A regular stream of critical words has a way of taking the joy out of a marriage. A marriage in which a husband and wife regularly criticizes one another can feel like you are being nibbled to death by a duck.
Sometimes we will level a criticism toward our spouse followed by the words, “I was just kidding.” Often this is a passive aggressive way of not taking responsibility for what was just said. Slowly but surely, such criticisms have a way of poisoning the atmosphere of a marriage.
A husband has been working very hard in the yard during much of a hot summer day. Finally, he comes inside, pleased with the improvement in the yard. Meanwhile, his spouse goes outside to look at the front yard. The very first thing she says in response to his work is, “Well aren’t you going to clean up the flower bed on the side of the house? It looks awful! It’s embarrassing!” Wow. No affirmation or appreciation for what has been done. Instead, the first word is a critical remark that basically says, “I see what you’ve done but it doesn’t measure up.”
Now of course there is a time in which this spouse could express her desire that he address the flower bed on the side of the house. Yet, when we immediately choose criticism over appreciation and gratitude, this probably isn’t going to be received well.
That Saturday evening, this couple eats a nice meal at home. She has prepared a roast that has cooked much of the day. She has also prepared several vegetable dishes and a nice salad. At the conclusion of the dinner, he asks about desert. After learning there is no desert, he makes a big deal about never having desert. Instead of expressing appreciation and affirmation for what she has done, he immediately begins complaining. No thank you. No words of appreciation. Just complaining. This kind of response gets old, very quickly.