This is such a simple sentence and yet it is packed with truth that can be challenging to live. When we find ourselves in conflict we forget some aspects of this instruction. In an argument we tend to only see truth through our own eyes without looking at how the situation may look to the person with whom we are in conflict. When we are angry with our spouse we see things in a distorted manner, where everything seems like an offense.
Sometimes we can see a distortion, but we are unwilling to offer any correction because we are uncomfortable with conflict or we are afraid of upsetting our spouse. We may struggle with what is the loving way to approach a situation and so we ignore it altogether. We value having a spouse who loves us enough to set us straight when we are wrong. We will grow best when we have a spouse who holds us accountable and encourages our spiritual growth. When we don’t do this we allow the devil a foothold in our relationships. We miss valuable opportunities for growth when we shy away from conflict.
We may be speaking truthfully, but if it is done outside of love, it will never be heard. John Gottman , research psychologist, found that we need a ratio of 5 positive comments to 1 negative to maintain health in a relationship. This can be a real challenge when we are angry or frustrated! Without love our corrective will only be heard as condemnation. Our goal should never be to beat our spouse down. When we speak the truth in a loving way we create the perfect environment for transformation.
Are you able to give criticism constructively? Can you accept criticism and learn from it?
Precious Lord, Grant us the grace to speak the truth in love. May we work to encourage one another. Grant us the grace to accept constructive criticism and grow from it.