Sep 132016 0 Responses

When Others Criticize Your Marriage

If you are doing it right, others will criticize you. Some will laugh. Others will mock. A few will seriously critique. They will not like your decisions, be confused by your quirks, and will judge many of your actions as unnecessary or harmful.

The absence of criticism isn’t a sign of health; it’s a warning sign of disease. I would be concerned if no one ever laughed at how we do marriage.

If a good number of people don’t find you somewhat odd, I would be concerned.

Why People Criticize Marriages

Two major reasons exist of why others will criticize good relationships.

1. The average person doesn’t know what it takes to make marriage work. We live in a culture of brokenness. In few places is this seen more than in marriages. While divorce may not be as rampant as some believe (don’t believe it when they say half of all marriages end in divorce), it is far more prevalent than it should be. We have neither been taught nor have we learned what it takes to make marriage work. Because of this ignorance, we can applaud bad behavior and critique good behavior in others. Without knowing it, we can hurt the relationships of others because we are giving advice (and judgment) from a position of ignorance. (See: Jenny’s List of What Makes Marriage Work)

2. We naturally try to justify our mistakes by criticizing others. Even if someone knows what is right, they are likely to critique others in order to justify past mistakes. Sometimes our loudest critics are those who have never experienced any success in relationships. Their criticism is often a form of self-defense. They are trying to deflect attention from their failures by attacking relationships which are working.

If we’re living right, many people will say we’re living wrong. It should actually concern us if no one is criticizing us. While we can’t blindly assume every criticism is a sign we are right, we also shouldn’t assume any presence of criticism necessarily means we are doing something wrong.

What They Critique

Outsiders will criticize a variety of aspects of a healthy marriage. The most common critiques are about:

Effort. Society often believes a good marriage takes little effort. They think it comes naturally. We know better. Others will laugh at the effort you put into marriage if you are doing it right.

Decisions. No matter what you decide, others will critique it. Because they don’t know the whole story, don’t have all the information, and didn’t experience the pressure of making the decision, they will assume what you have decided is wrong.

Boundaries. Few people understand the true threat of infidelity. Healthy couples are aware of the threat and set firm boundaries to protect themselves and others. If there is nothing which others roll their eyes at or think you’ve gone overboard about when it comes to setting boundaries with those of the opposite sex, you are probably setting yourself up for failure. (See: Beware of the Crossfit Affair)

Time. A good relationship demands a quantity of quality time. Because others don’t always know what a good marriage requires, proper allocation of time seems foreign to them. They may mock you when you choose not to go out with friends or can’t attend a game. When we put family first, others won’t understand.

Fidelity. In a world of broken promises, staying true to your word seems weird. Many feel as though the heart can’t be controlled and our passions choose whatever they wish. Those who believe this will have a tough time understanding those who desire to uphold their wedding vows. Sometimes when others call you “old-fashioned,” that’s a great compliment.

Health. When all one has experienced is a bad relationship, they can quickly write the story that all marriages are like that. If you have a good marriage, others will critique it as too good to be true. They will think it is a charade. While no marriage is perfect, many marriages are very good and that is hard for some people to understand.

Marriage. Some will simply criticize the concept of marriage. They might believe it’s outdated or no longer necessary. The won’t understand the necessity for a legal document or the hassle of a public commitment. Many see marriage as restrictive and a hindrance to love/freedom. What they fail to realize is that love and freedom flourish in the midst of true commitment.

Critical Response

We must be very careful in how we respond to criticism of our relationships. It could be that people who deeply love us truly see a problem and are attempting to help us. But others speak, not from true concern, but from ignorance or an attempt to make themselves feel better. (See: 5 Books Ever Married Couple Should Read)

Our challenge is to recognize the difference.

In some areas, we should be so confident, it doesn’t matter what anyone says. We should form a plan and not be moved from our choices of love, devotion, compassion, discipline, and the pursuit of the best marriage possible.

In other areas, we must always be humble and willing to consider the possibility the other person is right. We should check our own actions and attitudes to see if we can make better choices.

Even good marriages get criticized. Sometimes the critique is real. At other times, the critique is proof you are doing something right.

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