When you get married, you soon find out that your spouse can be your greatest accountability partner. Who better to show you your flaws and areas for improvement than the person closest to you? After all, your spouse has inside access to the best and worst parts of your character. They love you unconditionally and have your back. So the growth potential is huge when you get married. But growth is conditional on your attitude towards that criticism.
I’m a very sensitive person, and not only that, I’ve got the good girl syndrome. I’m used to people on the outside patting me on the back for my kindness, intelligence, and diligence. My husband’s personality, though, is similar to that of a football coach. He’s super hard on himself and doesn’t accept anything less than 100% from himself, which is great. But when he started treating me the same way, we found ourselves butting heads a lot. In my mind I felt like he was always focusing on the stuff I was doing wrong and not spending enough time praising me for what I’d done right.
One of the things we argue about all the time is the dishes. When we got married we agreed that each person would wash their own dish, which in theory sounded great. But then when I would cook big meals, I’d be tired afterward and leave pots and pans stacked up in the sink. I thought to myself, I’m entitled to a break. I cooked this meal, he can do his part and clean the dishes. Or I would do laundry and leave the clothes unfolded for one day, then two, which turned into the whole week. But then I would turn around and get on my husband for leaving his socks and other clothes on the floor of our room. I would make up rules for keeping our house organized, but then break them myself. When my husband started holding me accountable and telling me about myself, I would feel hurt and unappreciated when really he was just trying to hold up the standard we had agreed on.
These examples sound trivial, but trust me when I say that sharing a house with someone really brings out your strengths and weaknesses in a unique way. And while my husband has always been open to my critiques, I realized that I put myself on a pedestal and wasn’t doing the same for him. So after a while, he stopped trying. He felt like any critique he wanted to give me would just turn into another argument, so for the sake of peace, he stayed silent. And that’s not the way a marriage, or any kind of partnership, should work. So how does a person become more open to constructive criticism and accountability?
1. Remember that your spouse is your ally. When your spouse is telling you about yourself, it’s coming (hopefully) from a genuine desire to see you be the best person you can be. From housekeeping, to professional decisions, to how you raise your kids, everything you do is an index to your character. So when your spouse or even a friend points out your flaws or weaknesses, don’t take it personally. Take what they’re saying, do some self-evaluation, and apply it wherever necessary.
2. Develop a growth mindset. Everyone has room for improvement. You may be a genius in the workplace, but suck when it comes to personal relationships; or it may be vice versa. When you’re focused on growing as a person, critique will be easier for you to process, and you’ll even find yourself seeking out people to give you constructive criticism. So when your spouse points things out to you, you’ll appreciate their efforts to help you grow.
Till next time!