Every messy marriage faces the challenge of correcting messy or wrong behavior in a spouse. We often think it’s our duty to point out where our spouse has gotten off track. And in some situations and when offered in the right spirit, that can be true.
The trick is knowing how to communicate our observations in a way that motivates and encourages, rather than tears our spouses down and squashes their spirits.
Let’s say your spouse has a habit of:
- Being overly critical. You point this out by saying “Well, it’s not the end of the world—stop being so negative.”
- Being lazy when it’s time to do the dishes. You say, “You never remember to do the dishes without me having to remind you.”
- Losing his/her temper with the kids. You are quick to say, “You know, you’re not helping the kids when you yell at them like that!”
Most likely, you’ve only reminded your spouse of what they already know, and perhaps, now feel defined by or even confined to—like a ball and chain.
But you hold the key to release your spouse from this confinement and move forward toward change. How, you ask?
Simply believe the best about your spouse and point this “best” out to him or her instead of pointing out the worst.
If your spouse is …
- Critical of others, say something like, “You have this ability to clearly see what the problem is and you’re often right. So I know you’re going to figure out how to make this situation work too.”
- Critical of you, say, “I want to understand more about why you see this the way you do, because I believe you want the best for us and aren’t trying to hurt me with your words.”
- Lazy about the dishes, say something like, “I know this isn’t your favorite household task, but I see you helping me with (you name it) and I want you to know I’m grateful for that effort.“
- Angry with kids, say, “I know you don’t mean to hurt the kids with your words. You just want them to “get it” so much. How can I help you when you feel that frustration?”
These new ways of
correcting motivating your spouse point them toward what is right in his or her character. Then they’ll be motivated to rise to the occasion rather than feeling judged and demotivated by you. I’m not saying this is appropriate for every situation, but it’s probably more appropriate and helpful than many other ways we try to bring about change.
What I’m suggesting may involve a little pride swallowing on our parts and a whole lot of faith in God and in the process of encouragement, but I promise if you give it a try, it can reap incredible results!
“Love … Puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best …” 1 Cor. 13:7 (Msg)
photo by theogeo
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