I could be cooking dinner and messing in the kitchen and Joe will survey the situation and offer a suggestion: “You should move this pot to the back to make room for this?” And often instead of saying, wow, that would be great, thank you, I just mutter, “Hey I got this, and I want that pot there, you. know, for a real good reason.” (And anyway, I’ve aways felt that starting any sentence with “you should” is a bad idea for improving communication.)
I married Joe and told the world he’s my partner and I want him to be on my team forever. It’s so sweet how we can work together changing the world! He’s the best. So wonderful.
Except for one thing: I don’t want him to tell me what to do.
Communication is so important. But often “communication” in marriage is just explaining to our spouse why our way is right and their way is wrong. I often send that vibe: Well that may be right, but don’t tell me what to do. Like it might be the best idea ever, but since you told me to do it, I won’t.
Scripture points out this problem over and over: the pride in our hearts. Always wanting to do things our own way. Not being open to correction. We try to teach our kids this- you need to be teachable, moldable. As much as you think you know everything, you don’t.
But do we practice this in our marriage? Am I okay if I my husband wants to offer some course correction in my life? Maybe in an area of my life that I really don’t want his input?
Ah, sometimes, not so much. I got this. If I take help from you it means I’m not good enough on my own. I’d have to humble myself for just a moment.
Then we fail in the opposite direction as well. I love to tell Joe what to do. Because of course my way is better and I have very specialized knowledge that he doesn’t have access to. I let “You should” leave my mouth too many times. I know better. Is my intention to truly help him, or do I just want to be above him instead of beside him? I’m elevating myself above him when I say, “You know, you’re doing that the wrong way.” Ouch.
He doesn’t always take to that well, either.
What is with that? We don’t want correction in our own lives, but we’re all about saying what others could and should do better. That’s the sneaky way pride starts eating away at our marriage.
don’t be that person.
Listen. Let that pride go and truly hear what your spouse is trying to say. Just for a few minutes assume he is much, much, smarter than you and don’t be so quick to dismiss his way of doing something. He may have good ideas too.
Be slow to speak. Before you open your mouth to tell him what you think he should do or say or think, or before you tell him your morsels of wisdom, make sure your heart is in the right place. Are you trying to place yourself above him? Are you hoping that he fails so you can show him the right way? If so, then hold your tongue.
Practice humility. If you need to correct your spouse or help them, come from a heart of humility. Your spouse can usually tell and will resist your “help” if they smell a proud attitude. And of course, it’s always a good idea to mention what they are doing well before you go into what they are not doing well. Try opening with “I love what you’re doing. May I offer you a suggestion?”
Proverbs 13:10 Where there is strife, there is pride,
but wisdom is found in those who take advice.