Have you ever had the feeling that you can’t get anything right in the eyes of your spouse? Do you find yourself doing things, or even hiding things, just to avoid what your spouse may say? Are you getting that “why bother” mentality? You may find yourself thinking, why bother making the bed if she’s only going to complain that the pillows weren’t in the right order! In these types of relationships, it may seem at times that every attempt at pleasing just seems to result in criticism. You may feel like you have an overly critical spouse, but let’s back up a bit and look into criticism and into our selves.
The most popular people in the entire world find themselves faced with criticism on a daily basis. Hollywood actors have their every move watched and reported. Constantly criticized for how they look, what they wear, who they marry, what they name their children, and on and on. Political leaders are among the most criticized people in the world. We find fault with nearly everything they do.
What we need to first determine is whether the criticism you are receiving is either constructive or destructive. Destructive criticism is meant to hurt a person with their words. Examples are name calling, words meant to guilt, being passive aggressive, and using manipulation. A destructive criticism is something like: You are so lazy! You never do anything I ask you to do! This phrase is calling your spouse a name, and making them feel guilty for not “obeying”.
A constructive criticism is usually meant to communicate feelings and genuinely help another person. Instead of the name calling and guilt-trip phrase above, your spouse may say: I feel frustrated when you haven’t completed a task I asked you to complete. Is there a reason, or something I can do to help you complete it?
If you’re like me, you may be laughing at that last comment and thinking that neither you, nor your spouse would ever communicate that way. That may be true, but it really is the healthiest way.
After you determine if the criticism is healthy or destructive, you can begin to determine what to do in order to make your marriage a healthy one. In Part 2, we will discuss a spouse who is using destructive criticism, and how you can work together to identify and change this behavior. In Part 3, we will look into ourselves and determine how to properly handle constructive criticism.
Scriptures for Meditation
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph 4:29 ESV
“Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.” Proverbs 13:18 ESV
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1 ESV