Dec 5, 2020 | by Sara Yoheved Rigler
Proven 84.6% effective in reducing marital ailments.
Is there one thing a married person can do to prevent most of the ills of marriage? Is there a single practice that will eliminate the fever/chill cycles that plague most marriages?
Indeed, there is. However, “one shot” is not enough. Even two or three injections won’t suffice. This is a practice that must be undertaken daily, perhaps several times a day. But its effectiveness has been proven, and the results are impressive beyond expectation.
What is this practice? Stop criticizing!
Criticism destroys more marriages than infidelity. It whittles away at the bond between husband and wife, feeds the negativity of the criticizer, and undermines the self-esteem of the criticized.
Studies have shown that the human brain is hard-wired to negativity. Psychologists call this, “the negativity bias,” the congenital tendency to notice and remember the negative more than the positive. It’s why a wife will remember the times her husband forgot her birthday more than the times he actually gave her a card or gift. It’s why a husband will focus on his wife’s one extravagant expenditure in a credit card bill filled with her necessary, no-fun purchases of food and supplies for the family.
After just two weeks of their refraining from criticism their marriage improved dramatically.
I. Noticing the negative is our default starting point, but personal and spiritual growth requires that we move toward focusing instead on the positive, towards what’s good in every situation and person. The half-empty glass always leaves the one who drinks it thirsty, dissatisfied, and unhappy.
Spouses criticize because they see their husband or wife doing something wrong, and they want to stop the egregious behavior. Never are intelligent people more prone to folly than when they criticize in an effort to improve their spouse, because no one ever improves from criticism. Husbands still leave their socks on the floor after decades of nagging. Wives still spend too much time talking on the phone despite their husbands’ repeatedly pointing out what they should be doing instead.
Repeated criticism proves the adage, “Insanity is doing something over again and thinking you’ll have a different result.” In my marriage webinar, wives complain, “For thirty years I’ve been telling my diabetic husband what he shouldn’t eat.” For thirty years you’ve been telling him? And you expect a different result this time? Insanity!
Worse than Futile
Criticism is worse than merely being ineffective to change your partner. Criticism creates a toxic atmosphere in the home. No one likes to be criticized. Criticism estranges the criticized party, who is likely to retreat emotionally or even physically, finding manifold excuses not to come home. Criticism also harms the criticizer, who gets caught in a vicious cycle of focusing on the negative, of finding endless reasons to be unhappy and angry. Criticism erodes the marriage bond as surely as acid dripping on a rope weakens its fibers.
Criticism never helps and always hurts.
How to Stop Criticizing
So how do you stop criticizing? Simply stop criticizing. Go on a “criticism fast.” Every time you are about to criticize your spouse, stop and say to yourself, “Criticism never helps and always hurts.”
Covid-19 restrictions mean that many couples are spending more time than ever confined at home together. Whether that turns out to be a blessing or a curse depends on whether or not you choose to focus on the negative and voice it. In this particular test, being “positive” is the best outcome.
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