National Association of Marriage Enhancement

Construction Crew or Demolition Team

As a spouse, you have a choice every day—to respectfully help or to condescendingly put down. Picture this situation: a wife spends one hour getting ready for her big date with her husband. She comes out with (in her husband’s view) “over-reaching” hair and make up. She comes out expecting to wow her hubby. Instead, her husband scoffs, “Are you trying to join the circus?” There is a way to respectfully put in your opinion. We call it constructive criticism. Here would be a better way to address the situation. “Honey, you know you do not have to do all of that to impress me. I love the simpler you. You are so beautiful.” That was not hurtful at all! That was helpful!

Maybe this example was a little extreme compared to your marriage, but we are all guilty at times of demolishing the other, rather than building up. Here is a metaphor. Your spouse is a newly built house. Every time your motives of helping are anything but pure and loving, you are tearing up the floorboards. When your motive to help is pure and loving, you are securing and nailing that floorboard down. Your words and attitude can construct or deconstruct your spouse at the very core of who they are. Some words cut so deeply that they do long-term marital damage.

Sometimes its necessary to help out your spouse and give them our advice, but a word of wisdom is to watch your heart and motive behind what you say. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) If you posture yourself to respect your spouse, you will construct them.