Constructive feedback – if you have the relationship for it.
Had a number of comments on yesterday’s “Constructive criticism?” post. I fully agree that “iron sharpens iron” and that we need to lovingly critique what our spouse does. Sometimes we need to point out problems and errors, and sometimes we need to confront. However, criticising, in the now common negative sense of the word, does not seem biblical to me. Jesus was only harsh with those who were beyond hope – namely the religious leaders who had added so many rules to what God said they could no longer see God for who He really was.
The potential difficulty with speaking truth in love to one’s bride is that she may not feel very loved. If she feels over-worked, under-appreciated, ignored, taken for granted, or used, she does not feel loved. If she’s not feeling loved, you can’t really share your heart in a way that she hears as love.
Perhaps this is why some wives can’t or won’t hear from their husband – they have no reason to believe he is speaking in love. They doubt he has their best interests at heart, and are on their guard. Once this happens, any feedback, no matter how seemingly kind, will be suspect. Once damaged, a bride’s willingness to hear her husband takes a lot of effort and time to rebuild. If you’re in this situation, work at the loving part, and hold your “constructive criticism” until she can hear you. A good start is to go out of your way to praise her, thank her, and tell her why you are proud of her. Make your words something she wants to hear.
Bottom line: If your words and actions have damaged her ability to hear you, then it’s on you to fix that. She’s not being “rebellious”, she’s reacting to your wrong treatment.
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