The P.R.A.I.S.E.Filled Heart :Friday’s Feedback
Reader Question: I struggle with keeping my expectations of others realistic. This makes me overly critical of my husband and I know it’s not good for our marriage… see more here. Last week, I began to address this reader’s question using the acronym C.R.U.S.H. Confront the Root Issue. Regularly Renew Your Mind. Understand God’s Promises. Stop Speaking. Hold Your Husband in the Highest Regard.
Here are Biblically-based strategies to fill your heart with praise and crush the criticism. I’m using the acronym PRAISE to make these strategies easy to remember.
Pray. Pray. Pray. – A Prayerful Heart
Get in the habit of praising God. I often put on worship music first thing in the morning when I’m getting ready or when I’m doing my devotions to get into a mindset of praise. Confess your critical thoughts and emotions daily. Thank God for the work He is already doing in your life and heart, and the work He will continue to do. Ask God to give you a heart of praise. Bathe your marriage in prayer. Praise God for your spouse regularly. Here are some ideas for different ways to pray:
- Pick a Psalm, read through it, and pray it back to God aloud. For good Psalms of Thanksgiving, try Psalm 100, 111, and 118. Get into the habit of doing this regularly, or try praying through a Psalm every morning.
- If you don’t have time for a whole passage, pick a verse, meditate on it, and pray this verse for your life.
- Go out into nature (a field, the woods, your backyard, etc), and praise the Lord silently or aloud.
- Pick a favorite worship song. Sit down, close your eyes, and meditate on the song. Don’t sing; just pray the words in your heart.
- The act of kneeling is especially humbling and reverent. Try turning off the lights (unless you’re worried you’ll fall asleep), and light a candle or two. Maybe play some quiet instrumental music in the background. Place a pillow under your knees if you need to as you kneel and pray quietly. This is wonderful to do before bed, helping you get into a reflective mindset, and relax before sleeping.
- Keep a prayer journal. Record your prayers stream of consciousness. They don’t have to be perfect or grammatically correct. You don’t even have to worry about the spelling. God knows your heart and that’s all that matters. And it’s wonderful to go back and read what you’ve prayed and see how God has answered. This is my favorite way to pray.
Ready yourself for a “critical situation.” – A Prepared Heart
Be ready for all situations…
- Have Scripture verses ready to battle critical thoughts and negative emotions. I’d highly recommend Scripture memory. Here’s just one example: Proverbs 15:1-2 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.”
- When you get dressed in the morning, put on “spiritual” clothes too! Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,gentleness and patience.“
- Start out every morning with this question, “What can I praise God about this morning?” Ask God daily, “How can I show my husband love today?“
- Keep a list of reasons you love your husband on a notepad on the fridge, via post-it notes on your desk, in your journal, on index cards, in a smartphone app etc. Refer back to these when you feel critical thoughts surfacing.
- Have a trusted female mentor or godly older woman keep you accountable. Ask this woman to pray with you and meet with you in person (if possible) regularly.
- Keep a praise journal. Write down reasons to be thankful and reasons to praise God and your husband.
Assure your husband of your love daily. – A Reassuring Heart
Do you know your husband’s love language? Take the test with your spouse. Then pour out the love in the way he would like to be loved… not the way you think he’d like to be loved or the way you like to be loved.
- Touch often.
- Have sex regularly. Don’t be afraid to initiate, and let yourself go – enjoy the moment. Marital sex is God honoring and glorifying, and it’s supposed to be pleasurable. Don’t be thinking about how your husband could do a better job. Focus on what he’s doing well, and if there are things you’d like to “improve” then pick a time away from the marriage bed where you can lovingly suggest your desires. You are your husband’s lover. Act like it!
- Flirt with your spouse. Go ahead and be that couple!
- Give your husband little gifts. Paul from The Generous Husband suggests 3 Gifts a Month. His blog is written for husbands, but this principle can easily apply to wives too. You can make something inexpensively (I like to bake for my husband) or buy something small that he will enjoy. Attach a little note too with some words of encouragement.
- Speaking of notes, leave encouraging, uplifting, positive notes for your husband often. Stick them in his lunch box or briefcase. Post them to his computer desk or the bathroom mirror. Write him a love letter every once in awhile. If he has to go away on a business trip, buy him an inexpensive card in the 99cent section, write something sweet, and write DO NOT OPEN UNTIL (insert specific time).
- Spend time with him regularly. I love this idea from Lori over at The Generous Wife – spending a little time each day on the couch.
- Lather on the verbal love.
- Do a labor of love. My husband always appreciates it when I do the cat litter instead of him, so if he forgets on occasion, I do it for him instead of complaining. Scrape the ice and snow off his car in the morning on a winter morning. Or sneak out and fill up his gas tank when he’s not looking so he doesn’t have to get gas in the morning.
- Celebrate Your Man – His Way!
Instill a spirit of peace in your home. – A Peaceful Heart
Make your home a peaceful environment – a place your husband wants to come home to.
- Get in the habit of complimenting him in front of your kids, family, peers, etc. Eat dinner together nightly if you can. I love this post from April over at Peaceful Wife – Why Eating Supper Together Matters.
- Work to keep your home regularly clean. I shared my chore schedule in my Easter Challenge post. You don’t have to be absolutely spotless all the time (that’s completely unrealistic), but work to keep your home generally tidy.
Save difficult conversations for appropriate times. – An Appropriate Heart
If you need to confront your husband about an issue in your marriage, first be sure your heart is in the right place. Recognize the log in your own eyes before judging your husband.
Times that Are Inappropriate for Confrontation
- Right before bed or after you’re in bed
- While your husband is on his way out the door
- In front of your children, families, neighbors, co-workers, or peers
- While he’s trying to concentrate on something
- While you’re having sex
- While he’s helping you out around the house (i.e. telling him he’s doing it all wrong is disrespectful)
- On your way to church (this is a hard one because the Devil seems to like to rile us up every once in awhile as we’re getting ready for corporate worship)
You get the picture. And if you’re going to argue, learn to fight fairly.
Expect realistically. – A Realistic Heart
Don’t expect your husband is going to get everything you want him to do and change overnight. Be realistic.
- Don’t set ridiculously high standards in the first place. Your husband is not God. He cannot fulfill all your needs and desires. He cannot take the place of a perfect God. Expect that your husband will fail you. Expect that he won’t always be what you need him to be. Expect to be disappointed at some point in your marriage.
- Don’t always expect him to fail. Your husband needs your encouragement and support. Setting too low of standards just sets you up for failure. Saying “I told you so,” or shrugging it off as just one more disappointment is cruel and disrespectful.
- As you’re working to overcome a critical nature, expect bad days. Expect days when you’ll slip back into your old ways. Expect moments where you have a hard time controlling your thoughts or your tongue. Paul speaks of this in Romans 7:15 – “For I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” It’s the nature of the flesh to sin and to fail, but that’s what makes God’s grace all the more sweeter. When you slip up, remember God still loves you and He still grants you His mercy. Forgive yourself. You can’t love God and love your husband deeply if you’re wallowing in self-pity.
What other methods do you use for prayer? How else can you ready yourself for a “critical” situation? How do you assure your husband of your love for him? How can you keep your home a place of peace and praise? What methods do you use to lovingly and respectfully confront your husband? How do you keep yourself in check from unrealistic expectations?
Editor’s Note: Next week is Good Friday and we’ll be in the middle of The Easter Challenge. Don’t forget to check out the intro post and make Easter more meaningful in your marriage. Come back tomorrow for suggestions/challenges for Palm Sunday. Join me on April 5th for strategies for living with an overly-critical spouse.
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- Posted in: 5 Love Languages ♦ Communication Tips & Techniques ♦ Conflict Resolution ♦ Contentment ♦ Expectations ♦ Fruits of the Spirit ♦ Humility ♦ Knowing God ♦ Prayer ♦ Real Marriage ♦ Respect ♦ Romance ♦ Sex ♦ Worship
- Tagged: Colossians 3, Communication Tips & Techniques, Criticism, Emotions, Fighting Fairly, Gratitude, Love Letters, Meditation, Peace, Prayer, Reader Questions, Scripture Memory, Worship