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"It's nasty and belittling, and it gets at his fear that he may be exhibiting the worst traits of his family." If you're about to spout a criticism like this, stop and think about what's behind it: Maybe your father-in-law is the kind of guy who never cleans up after himself, and your husband's habit of leaving dirty dishes around the house is getting to you.
According to Ford, you should skip the insult and get right to a reasonable request, such as: "Hon, when you're done with your sandwich, can you bring your dish over to the sink?
Though you may have legitimate concerns to express or issues to bring up, doing so in a harsh manner can be damaging in the long term, to both your husband's feelings and your relationship.
According to Judy Ford, psychotherapist and author of Every Day Love, "Speaking kindly is a skill that couples have to learn.
Second, it's just plain demeaning for any adult to hear that his efforts are sub-par. [fill in the blank]" "These are two phrases I advise couples never to use," says Ford, "because they set up an instant, negative tone; they halt communication and they put the other person on the defensive." These blanket statements can make your husband feel unfairly attacked, and chances are he'll just fire back with all the times he did help.
Do this too often and your husband might think, "I can never do anything right or anything that'll please her," says Ford. If he's in the middle of a task and you think that he's doing it wrong, evaluate whether it really matters, keeping in mind that, just because he's doing something differently than you would doesn't mean that he's doing it wrong—he is, after all, an adult too. If there are legitimate problems you'd like to address (he really does tend to leave his tools all over the garage floor or often forgets to put gas in the car after driving it), avoid generalizing and try to focus on the issue at hand while also communicating how his actions make you feel: "When you come home with an empty tank of gas, I feel like you don't care about the next person who has to drive the car—which is usually me." Then add the phrase "would you be willing...," suggests Ford.
Do you dislike how much time he spends away from home?