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Switch from being critical to appreciative and your marriage will change

Image: 123RF

Perhaps the easiest and one of the most cowardly things to do in a marriage is to focus on your partner’s faults and imperfections — forgetting your own.

By imperfections, we’re not talking about cheating or abuse of any kind.

Those are not weaknesses or imperfections. They are disrespectful behaviours that must be rejected and be appropriately dealt with outright.

But many people are later weighed down with regret and loneliness for throwing away a very good thing because they failed to recognise, accept and appreciate it while they had it.

Their all-or-nothing thought process weighs their partners down with criticisms, finding wrong in almost everything they do.

Things are seldom done right, unless you do them yourself. Even then, you become a lot more gracious to your own faults.

When you take your spouse for granted, you run the risk of not only forgetting the blessing of marriage, but entertain the thought that you could be better off alone.

Here are some suggestions of how to appreciate and value your spouse: 

Prioritise your partner and marriage

No matter how busy life gets, no activity or responsibility should be more important than your marriage and the person you love. None!

Be careful of your words

A partner who always feels criticised is ultra-sensitive. Even constructive criticism can turn sour.

A person whose character, personality, self-esteem or ways of doing things is always hammered will pay extra attention to not just what is said, but also how it’s said.

When you have to point something out, or during conflict, choose your words carefully.

Actually, certain things, are best left unchallenged — especially when they’re insignificant.

Don’t use extreme or absolute language like exaggerations, or overblown and probably untrue claims  like, “You always...” or “You never...”

Focus on your spouse’s love language

Knowing one another’s love languages can help you determine the best way to show each other appreciation in a way that is personal and that matters most.

For example, if your partner appreciates words of affirmation but you show affection in a more physical way, such as hugging or touching, it won’t resonate as much with them as it would if you told them how much you love them or how much they mean to you, or wrote it down.

Small gestures every day

Find a way to pause and acknowledge your spouse in some way in your day, every day — even if it’s as simple as saying hello and goodbye when they walk in and out of the door. .

A phone call or text isn’t bad either. One of the tenets of gratitude is acknowledging that something or someone really matters to you, and one of the best ways to do that is through little gestures like kissing them hello and goodbye, saying good morning and good night, or pausing to chat when they walk in the door.

Those little moments ultimately add up to the big thing: showing your partner that you genuinely care that they are in your life.

Pay attention to those small gestures. Find them. Make them happen. Lean into them. They matter more than you think, because they show your partner that they matter to you most. 

Attitude of thankfulness

When you make a conscious and deliberate mental switch from being critical to being appreciative, your marriage will change. Guaranteed!

Once you start being thankful for the little or big things, your thankfulness might just start to multiply. Gratitude is a catalyst for abundance.

If you try to find at least one thing to be thankful for your spouse each day — especially when you’re most annoyed with them — your gratitude can start to transform your attitude.

But be careful not to turn your thankfulness into a gripe session, like, “I’m thankful that my husband takes out the garbage but that’s all he does. He never helps out with anything around the house”.

Just be thankful, and deliberately silence your criticisms.

Public acknowledgment

Expressing gratitude and doing acts of kindness for your spouse in private can communicate love and affection in unique ways.

However, public acknowledgment of your spouse can create a whole new sense of appreciation.

Openly recognising and praising your spouse in front of others strengthens the sincerity of your thankfulness.

Spouse appreciation is all that is needed to infuse vigour and strength in your relationship.

We truly believe it is to your personal benefit to accept and appreciate your partner, imperfect as they are.

Stop sweating the small stuff, and just enjoy life and your spouse.

Focus on their good rather than their insignificant shortcomings. Your growth — and maturity in character — is connected to your spouse’s imperfections.

But if you continue to fault-find and criticise them even for the smallest of things, you won’t only lose them eventually, but you’ll first lose the relationship (friendship, connection, attraction) even while you share the same bed.

Because they can only take so much of your criticism and negativity motivated by your processing of life as black and white, you’ll be unhappy and your marriage will be characterised by conflicts and an overdose of silent treatment.

And this will be because you choose to take a red marker and magnify even the smallest dots, instead of accepting and embracing the person in your life. 

Remember that when you chose your spouse, you inevitably chose a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next 10, 20 or 50 years.

Not all marital conflicts are meant to be resolved. Some are just meant to be managed.

You’ll weigh yourself down with frustration when you try to solve unsolvable problems.

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