In a recent article, a wife asks a counselor what is the best way to handle criticisms from a spouse. The counselor advises that “the antidote to criticism is to make a direct complaint that is not a global attack on your partner’s personality.” The counselor has error in providing the best way to handle criticism from your spouse without considering how to avoid the characteristics of a dysfunctional organization such as a husband and wife.

The first thing that the husband and wife must understand is that when a man and woman get married they form an organization. According to Genesis 2:22 -23, the husband and wife form one flesh or one organization.

And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man (Genesis 2:22-23 – KJV).

Another scripture that validates when a man and women get married that they become one organization is Ephesians 5:31.

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife and they two shall be one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31).

Even from a secular perspective, a husband and wife formulate an organization. We use the following example to prove our point.

  • Two people form an organization
    • Two people become a pair
    • Pair is a couple
    • Couple is a team
    • Team is a group
    • Group is an organization

When husbands and wives attempt to handle criticism from their spouse by responding angrily it is symptomatic of a dysfunctional organization.

A dysfunctional organization transforms through five different levels. The dysfunctional organization begins with each person’s use of defense mechanisms for coping. Defense mechanisms are the unwritten rules an individual learns and utilizes to effectively deal with circumstances that are upsetting, embarrassing, or threatening.

The second level is skilled incompetence, which is the outcome of the defense mechanisms we have internalized. When the defensive behaviors we’ve learned are transformed into a learned behavior, that behavior becomes a skill – albeit an incompetent skill – that we consider necessary in order to deal with issues that are embarrassing, threatening, or upsetting. A skill that is learned from the regular application of a defense mechanism has a high degree of incompetence embedded within it, because we are unaware of how this skill will impact our future.

Skilled incompetence transforms into a defensive routine. Defensive routines are the third level. When the skilled incompetence is automatically exhibited at all times, the behavior is now a defensive routine.

Defensive routines lead to fancy footwork. Fancy footwork is the fourth level. Fancy footwork happens when individuals try to deny the behavioral inconsistencies they exhibit, or else they place blame on other people, which results in distancing themselves from taking responsibility for their behavioral inconsistencies.

Fancy footwork leads to organizational malaise. Organizational malaise is the final level. During this phase the individuals in the marriage will seek to find fault within the other spouse rather than accept responsibility for their actions and correct their behavior accordingly. The individual continues the process by accentuating the negative and deemphasizing the positive in an effort to cover up their actions. The organizational malaise is further exacerbated by a refusal of one or all the members to discuss their area of responsibility.

In order for the husband and wife to handle criticism from their spouse appropriately, they must evaluate their commitments and the commitments of their spouse. Since the foundation for a dysfunctional marriage is the defensive mechanisms stage we must evaluate those values developed at that stage.

Use the following steps to evaluate your complaints:

  1. Get a blank sheet of paper
  2. Draw a line down the middle of the paper
  3. At the top of the left side write: Complaint
  4. At the top on the right side write: Commitment
  5. Write down your top ten complaints on the left side
  6. On the right side, write your commitment for each complaint

Use the following steps to evaluate your spouses complaints:

 

  1. Get a blank sheet of paper
  2. Draw a line down the middle of the paper
  3. At the top of the left side write: Complaint
  4. At the top on the right side write: Commitment
  5. Write down your spouses top ten complaints on the left side
  6. On the right side, write your spouses commitment for each complaint

Instead of complaint to your spouse tell them what your is your commitment. When your spouse is complaining respond by saying: Is your commitment ______________? This will help you to have a deeper understanding of what your spouse is committed to and help to better handle criticism from your spouse.

Related Articles

‘Family math’ doesn’t always add up

Rethinking the ‘Problems With Black Marriage’

How to Handle Criticism from Your Spouse

 

Dr. Derrick and Mrs. Sheila Campbell

PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

(856) 566-3267 www.advancedmarriagetraining.com

 

Published books – Leading Your Marriage into the Promised Land -Leading Your Marriage into the Promised Land (Workbook for husbands & Wives) – Advanced Marriage Training for Singles

 All Three     Advanced

“I was blessed by the love and sensitivity that you and your wife showed during the presentation”.

 

Bishop Joseph P. Ravenell

Samaritan Baptist Church

Trenton, NJ “I would highly recommend you to any church or organization desiring to provide their people with timely marital wisdom and practical application skills”.

 

Dr. James E. Woods, II

El Shaddia Christian Assembly

Philadelphia, PA

Derrick and Sheila

 

What is the best way to handle criticism from your spouse?
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