If only my spouse would ______________! How you fill in the blank determines if you feed your spouse’s inner critic or inner encourager.
Imagine these inner voices living on each shoulder whispering thoughts into your spouse’s ear. It’s our job to strengthen the voice of the encourager and not the critic.
But what if my spouse fails to do something that’s important to me? That’s a great question. First you must remember that you also have an inner critic and inner encourager living on your shoulders. In times like these it’s easier to hear the critic than the encourager. So it’s good to take our dilemma to the Lord in prayer. The critic hates prayer. It wants to isolate you so his is the only voice you hear. The encourager, on the other hand, loves prayer because the Author of prayer is the source for all our encouragement, either given or received.
Now back to the question. How do we approach our spouse with a subject that could be hard to hear? How do we help them hear our question as an encouragement and not a critical judgment?
First, make sure the timing is right for a serious conversation. They shouldn’t be rushed, tired or already irritated.
Second, pray for gentleness. The Bible says that a soft answer turns away wrath.
Third, humbly say something like this: Honey, what should I do if I feel you have neglected something important to me? I know you have been busy, so I don’t want to assume why this is so.
Fourth, wait for their answer and then, believe what they say. If you have harbored bitterness or unforgiveness due to listening to your own inner critic, this is an absolutely necessary step in encouraging your spouse to do the same.
Finally, if this doesn’t bring resolve to your situation, either give it time as you choose to be more encouraging than critical. Or if it’s really serious, seek counsel.
What a privilege it is to live so close to another where we can actually help them grow stronger in their fight against the inner critic.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
(Hebrews 3:13 ESV)