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Hearing the longing in the complaint

August 16, 2013

Here’s a great idea…
In his book, 10 Lessons That Will Transform Your Marriage, John Gottman tells us to,
“look for the longing in each other’s complaints” (p. 19).

In other words…
If we can get past the words and tone of our partners’ complaints and can practice compassion, we may see and understand the underlying feelings that prompted the complaint. They may be trying to make requests of us. Rather than react defensively, we can tune in to their longing and strengthen our relationships.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…
Don’t take a complaint as an attack. Your partner’s complaint may be a plea for understanding. For example, if the complaint is “You never cook anymore,” you could argue that you cooked once last week. But that misses the point. Choose instead to ask whether your partner would like to have more home-cooked meals. Search for ways to help your spouse feel loved and cared for.

To find out more…
about couple relationships, check out The Marriage Garden or the Getting Our Hearts Right program at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also like to read 10 Lessons That Will Transform Your Marriage

  1. August 18, 2013 1:02 pm

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  2. August 19, 2013 8:32 pm

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