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Just Focus on the Good Attributes: Why Criticise Your Spouse Or Love-Interest At All?



Positive Reinforcement

By Juggun Kazim

April 13, 2014

Two terms that are often flippantly thrown around are “constructive criticism” and “positive reinforcement”. Apparently both are crucial for one’s personal growth. The question is: are they BOTH really that necessary?

The textbook view of constructive criticism is that “criticism” or the generation of “evaluative judgments” is often painful or difficult to “give” or “receive” but that “if handled appropriately by both the person criticised and the person being criticised, critical feedback can promote constructive growth in individuals and relationships”.

I don’t agree. I think that nothing good ever comes from criticism in personal relationships. Feedback does not have to include your take on what you think the other person should or should not do. By comparison, my generation tends to just criticise.

I come from the school of thought that positive reinforcement is key to one’s growth. Positive reinforcement is not an approach that should be limited to children. Adults also often need a boost in ego and self-esteem at different stages in their lives.

Frederic Skinner, famous psychologist, believed that the best way to make a desired behaviour more likely to occur was by rewarding a person for that behaviour. This sounds so simple in theory and yet, we don’t apply this in our everyday life.

Marriage is one of the strongest relationships that can exist and yet one of the most fragile. One signature and you’re married; and then another signature can end it all. I am in no way trying to trivialise this beautiful partnership; just trying to get across the fact that we may, at times, take it for granted.

I see people on a daily basis criticising their marriage partner under the guise of “constructive criticism” but in reality, they are just putting the other person down.

Imagine this scenario for a minute. Boy meets girl. They fall in love and then get married. They love each other just the way they are. Fast forward to a year after marriage; the girl is irritated and angry because he works too hard and doesn’t remember a single important occasion. The boy is frustrated and angry at constantly being picked on and hates being home as a result of the constant “constructive criticism”. And this how the vicious cycle of marriages falling apart begins.

Wouldn’t it be smarter then for her to just focus on his good qualities? And why can’t he just cut down his work hours and appreciate her wonderful attributes.

In the initial stages of marriage, what many men end up doing is that when their wife is upset, they will immediately cuddle up to her and play nice. This subliminally gives her the message that the way to get attention and love is to get pissed off and to criticise. The same problem applies to women as well. Men come home in a huff because the day at work was hell or because she called too many times, and so the wife goes into extra-nice mode and reward his tantrum. Had the attitude she disliked been ignored once or twice, it would have not been repeated again.

My question is, why criticise your spouse or love-interest at all? If you just focus on the good attributes of the other and simply ignore the negative, then there will be more peace in the household and in your mind. And eventually, the positive will outweigh the negative. Yes, sometimes things can be fixed just by ignoring them.

Juggun Kazim is an actor, an anchor and a model. She is currently the host of ‘Morning with Juggun’ on PTV Home