My wife often takes what I consider to be "simple" requests as criticism. For example, I am now doing the laundry and I would like to say to her "Honey, would you please do me a favor? When you take your clothes off at night, would you please turn them right side out?" I want to ask her this because it would save me time in folding/hanging up clothes, because as it is now - all her clothes are inside out and I have to spend at least 5 minutes or more turning them right side out when I do the laundry.
I think I would be asking her to do something that will make doing the laundry easier for me. I expect she will HEAR it as a criticism of HER, as me telling her "You take your clothes off wrong." Or she will hear it as my being controlling, or nitpicky, or some of those other words she often uses to describe me. And I really think it is just me asking her to do me a favor to make something I do less time comsuming. But because I know she will hear it as critical, I won't ask her, because I'd rather not upset her and/or have her criticize ME for being critical, demanding, or nitpicky and/or end up in a fight over such a small thing. But actually, it's not really small, because I think of it every time I do the laundry.
I would have no problem if she asked me to do something differently that would make life easier for her. And I wish she would react in kind when I ask her to do something to make life easier for me. But the truth is - she rarely asks me to do something differently for HER - she hardly ever expresses her needs, desires, preferences, wants, etc. (Which is a whole other problem, because sometimes she expects me to be a mind reader.) I have no problem making requests of her. And it seems to me that's a part of negotiating living together. If I don't tell her it would help me if she turned her clothes right side out - how would she know?
I guess that's an awful long way of asking: how do I make requests of my wife in a way that she doesn't hear them as criticism? Maybe I could preface my request by saying something like "Honey, I want to ask you to do me a favor, but I am afraid you will hear it as criticism and then criticize ME for being controlling or nitpicky." And then just see how she responds?