Excessive criticism is one of the most common destroyers of marriages. Most of us are aware of how often we are criticized, but we are seldom aware of how often we criticize.
Here are 3 ways to help curb being critical of your spouse:
- Before you criticize, ask yourself three questions: Is it true, is it kind, and is it necessary? If you cannot answer yes to all three, then you should refrain from criticizing.
- Another good rule is not to criticize your spouse more than once per week. This gives you 52 criticisms a year! If you criticize your spouse on Monday, you are done for the week. So, choose wisely what you feel is necessary to criticize.
- When you are tempted to criticize on something that you decide is not important, find something genuine to affirm in your spouse instead. This takes what would have been a negative interaction in your relationship and turns it into a positive. You will soon see a big change in your connectedness.
How should you respond when you receive a criticism? There are 3 general ways in which most people respond. Choose wisely.
- You can deeply resent the criticism. This allows your hurt to turn to poison in your heart, which ultimately hurts you, not the other person.
- You can lash out towards your spouse. This just escalates things in a negative direction. If you are right, no defense is necessary. If you are wrong, no defense will do.
- You can receive the lesson and release the lesion. Although a criticism by nature may sting, there can be an element of truth to what is being said. Evaluate the criticism to receive any constructive criticism and release any hurt to God.
Many proverbs address the fact that the wise welcome criticism, rebuke, and reproof, but fools hate and reject it. If you have trouble with criticism, a good homework assignment would be to read a chapter of Proverbs a day. Since there are 31 Proverbs, you can match the chapter number to the day of the month.
Criticism is not inherently negative. Sometimes being corrected is a good thing and will even protect us from future hurts. Remember that God rebukes us because He loves us. If God Who is love rebukes us, then some criticism is necessary, but should be done in a kind, loving way.