I don’t hate you, just what you do.

December 2, 2010

in Communication

Seth did a great post entitled When you criticize my choices… in which he points out that criticizing someone’s choices is an attack on that person. Similarly, when we criticize our brides, for what they do, or say, or think, or like, we are attacking them. We are saying they are wrong, or stupid, or unimportant. Edited to add – I am talking here about things which are NOT sin issues.

Just because it’s not how you would do it, does not mean it’s wrong or bad. Just because she likes something you don’t like, or does not like something you like, does not mean there is something wrong with her.

Perhaps one of the most harmful things men do to their brides is to call things they say or do “silly” – or show by their actions that they think she is silly. On the surface, this seems like light teasing, but it can be deeply hurtful, especially over time. Seeing her as silly is dismissing her, relegating her to a place of irrelevance.

7 comments
Glynn
Glynn

Hi Mark, Look's like a very difficult situation. As a disclaimer, I have in no way in position to give advice or anything as I am a new husband. But I saw my mom in your position. Allow me to share the situation: my dad was never the talkative or complaining guy. In fact, he was a very melancholic, silent guy - until about 8 years ago. It was then that my dad had problems with hypertension, high sugar, weakening due to age. That was the time he somehow felt his contributions to the family and the kids are decreasing. His temperament drastically changed - he gets angry quickly, started to drink too much (he was never a big drinker), and has sarcastic comments about everything from us his kids, my mom's behavior, even to how we go to church, or the commercials in the tv. He was very different. He changed. Being a Christian too, my mom usually confides to me and my other siblings who understand her. A lot of times, she cries from all the pain she feels each time my dad tells her demeaning words. What really kept her going was her close relationship to God and to her fellow Christians. One good thing that happened was the opportunity for her to start a prayer team within the community. Listening to other Christians who had the same situation at home (battered wives, Christian husbands or wives of unbelievers) helped her cope with her own. It gave her strength to know that above all that's happening to many of the Christians (in an un-christian community I would say), God is in control and that God has plans for His people. Although it did not happen over night, and many times, my mom would cry to me when she feels emotionally tired or battered, having that group of Christian brothers and sisters gave her that sense of peace. Because of pain, her prayer life got stronger. All the more, it made her realize how helpless she is with what life is bringing her. As my mom once said, "it is better to hear harsh words from strangers than from the ones you love". She always try to be patient and meek when she's in front of my dad because she knows fighting back will never have good results. But all that hurt she feels inside, she opens up in prayer to God in the silence of her room. All the complains she has, she vents out to God in prayer. Truly, God's standard for real love is way beyond what we are capable. But the very attempt to give this Agape Love changes us in ways we can never imagine. Just as gold is refined by fire to be the purest, so is God refining us to have the character he wants us to have. Refining was never easy, nor was it convenient or painless. But, it is only through this character building refinement that God can accomplish his plans for our lives.

Mark
Mark

Well, it's a two way street! I love my wife dearly. But, especially lately, I feel like I'm in bagdad. Virtually nothing I do or say comes without punishment. The way I ear. What I eat. The way or what I wear. How I drive. How long I'm in the bathroom in the morning. She is very ill. Have crohn's and severe arthritis. I am working parttime to take care of her. She can no longer drive or work. So I basically do everything for her. Yet she knowsninlove sci-fi movies. When a commercial comes on for a new movie I have shown interest in her comment is "that stupid" or how can anybody watch that." if I comment that by say stuff like that is like attacking me or critisizing me or makes me feel like I'm less. She goes into a guilt ridden tail spin. Or stops talking to me for hours or even days. So when it happens I just get up and go sit on my computer or find something else to do. Very difficult situation. She already feels super guilty that she can contribute to the family. Most days she can't even help do laundry or dishes. Indont knownwhat to do.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Good comments! I should have noted that I was talking about things which are NOT sin issues. As to constructive criticism, that's great if 1) it's really constructive, and 2) you have a relationship that allows for this. On "love the sinner, hate the sin" - I agree with the core concept, but too often it's an excuse for horrible behaviour. Ridiculing the sinner, punishing the sinner, trying to drive the sinners out, is not about the sin, and is not love. I don't think most of has have learned how to separate the sin and the sinner, and that makes loving one while hating the other impossible.

Tony
Tony

I'm not so sure about this at least not as an absolute. There are things that are certainly worthy of criticism. Sure, if it's a question of taste or preference, then yes, it's probably best to accept that she does it wrong, no I mean different, LOL. But what if we are talking about sin? Sometimes we take this no criticism thing too far. I cite as my example the churches response to my ex-wife's affair. No criticism of her. My pastor did ask me what I did to cause her to have the affair. (Huh?) Nope, her friends and family (and tacitly our pastor) cheered her on. It's thinking like this that develops into calling dissent hate. Homosexual groups say the church hates them because they take such thinking to heart, believing that because we are critical of the choice to be homosexual we hate them. So color me a bit uncomfortable with this line of thinking. There are absolutes in the world and sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to call into question the choices made by our spouses. So sometimes a critique is not an attack, but rather an act of love. The person on the receiving end of the critique can choose to take it as an attack, or to accept that their spouse loves them enough to tell them when they are doing something that appears to be damaging. Oh, if only someone would love folks who sin against their spouses enough to be critical of their choices and point out the harm they are doing to themselves and their marriages. But alas, I'm afraid it's articles like this that have folks second guessing the idea of scriptures like Matthew 18.

CJ
CJ

I don't know, I have mixed feelings about this post. I think it is too much of a generalization to be useful. I think we need to more carefully differentiate between constructive criticism, versus destructive criticism. In the spirit of the post, I absolutely agree that we need to validate the emotions our wives experience. As my father oftentimes said to me, feelings in and of themselves aren't right or wrong and therefore shouldn't be subject to judgement but rather should always be validated (never discount feelings). That said, the actions that we choose to take, or the choices we choose to make, can and in specific cases should be subject to judgement via loving confrontation. Teasing and sarcasm need not apply, in reference to the labeling behaviors as "silly". I don't consider sarcasm and teasing to be loving confrontation (though good humor is always a welcome addition to provide levity during difficult conversations). While our wives are, well, our wives, they are also our sisters in Christ (or at least they should be?), and therefore I do believe that both husbands and wives have a duty to provide accountability to one another if a choice/action is obviously sinful in nature. Matthew 18:15 applies here, even to husbands and wives. We all have a duty to keep one another accountable. Finally, I disagree with the underlying sentiment that we cannot differentiate between love and action. For instance, I love my wife and my children unconditionally, there are no actions that my wife or my children can choose that will result in my no longer loving them. Even divorce, in the case of my marriage, or death even, will never change my love toward my cherished wife and kids. I oftentimes tell my children that I'll always love them, but I may not always be happy with the behaviors they choose or the actions they choose to take. We should be free to express our thoughts and concerns, our constructive criticisms, especially when our loved ones hurt us via their choices. To avoid doing so only creates bitterness and loss of love long term. I agree wholeheartedly that careless criticism doled out merely for the sake of debate or for no real purpose other than to hurt our spouse or simply due to longstanding bad communication habits serves no productive purpose. But, when the actions of our spouse result in hurt feelings, we have a responsibility to communicate our hurt feelings to our spouse, and to inform our spouse that the actions taken (or avoided) were hurtful to us as husbands. In fact, if our wives are making choices that are sinful in nature, even if not hurtful to us as husbands directly, I'd submit we still have a responsibility to speak up. We are not to sit idly by and watch a fellow brother or sister in Christ in sin and do nothing, for fear of expressing something that may not come across well to the other person. I'm not saying loving confrontation is easy, in my experience it is one of the most difficult things to do. I can confidently say that I have dearly and truly appreciated the small number of times in my life that brothers and sisters in Christ came alongside me during times when I was straying and boldly and lovingly confronted me on my waywardness. Unfortunately, I can count on one hand the number of times this has occurred - when in my heart I know that number should be much higher based upon my own introspective analysis. In my humble opinion, the lack of loving confrontation is one of the most sorely missed and needed activities in the modern church today.

Sul
Sul

I guess there is a fine line between criticizing someone and pointing out what they are doing is Sinful. Since we are supposed to Love the Sinner but hate the Sin...

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