No one likes to be criticized. Furthermore, giving criticism — giving a critical analysis in the best sense of the word — is difficult to do very well.
In marriage, this is especially true. And yet, in marriage it sometimes becomes critically important to give and receive constructive criticism.
Do we feel like criticizing our beloved to put him/her down and raise ourselves up? That question is critically important. Or is our only motive a sincere and humble desire to help our beloved?
And when we feel criticized, how do we react? Does our poor self-esteem turn it into a battle? Or do we listen humbly in case there is something to learn?
We probably do a mix: our pride and our love both get involved at the same time. Therefore, what is needed is prayer before speaking. Talk to Jesus before you talk to your sweetheart. Unburden onto Jesus everything that worries you about the critical situation, and everything that’s been frustrating to you or making you feel unloved.
Then ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right words and a calm tone of voice and a good opportunity to discuss the situation with your beloved. And wait. Wait until prayer has made a difference.
Criticism is easy to do, but rarely do we do it well without prayer — mostly because it is so easy to do.
- If you could criticize your beloved right now for one problem, what would you choose to focus on? (Do not let him/her know your answer! This is between you and Jesus.)
- How might it benefit your relationship if you could talk about it with your beloved and if he/she would listen well?
Strengthen your relationship:
Using the questions above, write a love letter that describes the situation that has made you feel critical. Describe how you feel (worried? afraid? lonely? drained? tested? tempted?). Share your hopes and dreams about it, but don’t provide any solutions — not yet. (Remember, this is a love letter!) Next, get together and pray, thanking God for the good that each of you give to the other. Then exchange the love letters. After reading them, share ideas on how to improve the situations you described.
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© 2017 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries