At times, it is hard to not be critical in a marriage. The enemy wants to create disharmony between husband and wife. Criticism tends to start with a small flaw or mishap, then it grows as our minds chew on it and replay it, and finally, it takes root in our hearts when we continue seeing versions of the flaw in other scenarios that seem to confirm our suspicions. Soon, that criticism spills out of your heart and you spew words that create deep wounds. It’s OK if this sounds familiar because awareness is an important step in bringing about change, but don’t stop there.
Criticism will destroy a marriage because it is a small door that a lot of big problems can enter through. If we think it is OK to criticize our spouse, there’s nothing holding us accountable to steer clear of other destructive habits and tendencies. Looking at your spouse through the lens of criticism will surely leave your marriage empty of joy, excitement, and respect. These holes will eventually allow the love and commitment to drain out.
Criticism is the expression or disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. Surely, it is important for spouses to communicate with one another their concerns about shortcomings and things that are causing strife in the marriage. Criticism, though, is harsh and unloving, while speaking truth in love is inviting of change and growth. Which channel do you use to relay your frustrations and concerns to your spouse?
Criticism: You are late again! You could care a less about me, the kids, or being part of this family. You are so selfish and I am tired of your total disregard for me and our family!
Truth in love: I am disappointed that you’re late again, since we agreed that if you were going to be late, you would call me to let me know. Can we talk about this?
Do you see how one tears down while the other invites building up the relationship? Do you see how one trashes the person, while the other values them? It takes practice to speak truth in love, but I challenge you to learn how to communicate with your spouse in ways that invite dialogue, honesty, and togetherness, rather than repeating the same vicious cycle of frustration, anger, and regret.
Here are a few verses to instruct us on the importance of using kind words to each other:
Proverbs 16:24 - Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 15:1 - A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Psalm 19:14 - Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Ephesians 4:32 - Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 - Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
James 1:26 - If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.
Author: Pamela Palmer