Marriage Tips: Constructive Criticism

It is important to offer constructive criticism instead of putting your spouse on the defensive. No one likes to hear about their faults or areas in which they need to improve, so voicing such issues has to be done with care and respect.

Experts suggest “sandwiching” a complaint between two positive statements. Build your spouse up with a complement, suggest the area that needs improvement, and make another positive statement. For example, “I appreciate the fact that you are so involved with the kids, but it would really be great if you played with them earlier in the day, instead of just before bedtime. They get so excited, that it’s difficult for me to get them to bed on time after those wrestling matches. You’re a great dad, and I love to watch you guys play.”

This option will work far better than, “You always get the kids worked up just before bedtime and make my job harder!” There are some big differences in the two exchanges. The latter accuses while the first acknowledges the good aspects yet still addresses the problem.

Here’s another example: “You always make us late! Can’t we be on time for something just once?” Saying things like this will make a spouse feel attacked. Instead, you might try offering to lend a hand in the preparations, or say something like this: “Honey, I know you have to get the food ready, besides getting ready yourself, but I really want to be on time today. I would appreciate it if you could start a little earlier so we can leave in plenty of time. I know the food will be great and you will look terrific as usual. I’m so proud of you.”

Nagging, insulting our spouses, or complaining, will not achieve the results we want. Approaching our husbands or wives with kindness and discussing issues as objectively as possible is a far better approach. We can get our point across and still leave our spouse with his or her dignity. In fact, any person is more likely to consider what we have to say and to respond in a positive manner, when we apply a gentle touch.