Appreciation Vs Criticism

Posted by on May 21, 2015

I logged on to Facebook this morning and found an article posted by my cousin Nikki. She said it was a bit long but worth the read so I took a few minutes from my morning news reading and read it. By the time I got to the end of it, I felt like I had been reading about a part of my life that I don’t talk a lot about. You can, and should, read the article here.

The article tells the story of a woman who realizes that she’s been sort of abusing her husband without even knowing it. The jist of the article is that she’s been nagging her husband about all sorts of things that at the end of the day, really don’t matter. She came to find that her husband does very small things differently than she, and that when he did these, she would then feel it necessary to “correct him”. After awhile, he’d end up covering things up that he’d done because he didn’t want to listen to her “nag” him. It all starts with him not buying the “right” kind of hamburger. From there, it goes on to other things.

In reading this article, I found myself flashing back to a time before I was married to Tamara. To a time where someone else played the role of Mrs. Klem. And for everything the woman in the article wrote about, I kept thinking about how she was describing exactly what I felt like back in my earlier days.

For some who might read this, you might not know that before Tamara came along, I was married once before, and that it was a short lived marriage. For three years I was with someone who it became very obvious was not the person for me.

In my case, it wasn’t hamburger. In reading the article, I began to recall the criticisms I received on an almost daily basis. Here’s some of the examples of things I would get lectured on almost every day:

  • I couldn’t dry the dishes right because if I touched the dish, it would need to be washed again
  • I didn’t know how to fold my laundry right because I had never worked in a hotel and the way I folded my laundry would not allow it to stack properly
  • When driving her to work, I always took the wrong way because she didn’t like the street I drove on
  • If I took a bath and she saw me, I would be told that I had to wash my body parts in a certain order because any other way was “wrong”
  • I didn’t understand what being close to my family meant because it’s not possible to be “close” with your family without practically living next door
  • I shouldn’t have some of my best friends come over because she felt they were inappropriate or “weird” yet her friends were around all the time and were just as weird

I can’t speak as to why she was like this. But I do know that it was this consistent berating of me that ultimately ended our marriage. The constant barrage of criticism came out of me in the form of anger. I’m not a violent man, but I do have a temper, and it would ultimately come out in the form of screaming and yelling and a lot of fighting. Some people would simply swallow their feelings  I did  the opposite and blew up on a fairly regular basis. I take responsibility for being the one who probably got angry more than anything, but there was a reason for behind the anger and the yelling. I was tired of being criticized for doing things that were not “wrong”, but different.

In reading that article, it made me think about folding the laundry. Did it really matter how I folded our towels? Yeah, sure you knew how to fold towels consistently for hotel rooms. But we didn’t live in a hotel. Did it really matter if one towel didn’t quite fit in the closet exactly right? Was it that important that it be done “your way” as opposed to simply appreciating the fact that your husband was trying to help at all?

That was the point I took away from the article. Whether I was drying the dishes, or driving her to work, I was trying to help. I was trying to be the good husband and doing something for her. Could you not simply appreciate the effort as opposed to criticizing how I went about it? I have seen time and time again where wives of unhappy husbands are telling them how they should do things and then they wonder why the husband isn’t happy. Well DUH! Do you like being told everything you are doing is being done wrong?

The article really points out how for many wives, they need to really consider the fact that if their husbands are doing something for them, even if they think what they are doing is being done the wrong way, they really should spend more time appreciating the fact that the husband is doing anything at all. Marriages where both sides appreciate the other last much longer than those filled with excessive criticisms and beratement. I’ve watched friends of mine have their lives self-destruct because of this.

Tamara gets that. She’s not a fan of how I put dishes in the dishwasher. She’s even told me that she’s changed how the dishes are in the dishwasher after I have filled it. Not because she thinks I am doing anything wrong, but just because she prefers it a certain way. She’s always thankful of me loading the dishwasher and never complains. The same is said of our laundry, making supper, or cleaning around the house. I do things differently than she does, and she shows her appreciation by thanking me, and not criticizing me. Men want to know that their wives appreciate the work they do, even if they don’t agree with how the husbands do it. It’s the appreciation that really matters.

My takeaway is to always be aware that although you might think of your own opinion as the “right way” to do something, it’s very likely that many others will not share that same opinion. Just because you think it, doesn’t make it right. That can be so true in so many different situations.

– Matt


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