You begin to share with your spouse about something that is really bothering you. Right as you are pouring your heart out to them, they ask a question about something else, revealing that they haven’t heard a word you’ve said. This affirms your suspicion (see previous post) that your spouse doesn’t care about you.
This is a situation where we can be tempted to form critical judgments of our spouse. A critical judgment is not thinking the best of someone. When they do something we don’t expect, rather than give them grace we judge their motive.
“Critical judgments can do great damage to relationships and to the kingdom of God. If you assume the worst about others, you will often misjudge them and jump to conclusions. This can cause deep hurt, bring you great embarrassment, and eventually destroy relationships. A critical attitude also leads us to exaggerate others’ wrongs and overlook their virtues, which distorts reality. This perspective will increasingly rob you of objectivity and often lead to decisions you later regret.” Ken Sande, Peacemakers
In the Grace-Filled Marriage, Dr. Tim Kimmel says,
“We need to create an atmosphere within our marriage where our spouse doesn’t feel they have to wear a mask around us to keep from revealing where they are emotionally. They need to know that the deeper hurt or confusion within their heart can come out without fear of being attacked. You know the way God treats us.”
Think about how God in Christ has treated us. He saw the worst in us, and loved us still. And marriage is to be a reflection of God’s love for His bride, the Church.
It helps even further to define our terms.
Critical: 1. inclined to find fault or to judge with severity, often too readily. 2. occupied with or skilled in criticism.
Judgment: the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion.
If you are quickly inclined to conclude that your spouse is at fault, you can be sure you will hurt your marriage. Critical judgments left unchecked will eventually kill a marriage.
Advice for the Critically Judged Spouse:
One who is judged by their spouse most likely has no voice to bring the needed correction. Our encouragement to someone in this place is to PRAY; pour out your heart to the Lord in desperate prayer. Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction, and the best news is He desires to do so.
Advice for the Spouse who Critically Judges:
It is imperative that you police yourself in this regard. If you notice you are quick to make judgments that are negative towards your spouse and their motives, you most likely have work to do, but it isn’t work that is difficult once you see the pattern. Repentance is offered to you, and grace is available for those who seek to change through the power God supplies.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…” Titus 2:11-12
Following is a prayer to help you ask God’s help to change:
Lord, help me to judge others
as I want them to judge me:
Charitably, not critically,
Privately, not publicly,
Gently, not harshly,
In humility, not pride.
Help me to believe the best about others,
until facts prove otherwise—
To assume nothing,
to seek all sides of the story,
And to judge no one until I’ve removed
the log from my own eye.
May I never bring only the Law,
to find fault and condemn.
Help me always to bring the Gospel,
to give hope and deliverance,
As you, my Judge and Friend,
have so graciously done for me.
The goal in all of this is to change detrimental behaviors in marriage in order to insure our marriage will last for the long haul. And not just last, but thrive!
In what areas have you allowed critical judgments about your spouse? Do they know? Or worse have you made your judgments known? Then, we encourage you to set aside some time to talk heart to heart. Humility is key for needed change, and God gives much grace to the humble.
For more help in this area we recommend this outstanding article by Peacemakers Ministry,
It’s very easy to fall into the trap you outlined here. The one thing we have to remember though is that we have an enemy who is vehemently opposed to the marriage of 2 believers. He knows that it’s intended to represent Christ & the church and is actively working for the destruction of anything that resembles Him. So yes, we need to be careful and work at the things you mentioned here, but also we need to fight the battle where Paul tells us it begins… that our struggle is not against flesh and blood (our spouses) but against principalities, powers and forces of this dark world. (Eph 6)
Absolutely! Our enemy never rests and he knows where we are weak. Thanks for making this clear.