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8 Strategies to Complain Your Way Into a Happier Relationship

There was a time back in the early days of my now nearly 30-year marriage when a hand-written sign hung over our toilet. It read as follows: "Please remember to put the seat down or [cover your ears, kids] I may be forced to kill you." Yikes. If memory serves, I believe I signed it, "your loving wife." Not the proudest moment in my marriage, nor my best literary work, but it did the trick. My husband, rather than being offended (or worried), chuckled every time he saw the note -- and, importantly, put the seat down. I felt bad that our gentle-hearted nanny had to witness that whole scene from our marriage. But the fact is that couples therapists might have given me high scores for my off-color antics -- why?

Because complaining is good for your relationship.

Not about every little thing, but when it comes to the things that matter to you (like not wanting to fall into the toilet when it's pitch dark at 2:00 a.m. and you've really got to go), complain! The reason is this: Not complaining and, instead, letting those concerns build up could do more harm than good. The longer you wait, the bigger the problem gets, and the more irrational you become. When you finally explode, and you will, chances are that your complaint won't come out with a cute (however rough around the edges) note. It will be war.

So complaining is good, but it has to be done right.

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