Take a few moments before reading further into this article to replay in your mind the words you have spoken to your spouse over the past 24-48 hours. If you had to estimate the number of criticisms and the number of encouraging statements, what would those numbers be?
In the busy realm of every day life, it’s easy to get into the habit of focusing on what is wrong instead of what is right. This happens all too often in marriages. It may start with one spouse forgetting to take out the trash and turn into a list of every other perceived wrong.
“You never help with the dishes!”
“You always leave the bathroom a mess!”
“You never put your dirty clothes in the hamper!”
“You’re never home because you spend too much time at work!”
Critical statements like these leave no room for the positive in their “always” and “nevers”. They stem from the indignant roots of a heart that feels wronged. It seems as though when we feel justified in our disgruntled attitude, we may look for other supporting factors. Pride leads us to seek justification to feel superior.
It’s as if we are saying, “See?! Look at all these ways you’ve wronged me! I have a right to be angry!”
Yes, you have a right to feel the way you feel. You do not have the right to invade the rights of your spouse and treat him or her disrespectfully because you feel hurt. It’s not healthy for you, your spouse, or the relationship. It is self-centered, and a marriage cannot survive if its members are focused on themselves. Love is a choice to not focus on self.
My challenge to you this week is to keep track of your criticisms and jabs as well as your words of encouragement. Make an effort to offer at least twice the amount of encouragement as criticism. At least.
New International Version (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.