Living With a Critical Spouse
By Sabrina McDonald
There are times when I feel I can do no wrong in my husband’s eyes. But other times, I feel like a bumbling antelope, waiting to get lion-pounced by his biting criticism.
We all have times when words come out harsher than intended. But I’ve learned some things about my husband’s (and my own) more critical days that might give you some insight, too.
First, he’s most critical when he’s feeling disappointed, and criticism (falsely) helps any of us feel in control. Maybe it was a problem at work, or a personal goal that’s not working out. When criticism runs high, I try to discover the issue(s) that is creating stress.
Second, I need to recognize my own sensitivity. Even those of us with thick skin can wear thin when we feel overly jabbed in the same sensitive place.
But sometimes, constructive criticism isn't a bad thing. I have to ask myself, is his criticism of me legitimate (even when he could be more gentle in his assessment)?
Finally, my husband goes through critical phases (as do I). But some of you may be married to a chronically critical spouse.
Assuming there is no abuse (if so, seek personal counseling!), surround yourself regularly with encouraging Christian friends. They can remind you to find your worth in who God says you are.
Spouses struggle to give grace, but Jesus never does.
So whether you are dealing with a season of a critical spouse, or you’ve been enduring awhile: You don’t have to be perfect. Jesus is perfect for you.
The good stuff: For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14)
Action points: If your spouse has been unusually critical, talk to them about it. Come with a non-accusing tone, but let them know how their words affect you. Evaluate your own critical tongue and sensitive nature. What can you do to help the situation? If you feel your spouse may be verbally abusive, don’t wait any longer. Call your pastor and make an appointment for evaluation.
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