Early on in our marriage, our biggest issue was criticism. Mark thought it would be very helpful of him to point out all of the ways I could do things better, more like him. He is now quick to admit that he tends to have a bit of a critical attitude, but he didn’t realize it at the time. He honestly thought he was just helping me! But as someone who needs affirmation and thrives on compliments, I interpreted his “helpfulness” as constant criticism.
His efforts to “improve me” and his idea of how I needed to improve changed from week to week. As a pleaser, unable to please him, I became very discouraged. Over time, I began to despair that I would never meet his expectations and almost gave up trying. It took several years of this before we went to a marriage counselor. She opened Mark’s eyes to the fact that what attracted him to me was that I was different. I was the fun, creative, light-hearted balance to his serious, disciplined, determined personality. And that the woman he was trying to make me was not what he needed, nor wanted!
When marriages fall apart, people tend to point fingers and look for something or someone else to blame. Sometimes there are outside circumstances that put pressure on a marriage like the loss of a job, financial troubles, health issues, the death of a loved one, or problems with kids. But for most of us, the most dangerous marriage killers are more stealthy like criticism. Here are 4 silent marriage killers and how to slay them.
The Silent Marriage Killers or The 4 C’s
“Why can’t we be more like them?” “What’s wrong with us?” Comparison places doubt in your marriage. If you compare your marriage to others, you will add bitterness to your life. Remember when you are pining after another’s marriage that you are only seeing their public marriage. You can’t know what goes on behind closed doors.
Critics are everywhere. Your spouse doesn’t need to feel attacked for their marriage or parenting skills as well. Being quick to criticize can leave your spouse feeling hurt and overwhelmed. Instead, try to have open conversations with your spouse and really listen to what they have to say. Understanding one another and adjusting your expectations accordingly will soothe just as quickly as criticism will cut.
Being short and frustrated is never going to strengthen any relationship, especially not a marriage. If you have anger toward your spouse find the right outlet for it, or you’ll likely stop communicating in a way that solves problems.
Control makes us feel safe and powerful, but it can also become stifling if we overexert ourselves in our marriages. “My way is right. My words are right so you should change to be more like me.” No one has complete control over anything. Controlling your spouse stifles your other half, ending opportunities for marital growth before they even happen.
The 4 C’s are important to remember if you desire to slay the marriage killers in your life.
How to Slay Marriage Killers (and love each other really well)
Comparison: Instead of saying “Why can’t we be more like them?” look at what you can learn from watching that idealized marriage. How can you and your husband grow from learning from their successes?
Criticism: Affirm and encourage your spouse in their actions. Remember to compliment and uplift as well as giving them truth with gracious wording.
Curtness: Remember that your spouse should be your priority. Treat them with respect and love no matter the circumstances.
Control: Remember what you love about your spouse and focus on those details. Step back and try to see it from their eyes.
In this podcast, Mark and I explore some of these “marriage killers” in greater depth and share our experiences with you so you can avoid the deadly C’s of comparison, criticism, curtness, and control in your own relationship.