was only staying with me until kids were gone.There is so much I could say that he has done which is so much worse that I cannot put in writing,BUT I am still
      here I am a survivor and it sounds like you are as well.It seems like you have found your voice. Keep using it make it loud and clear to him whenever he crosses the line you need to make it very unpleasant for him. I know this sounds harsh but narcissistic borderline personalities need harsh reality or they will not stop.It is obvious that he can be cival to others because the stakes are high enough for him to behave . So it will be a fight they do not like to be challenged as you experienced.You are going to have to removew yourself emotionally from the situation . This is the key to your success bacause they thrive on keeping you emotionally crazy ,sad, upset….. it makes them fell powerful. You can do it I have and am making headway with my spouse .It has been a year I thought at times I could not do it anymore but with prayer and not without God I am making a difference in my home.I am not saying it is going to be easy but when he realizes you are not going to go for the status quo anymore he has two choices 1. Leave 2. Attempt to make it harder on you as was my case ,and as I did not back down ,he is finally coming around and pulling the B.S. as much and I do not give him an inch you are training him as he was training you for all these years. It will take time and effort on your part. but it wil be worth it ,as he will become a better man under your guidance Lol………

  • Goitsy

    I have been reading a lot about marriage conflict. I have noticed a trend in how (especially on christian sites) the advice is to ”just be a better, bigger person” and it will all stop. What a way to victim blame. If your husband continuously criticises you, he is an insecure jerk (not sorry). You do not have to stay. You can try to be better all you want nut He has to be a responsible human and treat you accordingly. The burden placed on already abused people to ”turn the other cheek” is horrendous…urgh

  • Lisa

    The article was helpful. Thanks for the tips and extra reading material. I may purchase some of them. My husband is very picky about many things. He can also be hard on himself many times. He is not a perfectionist as is shown in his cleaning/organizing skills. For the most part, he is a good husband/father but what infuriates me the most is his poor judgment of when and what to criticize. Many times he criticizes things that he himself does poorly. An example would be this morning when I had insomnia as I often do, and got up at around 2:30 am to work on homework for my degree. I also looked at Facebook some. However, I get up earlier every day just to help him by cooking breakfast, preparing his lunch, etc. I also drive a school bus, am responsible for getting everyone else up, do all the laundry, housework, errands, shopping, & cooking. But he lays in bed until the last minute and is irritated when he is late like this morning. Yes I could have gotten started a little earlier, but instead of criticizing if he would just get his butt up and help it would go over a lot better.

  • Justina

    I have read this article before and it was interesting to me, but I wish my friend would have read it also. On Monday, her critical and controlling husband shot her twice and beat her w/a baseball bat until she died. She was only 30 years old. She was such a sweet, smart, and funny person. I don’t know if her success intimidated her husband, but that still is no excuse. He did this horrific thing right in front of their 10 year old son. I am sharing this b/c I hope I can reach any woman who is in domestic violence and suffers a sever controlling, critical spouse that you feel you have no escape from. You can get out, you just have to talk! She hid all of this from everyone .. no one knew that he was at such a rage. Now she is dead and her husband is in jail. I feel so sorry for their son. Domestic violence is not a joke.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    I’ll definitely keep you in my prayers! It sounds like your marriage is a struggle, and your husband is so critical of you. I’m sorry you’re going through this….I wish I had the magic words to ease your pain and solve your problems.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you…I pray for strength, healing, peace, and joy in your life. May you find wisdom and guidance, hope and grace. May God’s love fill your life and lead you in the direction you need to go.

  • Hurt

    I feel like my marriage is in trouble. I don’t know how to talk to my husband anymore. We have been married 9 years now. He is not the same man he was when we dated. He was affectionate, always told me I was beautiful and so on. Soon after we married, it all changed. The first 2 years were terrible. I suppose because back then I was different. I had confidence. I stood up for myself, and wasn’t afraid to have an opinion. Now I shake and stutter when we visit friends or his family. Over the years I’ve learned in order to keep the peace, to say what I think he would want me to say..or say nothing at all. I try to do everything I can for him to make him happy and avoid arguments. Take care of the kids, cook, clean, everything a house wife should do. I pUT his needs before mine and help him with his truck or yard work or whatever I can to avoid getting criticized. Always tell him I love him. If I don’t say it, he won’t. Then everyone we get together with he tells them I don’t have sex with him. ( I’ve lost all desire) he tells them it’s my fault our vehicle broke down because I suggested 5 years ago when we bought it that we shouldn’t get another expensive vehicle we couldn’t afford. It’s my fault we don’t attend church. (I’ve suggested we go many times) it’s my fault when the kids misbehave. I’m pathetic for wanting it cooler in the house. I’m “retarded ” for not being able to figure out the simplest things in math. (Upgrading my schooling). But he can be sweet. He’s not all bad. I’ve learned that if I stand up for myself, things get a bit out of hand. About 3 years ago I decided to stand up for myself and ended up literally getting dragged out of the house in the rain with no shoes. No phone. No jacket. And no this did not happen I. Front of the kids. he tells me all the time he wants me to talk to him. I’m afraid to. Long story I know, but I’ve lost all of my personal friends, aND I’m left with no one to talk to b/c he has everyone convinced I’m the bad one. I know I’m not innocent. I believe it takes 2. I guess I just needed to vent and pass along my story. I pray everyday for our marriage and I hope if you read this, you will do the same. God bless you and thank u for taking ur time to read this.

    • Pam

      Dear Mrs. Hurt, I’m sorry ur going through so much pain. Your husband needs God and the holy spirit to fill him with love, not only love towards his wife but also towards life.
      He sounds like a terrible person… I hope you guys can start to get along well, that he values you more and that you start start loving yourself. Wishing u all the best.

    • Trish

      Dear Hurt: Thank you for sharing this personal and painful reality that you live in every day. In a situation like this, you NEED outside help. I realize its been a very long time since you wrote this, but I hope you got help by now. One place to get help is by trying to find a free Christian counselor at a church. You need someone trustworthy that you can talk to outside the home. A man who is behaving the way your husband is needs some kind of wake up call to grow. He continues to act the way he does because he can. Find someone safe to talk to and you then can create a plan to help you and your children find peace.. Ask God for direction to your next step. If you love your husband, your getting help is a way to show him. Continuing in this relationship the way it is, hurts you and your children.
      I went to get help, and it was a long process. He did not change, but I did. I invited him to go get help with me, which he choose not to do, but that was his decision. You can not change him, but you can learn about healthy boundaries. Find out if your area has any Celebrate Recovery Groups.. I was in a group for about 2 years and found it very helpful. Pray for your husband as well to have a soft heart and go forward in doing what you need to do for your spiritual growth and for your children. You are worth fighting for. Dont suffer in silence.

      I was married to someone like this and I understand how oppressive and stressful it is to live with constant fear.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Lisa, thank you for your comment and insight! I especially admire your willingness to learn, and to improve yourself and your marriage.

    You’re right; there is less information on how to stop being critical. Much more info about how to cope with a critical spouse or criticism in marriage.

    I wrote this article to help you and all of us learn how to be less critical in our marriages:

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts.

  • Lisa

    My husband often accuses me of being critical of him, but I’m not doing it intentionally and I don’t see how I’m being critical. Everything written is written for people who need to deal with critical people, but I haven’t found anything written for critical people on how not to be critical. What advice can you give me? I’m willing to learn, I just need a teacher.

  • Jenna

    These are some really great tips! My husband is a cynical, critical type of guy by nature. His father is the same way and he is following the same path.
    His father critiques his mother all the time. He goes back and forth between being affectionate and withdrawn. My husband is the same way.
    We are newly married with a baby. I feel my husband is a good provider and dependable. I am going to wait it out and continue to follow the tips for not inviting criticism. My husband ironically enough can’t handle critism at all.
    Our disagreements are about how to raise our son. How I feed the baby, etc.
    I just hate the withdrawing of love and affection when my husband feels he is right. He is just like the chip off the old block.

    • Karen

      I am sadden to hear your story. It reminds me a little of my marriage of 15 years. My husband is also very cynical and critical. His father was the same way as well. His mother either ignored or accommodated his constant criticism. My husband is also rude to his sisters and ignores his mother. Unfortunately, I saw some warning signs when we were dating and ignored them. That is my biggest regret. Now we have two boys (8 and 10) and my husband constantly criticizes and insults them. I have tried to reason with him, argue with him, and insist he to go to counseling but nothing as worked. The verbal and emotional abuse makes me sick. My husband and I have no emotional connection. I literally cannot stand to be around him. I wish I could leave with my boys, but he is so vindictive that he would make our divorce and co-parenting a nightmare. I believe he would be even more verbally abusive with my boys and I would not be there to stop him.

      Since you are newly married with a young child, I highly encourage you to insist that your spouse get counseling and change or you get out! You do not want to allow his behavior to continue because he will not stop and he will end up abusing your child/ren. Please take care of yourself and your baby.

    • Trish

      Dear Helen,
      I dont know if you have ever been constantly criticized in an intimate relationship; I have and yes, it is indeed , a form of verbal and emotional abuse. Due to the fact that every person is very unique in what they consider criticism, and the level their spirit can tolerate it, the effects range in severity.
      Criticism is different from feedback . It attempts to hurt, to cut down and demean another person. Feedback is respectfully asking for change in something, or someone’s behavior and doesn’t disrespect the person. It builds up and doesn’t tear down.
      Many families have abusive type patterns that are handed down from generation to generation , so they see it as , “normal ” ways of coping. Only when they understand how damaging it is to those they love, will they decide to do it differently. Some people who habitually verbally abuse people through criticism lose jobs, spouses and have children that never speak to them again. The consequences are very serious. I have never met anyone who lived with someone who constantly criticized them who said they loved it. It always creates deep emotional pain.
      Our World, as a whole, promotes cutting people down. In the work place , folks that bully, berate and cut others down, are often given jobs as bosses and leaders. There are certain professions where this a part of the job culture. I think many people who have jobs where they are constantly being bullied at work, and have had to survive in a rough situations by acting tough and mean, carry this into their homes without realizing it.
      Building a safe and loving personal relationship requires different skills than perhaps they are used to using. Your wife or husband should be a refuge from the storm, not the The world is stressful and scary, your home should not be. The world is full of critics who will tear you down and do not care how you feel. You spouse should. We all go out into a hard world where it is tough to survive, your spouse should be your best friend, not your worse critic.

  • sunny

    My name is Sunny. I’ve married the love of my life 11 months ago. She is sweet, fun, loving, a crowd pleaser, confident, everything I want in a woman. We both have traditional families and therefore have not lived together until after we were married. She doesn’t take things too seriously, and has a passive technique to dealing with situations. I am the critical, over analyzing, hard working (always keeping myself busy), boring guy in the relationship (too black and white). I feel like I have the best ideas/solutions to a problem and everyone else around me is inferior. HOW CAN I LET THIS GO!? I don’t want to push her away in fact I want to nurture her so that she can feel on top of the world when in fact I bring her down in stressed out situations (because I am overly impatient and frusterated in these times). I don’t want to seek a counselor or psychiatrist to deal with my issues because I feel I should have the power to overcome it by my own willpower. I pray to God to give me the courage to change. It’s like “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but I HAVE to for her. I love her deeply and it hurts me when I react this way. I always end up saying sorry and it becomes meaningless. Wish this loser some luck.

    • Trish

      Dear Heavenly Father,
      I thank -you for this couple you put together. Thank you, Holy Spirit, the humble and open attitude of this husband who clearly understands his wife’s sensitive nature and his own flaw of being hyper critical, especially when he is feeling frustrated and impatient. This revealation is a gift to them.
      Show him specially what else he can do when he senses that his mood is shifting into impatience and critical hard heartness. Give her awareness of this mood shift and how she can relate to him in those moments.
      Place others in their lives who have walked through dynamics similar who can support them both in their journey together.
      protect this Union from anything that seeks to destroy it. work in their hearts to bond them through this instead of letting it tear them apart”

      I have a husband very similar to you.

    • Trish

      Dear Heavenly Father,
      I thank -you for this couple you put together. Thank you, Holy Spirit, the humble and open attitude of this husband who clearly understands his wife’s sensitive nature and his own flaw of being hyper critical, especially when he is feeling frustrated and impatient. This revealation is a gift to them.
      Show him specially what else he can do when he senses that his mood is shifting into impatience and critical hard heartness. Give her awareness of this mood shift and how she can relate to him in those moments.
      Place others in their lives who have walked through dynamics similar who can support them both in their journey together.
      protect this Union from anything that seeks to destroy it. work in their hearts to bond them through this instead of letting it tear them apart”

      I have a husband very similar to you. I am blessed by your willingness to take responsibility for your critical spirit and not just blame her for not taking it the way you want her to, or judging her for being too sensitive. My husband knows outright blunt criticism is wrong and has began to try and package what he says in a manipulative wrapper , but I get the drift, because what he says doesn’t make sense.
      I too love my husband and pray we both can open our hearts and work it out, otherwise, I don’t want to stay in a marriage where I feel nit picked and judged unfairly when I make mistakes or need extra patience because I am going through something. I don’t do this to him.
      Praying for both of us, and your marriage.

    • Zelda

      You say you’ll do anything…but you won’t get counseling? So anything but counseling. That’s basically saying you won’t do anything. You are a human. Sometimes you will need help. God doesn’t just say “POOF, you are a better person” God wants you to do the work. That MAY mean reaching out and admitting you need help. Obviously, this is the root of your problem. You even are feeling superior to psychologists? Not trying to be rude but kinda just using your words. You practice at patience. If being patient came naturally to everyone then we’d have world peace. If she’s worth it then walk the road you chose when you married her and do what you said because that was very admirable saying that you want to lift her up, that was very sweet.

      • Trish

        That is so right, Zelda. When we surrender to Christ, He often leads us to do things, like seek counseling, that are out of our comfort zone. When we pray about it, our hearts change and we are led to take action to help solve issues. Celebrate recovery is a great and free support for those seeking to change. When we are willing, God leads us to whatever will help us grow. Since I last wrote this about my husband, I have seen God do amazing things in my marriage and in my husband. He , llike Sunny, had a willingness to change and saw the negative effects upon our marriage. He has changed , done like a 360 reverse in his attitude. He is a Christian and asks God to help him. Its such a blessing to me. I feel so much more secure and content in our marriage now. There is hope, God can change us.

    • hannah

      Just keep praying and loving her, it’s okay to voice a concern or some criticism if you truly believe she could benefit and even while you’re still progressing still show her you love her because she’s not perfect and neither are you. My husband only speaks to me when he has something critical to say or anything that’s need to know information. Even with this I love him more than words can describe I don’t know how he seems very capable of cutting me out completely but for me I still want to work on our marriage but I think he’s done. So even if you critique Sunny if she knows it’s coming from a point of love and that you still love her she will be fine.

  • Chien Timide

    Thanks! It’s nice when you look a topic up and find a source who has good, practical, and positive answers. I’m not in a relationship, nor do I want one at my age other than my pup, yet I was on the phone for over an hour yet another friend needing to vent, and way past my bedtime ;). Venting has it’s place, and I know advising isn’t my job, but gently suggesting something positive may keep me from feeling “Yuck” afterwards. I’m going to “borrow” your lovely way of approaching problems. And thanks, I feel better now 😀 !

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    One of the best ways to cope with a critical husband is to find external sources of support. I would talk to a counselor, and learn ways to deal with his statements and attacks. My tips for coping with criticism in marriage are good for general advice, but aren’t for specific situations.

    Talk to a counselor. Learn ways to cope with criticism – and how to NOT let your husband ruin your self-esteem or self-confidence.

    And, connect with God! If you are centered on His love, grace, compassion, forgiveness, and power….it won’t matter how critical your husband is. You will have a core of strength that won’t be shaken. God will help you know what to do about your marriage – and He would not want you to stay in a marriage that is critical or abusive.

  • Justina

    My husband is a perfectionist and very critical. I opened an auto shop w/him, and I think I do good work, but nothing is ever up to par w/him. We have been together almost 5 years, but married only 2, and I am just about fed up. I love him very much, but we are two different personalities. He is smothering and I am independent. He is suffocating and I am hostile. We both have trust issues and our communication sucks .. We need help, but he doesn’t believe in doctors/counselors or medicine even. He is very co-dependant and I am the people pleaser.

  • Curious cat

    I have a question. I am married to one of the best men in the world. He always wants to be with me. But, he criticizes my cooking, driving, way I dress and my family (granted they have been cruel to him and me). He no longer puts his arms around me in the kitchen or looks at me with lust. I realize we are both getting older, we just turned 50. Do I have anything to worry about. I have been feeling lonely lately.

  • Laurie Post author

    I’m sorry I missed your comment, fukyo! How did you deal with your critical husband? Did you leave him, or did he become less criticizing of you and your marriage?

  • fukyo

    hi laurie, your post was very interesting. i live with an extremely critical/judgemental spouse. only thing is, he is NOT aware of it! he thinks he’s only trying to “help me”, but telling me to chew my food or criticizing me for not wiping the fingerprints off the cabinets (and millions of other things on a daily basis) is driving me to consider leaving him.
    seems like nothing i do is good enough. yet in his lucid moments he realizes how much i mean to him and how “perfect” i am. if he would only stop cutting me down with 3 out of 4 things he says.
    i’ve tried many times to bear it, support it, gently tell him to stop, angrily tell him to stop, criticize back and many other approaches. nothing works.
    i am near the end of my rope. ready to leave marriage.
    except i do love him, and wonder if i am throwing the baby out with the bath water…
    any enlightening thoughts on the matter?
    thank you!

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Nikki,

    I’m very sorry you feel lost, and that the marriage article made you cry! Is it because your husband is critical?

    Yes, you can tell me your story here. Sometimes writing can help you clarify your thoughts and figure out how you feel about stuff – and it can even help you find solutions. But, I can’t give you advice or tell you want to do in your life or marriage.

    Are you sure you can’t talk to someone in person – a friend or family member? I can’t believe they’ve all done you wrong in big ways…surely there is someone you can reach out to?

    I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful, but I think it’s really important that you reach out to someone in person. If you have no friends or family, please call a distress line or a free help line.

    And, please feel free to share your story here. I can’t give you marriage or life advice, but as I said, sometimes it helps to just share how you feel!


  • nikki

    I have read some of your tips on marriages and being criticized and i found them very intrusting…The marriage one made me cry i must admit, because i do not know what to do almost everything on there is happening or has been for a while. I was just wondering if i could tell you my story and see if you would beable to maybe give me some tips.. I do not know what to do anymore i do not have money i have 2 children both 3 and 6 months, i have no one to talk to because they have all done me wrong in big ways… please help me i feel so lost.