My Wife Is So Critical – What Can I Do?

I talk to men all the time who say “My wife is so critical Why? What can I do to make her relax so we can get back to having an awesome time together again..?”

Have you ever heard this quote?

“You Teach People How to Treat You”

It’s been around since the first caveman got knocked in the head with a club.

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He had to figure out how to keep THAT from happening again.

And the idea of “boundaries” was born.

But why do we still suck at defining and enforcing boundaries?

Why do we still complain about “how we’re being treated”?

Simple. We’ve been brainwashed to avoid conflict and to be overly cooperative.

We’ve been TRAINED by our recent “nice guy” (and “nice gal”) ancestors to tolerate bad behavior…to just get along and not rock the boat.

Well, I think that’s a recipe for a crappy life and miserable relationships.

We must take responsibility for how people treat us by standing strong in the standards we expect for ourselves.

In this video I tell the story of a client who took 1 YEAR to teach his wife to stop criticizing and verbally insulting him in front of the kids.

YouTube video

What do you do when someone is being incredibly disrespectful and rude?

Maybe they’re in your face, challenging you, questioning your behavior?

And people put up with this all the time.

A lot of people never have boundaries for anything, and if they do, they’re afraid to defend them because they’re scared of hurting the other person’s feelings or afraid of looking like a jerk.

So we talk to guys about how to train your wife in how you want her to treat you.

One example that guys complain about A LOT is a boundary they say she’s crossing around disrespectful and unkind treatment.

I had one guy who spent an entire year trying to train her to stop criticizing him in front of the children.

“Oh, look at daddy Isn’t he stupid? Why do you always do that? That’s so dumb. I can’t believe you did that. Look, kids isn’t daddy dumb!”

She was commenting all the time on him.

And he couldn’t take it any more.

He kept saying “I need to get a divorce. This is unbelievable. Her grandmother does it. Her mother does it to her dad, and she does it to me.”

But all he did was complained to me about it the whole time we were coaching, so I told him, “You’re gonna have to spend as long as it takes to consistently defend the boundary for critical treatment.”

What he had to do is get very, very clear and deliberate about what his boundary was.

So he decided that he was going to make it a non-negotiable boundary. That when she became rude and disrespectful, and toxically critical of him in front of the children, he would stand up to it.

But the old way he stood up to it was to yell, scream, fight, argue, whine and cry, lash out verbally and criticize her back.

That doesn’t work with horses and it doesn’t work with women either.

So I explained that what he needed to do is, every single time she comes in and gets mean, snarky, critical and starts getting up close and in his face, he had to say “What you’re doing is not OK for me. How you’re talking to me is unacceptable, it’s destructive, it’s unhealthy, it doesn’t make me feel good, and it’s bad for our marriage. So I need you to stop that. Hey, kids, let’s go.” Then change the subject.

When you set a boundary like this you can’t care how long it takes…consistency is KEY!

I didn’t want him to get into an argument.

In the past he woukd say:

Why do you do that?

How can you do that?

How could you always do this in front of the kids?

How could you make me look so bad?

He kept asking questions instead of making a statement.

“That right there, that disrespectful, critical rude treatment of me in front of the kids is unacceptable. You really need to stop. It’s not good for the marriage and it’s not good for the kids.”

After about three months, he said to me, “Nothing’s changed. She hasn’t changed at all. She just keeps going.”

So I said, “You need to keep doing it, for six months, eight months…”

And he finally said at the end of a year, she stopped doing it.

He said that she didn’t even talk about it. She just stopped.

He could see that every time she was about to say something disrespectful or critical in front of the kids. She would bite her tongue.

So he emailed me.

He said, “You won’t believe this, she turned it off like a faucet. But it took 12 months. I didn’t think this was gonna work. But it did!”

What worked was that he didn’t fight her.

He didn’t try to criticize her back or defend himself and complain about it.

All he had to do was be consistent.

That toxic critical, attacking behavior in the family and in front of the kids was unacceptable.

You see, the thing is that she grew up in that kind of environment. She thought this was normal.

She thought there was really nothing wrong with how she was treating him, but it was incredibly toxic to him.

It’s incredibly toxic to most people.

He had to realize that he had to stop being unkind and inconsiderate and thoughtless and critical himself FIRST because you can’t enforce boundaries that you yourself are crossing.

This is something we make sure men understand when they get into this work.

We make sure that you are consistently in a place of DEMONSTRATING the value that you want to uphold.

So if you have a boundary around somebody criticizing you, make sure that you have not been a critical person FIRST.

You can’t just set up a boundary when you’ve been doing it too.

You can’t expect someone to stop immediately when you set a boundary for the first time either.

So this takes some patience and some time.

This is what we work on with men in our coaching programs and retreats.

We talk about boundaries, we talk about how to lead, how to be more attractive, how to connect, how to bond, but also how to stand up for yourself with confidence and maturity in a grounded calm way so that people can respect you back.

We train other people just as we train horses in how to treat us, it’s up to us to define the boundaries, and to calmly defend them.

We’d love to have you join our community of men learning these life changing skills.

It’s one of the most amazing experiences, learning how to lead yourself and the people you love.

“You Reap What You Sow”

That’s another good quote and an important point when it comes to setting boundaries.

We can’t just go around declaring our boundaries and “teaching people how to treat us” if we’re total dicks.

You’re in no position to teach anyone anything until you’ve learned the lessons yourself

In the case of the criticizing wife, if you have been frustrated, argumentative and negative toward her behavior you’re in no condition to start setting boundaries.

You’ll need to slow down and reset yourself while gently bringing up the values you want for BOTH of you to start sharing.

The man in the story I shared above figured this out early on and he stayed patient, clear and proud of how he handled himself. That was the only reason his wife eventually changed her critical behavior toward him.

I want you to become a NINJA at this!

This isn’t a secret trick or even a “tool”.

This is more than a mind set.

This is a LIFESTYLE of calmly knowing who you are, what you believe, what you want and how you’re creating the life and relationship you want.

This is a lifestyle of less drama and less conflict…followed by more connection and more respect.

And when it comes to teaching you how to change yourself and your relationship “lifestyle” there is no better place to learn than with other men who know the way.

The Men’s Live Coaching Roundtable is a powerful collection of men from around the world working together to transform themselves and their relationships. Dan Dore and I lead this community with 5 other professional coaches. We have live coaching video calls twice per month. The camaraderie in this group is something missing from the lives of too many men in the world.

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Our online course How to Defuse the Divorce Bomb is a deep and intense dive into handling yourself when you hear, “I love you but I’m not in love with you anymore.” Tim Wade and Steve host monthly live Q&A calls with all the students in this course which includes many other bonuses as well. Find out more here.

We love teaching men these tools – how to be better, how to know who you are, what you stand for, what you want and how to CREATE it in your life through our Masculine Confidence coaching programs.

What if this next year everything changed for you?

That’s what we want for you brother.

My new book Straight Talk Tools for the Desperate Husband will help you to lead yourself and your relationship back to good health. Understand why your partner acts the way she does toward you and learn how to lead your life in the direction you want it to go. You CAN have the relationship you want, fulfilling all your desires while maintaining love and respect.

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author avatar
Steve Horsmon Certified Professional Men’s Coach
Steve Horsmon is a Certified Professional Life Coach and owner of Goodguys2Greatmen Relationship Coaching in Livermore, Colorado. He has appeared on well known coachign and psychology television, radio, youtube, and podcast channels related to maintaining healthy relationships. Steve provides intensely personal, action oriented coaching services for men through 1-on-1 coaching, private retreats and workshops designed to give men new knowledge, skills and mindset to achieve their relationship goals. He is a committed, lifelong mentor who teaches his clients to discover their masculine power, take bold action and create the life they want. He has written articles and guest blogs for numerous relationship and expert websites.

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