Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Did you know that there’s a big difference between complaining and criticizing? All of us need the freedom to complain to our spouses. We also need to make sure our spouses know they have the right to complain to us. In a healthy marriage, there is a freedom of expression that allows
us to talk openly.
When you complain, you must remember that it isn’t about your spouse; it is about you. Even though you may be complaining about something your spouse has done, the focus is on how you feel. In other words, if Karen has done something that bothers me and I confront her about it I would say something like, “Karen, you were short-tempered with me this morning and it bothered me. I don’t like it when you respond to me that way. If I’ve done something to make you mad, then I want you to tell me.”
Notice that I didn’t begin by accusing or attacking her. I began by talking about how I felt and my desire to understand what happened. I also said that if I had done something wrong, then I wanted to know it and take responsibility for it. Complaining gets everything out on the table without demeaning your spouse or putting him or her on the defensive.
Criticizing is different. Criticizing focuses on the other person as it accuses them and immediately puts them on the defensive. Here is what that same conversation would sound like: “Karen, you were short-tempered with me this morning and I don’t appreciate it. I don’t deserve to be treated like that. The next time you do that, I’m going to let you have it.”
Notice the difference in complaining and criticizing? Complaining explains the problem, but gives your spouse a gracious way to respond and explain his or her side. Because complaining focuses on how you feel and doesn’t try to interpret your spouse’s actions, it keeps the conversation civil and constructive. Criticizing immediately puts you in a battle mode and stirs up a hostile environment.
You must be careful to begin your confrontations with affirmation and respect for your spouse. Get your emotions under control and keep your mouth in check. Focus on how you feel and allow your spouse the right to complain back to you and explain what is going on inside. If you will do this, your confrontations will be much more pleasant and productive, and you will experience more intimacy and a deeper friendship.
Talk It Out | When was the last time you allowed your spouse to complain and you didn’t become defensive or angry? Talk about ways your spouse could approach you with a complaint and the end result be productive.
Walk It Out | This week do something for your spouse that you would do for your best friend. Take her out for coffee, surprise him with an inexpensive gift, or make a phone call in the middle of the day just to say, “I’m thinking of you.”
Created about 1 year ago