Put on a heart of compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
In a classic Sunday comic
strip from Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, Linus is eating a sandwich and
Lucy is nearby as he begins to ponder. “Hands are fascinating
things,” he says. “I like my hands. I think I have nice hands. My
hands seem to have a lot of character. These are hands which may someday
accomplish great things. These are hands which may someday do marvelous works.
They may build mighty bridges, or heal the sick, or hit home runs, or write
soul-stirring novels. These are hands which may someday change the course of
A moment of silence. Then Lucy’s one-line reply: “They’ve got jelly on
Even as we laugh, we know that Lucy’s comment is typical of the way she treats
other people. And, unfortunately, it is also a picture of how you can treat
your spouse. Rather than encouraging your spouse and building him or her up,
you choose instead of be the voice of criticism and harsh reality.
Dr. John Gottman, a leading expert in sociological research, conducted a
10-year study to determine the types of communication — both verbal and
nonverbal — that make it
least likely for a marriage to survive and go the distance. The
four critical elements he determined as being the most detrimental?
- Criticism — nagging, deflating,
picking at each other
- Contempt — rolling your eyes,
discounting the other’s value
- Defensiveness — refusing to
hear the truth or to deal with self
- Stonewalling — retreating,
withdrawing, not saying anything
Do any of these behaviors
characterize the way you treat your spouse? In order to minimize conflict in
your home, you need to be supportive of each other by what you say and how you
Take a look at how you
are relating with one another and see how you can use attitudes and words to
strengthen and encourage one another. Would you say you are generally
encouraging or critical to your spouse? How would your spouse answer that
Invite the Lord to intervene in your conscience
every time you feel like taking your spouse apart.