QUESTION: My husband and I have been married six years and except for one issue I’ve been exceptionally happy. He never compliments me but is quick to tell me if something is wrong. For example, he’ll say, “You have a hair sticking out of your nose” or “You forgot to bring the mail in.” I recently had my hair colored, cut and styled. By the time I returned home, I had received three compliments, two from male sales persons and one female. My husband said nothing.
I praise him to high heaven about the way he dresses, his cooking
when he cooks for us and the nice way he keeps our yard. I’ve talked to
him about this but my words seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps I’m
not an effective communicator. Can this be resolved?
– Likes Compliments
Dear Likes Compliments,
I’m sorry to hear about your situation since I know it must be hurtful to have a spouse who is constantly critical. I don’t want to be too blunt, but in all honesty I find it hard to believe you can be “exceptionally happy” in a relationship where your husband never compliments you but is always quick to find fault. This does not sound to me like a healthy marriage.
In a wholesome marriage, one often compliments and praises his or her spouse – there is a feeling of mutual acceptance, support and encouragement. A less-than-healthy scenario emerges when the criticisms and complaints overwhelm the compliments. In your case, it seems that all you receive is negative remarks and rebukes, with little or no praise.
I’m also concerned that even after you discussed the matter with your husband and openly expressed your feelings, his behavior hasn’t improved. Frankly, you should not have to put up with this. I strongly recommend that you seek marriage therapy in order to improve your relationship and to enable you to grow as a couple. The good news is that you realize there’s something wrong and are willing to work on your marriage. Recognizing that there is a problem is half of the solution.
I trust and pray that your husband will also recognize the unhealthy undercurrent in your relationship and that he’ll be open to working on the issue with a qualified marriage counselor. In order to thrive, relationships require effort and attention. I encourage you to be strong, stay positive and realize that challenges like this give you an opportunity seek out help – and that therapy can result in a better, happier marriage than you had before.
Rabbi Simcha Backman, Chabad Jewish Center
Dear Likes Compliments,
“I love myself the way I am, there’s nothing I need to change. I’m beautiful, I’m capable; There’s nothing to rearrange.” Some words to one of my favorite songs. Knowing that you are perfect and great just the way you are, even if you “oops” because you forgot to bring in the mail, that is what is most important for you to focus on rather than “waiting and hoping, and wishing and praying” for compliments from your husband.
Start acknowledging your own self-worth and value and beauty. Look in the mirror every day and say, “I love you” to yourself. It may be uncomfortable to do at first, but keep at it. This issue is really about you first, and your husband secondarily.
Perhaps in his family history, he felt he was not loved or encouraged, so he only knows to pass that behavior on to those around him. And perhaps in your family history, you had feelings of not being loved or appreciated, and that’s why compliments are important to you. In the bigger picture, if everything else makes you “exceptionally happy,” then don’t focus on this one issue. Do continue to compliment and acknowledge him, and perhaps in time he will get the idea and share compliments back to you. Love is the most powerful healing energy of all, and when we surround ourselves and others with love, nothing else matters and those little irritants of human behavior become insignificant in the scheme of the big picture of life.
You are his teacher, and he is yours. Love each other through those frustrating moments
and life will be good, and even better.
Laney Clevenger, White RScP
Center for Spiritual Living – La Crescenta
QUESTION: Everywhere I look, people are on cellphones. Even though laws have been passed about legal consequences for talking and texting while driving, it seems the laws are often being ignored. Jesus said, “Obey the law of the land,” but that doesn’t seem to have any bearing on doing what is right legally and morally for many people.
I’m writing this because while driving on the freeway recently, a person talking on a cellphone started to move over into my lane without even looking. Had I not moved over into another lane, there would have been an accident. It really irritates me that there are those who do not consider the safety of others and themselves as a priority. Although I know others’ actions are none of my business, I welcome any ideas that will help me to not become angry when I observe these laws being broken time after time.
– Safety First
Dear Safety First,
You referenced Romans 13 about obeying earthly laws, but have you considered the fact that God’s laws get broken every single day and not just by ignorant pagans, but by folks like you and me who believe God and read His Bible? Jesus sees everything that distracts us from staying on His straight-and-narrow, and knows every time that we sadly disregard His instructions given for our spiritual commute. He must think we’re all on spiritual cellphones! Just recognize a common human failing which we all share, and forgive violators, but you can always pray for an alert squad-car to happen by…
I think cellphones are just the latest distraction among many. People drive and fix their faces, adjust radios, eat fast food, drink coffee and read maps; sometimes all at once! We’ve all been guilty. I don’t think cellphoners perceive their behavior as unsafe, and that’s why police departments are flooding the streets with penalty threats like, “Text, Talk, Ticket,” or “Dead Man Talking,” which is ironic in that these signs are also distracting as we read them rather than watch the road. And then there are the cell traps.
So I don’t think it’ll be too much longer that we’ll see cell-phoning drivers, but until that time, take a breath, think the best of others and just continue to do what you apparently learned when you first got your license ¬–drive defensively. And may angels surround your vehicle at all times!
Rev. Bryan Griem
Montrose Community Church (CCCC)
Dear Safety First,
Unfortunately, one of the most difficult things for us to accept as Christians who know the Word of God is this: We cannot make others abide by God’s laws or the laws of the land. It is impossible. When people do not, and we are the type of individuals who find ourselves fixated on right and wrong, we often have to learn a very difficult lesson: being able to let go and accept that we cannot change others actions.
That is not to say that we are not right in our perception of things, someone almost running you off the road while talking on the phone is wrong, dangerous, and should be seen by a police officer [and] receive the appropriate fine and reprimand. But alas, if we expect every wrong doing to be discovered and punished, we will be frustrated and disappointed in life.
However, we can do our small part. Writing in was your first step. I am hopeful that this question will convict someone out there, and perhaps save another, from being victim of an accident. Are there other ways you can do your part to speak against texting, cellphone use and driving? This is often how people start a cause – to bring awareness to issues they believe in. Not considering the safety of others is morally wrong. But think of all those who drink, use substances and have other distractions while driving. Some with less of a moral standard, Christian or not, could snicker or be irritated by those pointing out their flaws. We cannot win with our often accurate observations of others’ wrongs. We can only do our small part and pray and let others’ bad habits roll off our back.
This is how you deal with your own anger: acceptance that we cannot control or change other people’s actions. Otherwise, we will be continuously irritated with the sins of others. And find ourselves angry over things we cannot change.
Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian
Kimberlie Zakarian Therapy