“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29
Words are very powerful. They can either pull down or build up. As the scripture says, good words are necessary to build! So are you building or are you tearing down! It goes on further to say that when we speak words that ‘build’ we are imparting ‘grace’ to the hearers. His grace is His ability when we can’t!
Couples who understand this concept and who put it to practice often have thriving relationships. Change can be initiated through encouragement as opposed to criticism. Most people do not take criticism lightly. It leaves them feeling demoralized, discouraged and detached from one another. Encouragement is a good motivator and it draws couples together.
However, there are some times when we need to confront our spouse on their bad behavior. It’s important for us to approach it wisely. Here are some suggestions on how to proffer critical feedback;
Give it with an open heart: If your spouse thinks that the purpose of the criticism is for you to have your own way, the tendency is for them to shut down and there will be barriers in your communication. However, if they are convinced that it is for the good of the relationship, they will willingly accept it.
Let the purpose be to strengthen your relationship: When speaking to your mate concerning an issue, your focus should be to share their challenges and not changing them. Let your intent be to find a solution that will work for both of you.
Focus on specific issues: It is important to focus on the issues at hand and not make generalizations. John Gottman, in Why marriages succeed or fail discovered that general criticisms were one of four fatal horsemen in marriages that failed.
Focus on specific solutions: Successful couples are positive and solution-focused. They want to solve their problems and move on with loving and learning. Keeping things simple increases the possibility of receiving a positive response.
Approach mistakes as part of a learning curve: Couples who thrive in their relationship do not make a mountain out of a mole hill but simply regroup, review their agreements and make a concerted effort to keep them. When either of the partners think that there has been a repeated violation of an agreement made between them, or their thoughts and feelings are constantly disregarded, then they should look for a deeper issue involved. Often times, it is usually that one partner made an agreement they were unwilling to keep, this maybe a character issue that needs to be addressed. Mistakes and broken agreements can be an opportunity to look closely at our relationships.
Always look out for positive moments: Try always to catch your spouse doing good things and compliment them. Constantly identify progress and make a big deal of it. Appreciate efforts made and be generous with your praise and admiration.
Written by Dr. Godwin & Blessing Ude