I’ve been reading the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie in the 1930s. Dale Carnegie was an influential man himself who taught businessmen and professionals how to succeed.
His suggestions and principles, if applied, would also help any marriage thrive. The recommendations are timeless and simple. In our fast-paced world, they are easy to forget too.
The first principle is “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.” I’m the first to admit, I’ve failed at this one often in my own marriage. It’s easier to treat strangers with respect and overlook their faults than it is to do in marriage. Because of our relationship, we often feel we can be blunt. It would serve us well to use filters for our words. The scripture is true. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)
I can’t get beyond the first chapter of this book because it’s a principle I want to make sure I implement in my own marriage. I thought blogging might help me think before speaking.
In any relationship, there will be irritations that occur. I’m not saying to just bite your tongue and bury things you don't like. However, I think some examination of your own heart is necessary before pointing the finger at him or her.
Today I’ve been contemplating how to communicate issues that are not exactly positive to our marriage partners.
Here are some suggestions when tempted to criticize, condemn or complain:
1. Don’t confront the issue immediately. Take some time to cool off and assess the situation.
2. Write down things you love about your spouse. Focusing on the positive helps diffuse the negative.
3. Examine your motives for the confrontation:
a. Why do you want to discuss this issue?
b. Will the conversation bring resolve?
c. Will your suggestions be well received?
d. Is this confrontation really necessary?
4. Write down the things you want to confront.
5. Pray about the right timing or decide if you just need to vent on paper.
6. Schedule a time when you can have a discussion when other family members are not close enough to hear. If you meet in public (like a coffee shop, restaurant or park) you will be more apt to stay calm.
7. Approach your spouse as if he/she has your best in mind. Listen to your spouse's side of the story.
8. Chose your words wisely. The same thing can be said using words that build up instead of words that tear down.
This list is not final by any means, so feel free to add your own steps in the comment section. However, as you put these things into practice, instead of criticism, condemnation and complaining, it will become communication, which every marriage needs to succeed.