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The Curse Of Criticism
Series: When Leaders Live Together
How Two Strong Personalities Can Thrive In Marriage
Larry and Devi Titus
Though Paul fails to mention it in his first letter to the Corinthian church, I'm positive that many husbands and wives believe that one more gift should be added to the list of spiritual gifts in chapter twelve-the gift of criticism. Most often, this gift manifests itself among couples shortly after they say, ''I do.'' It consists of delivering regular put-downs and belittling remarks. It specializes in exposing faults, harping on weaknesses, condemning constantly, and engaging in miscellaneous forms of nitpicking. In the end, the silver-tongued condemner stands as the victor and the vanquished becomes a cowering failure, lacking any sense of value or self-confidence.
The gift of criticism is quite often exercised by just one of the marriage partners, who, in the early stages of the marriage, feels that his calling in life is to change his mate. The goal is to make the necessary changes to see her trans- formed into his own image. It requires that the ''gifted'' spouse reveal, expose, and magnify every perceived fault in the seemingly less ''gifted'' partner. Unless other faults become exposed during the process, the ultimate intended result is the perfection of one's mate. Hallelujah!
Things heat up a bit when both partners are ''talented'' at criticism. This double blessing (curse) generally arrives when both partners can skillfully participate in verbal boxing matches. In this scenario, they try to outdo each other with snippets of sarcasm and tit for tat vocal jabs. Neither one is willing to back down when attacked. Each person's goal is to verbally out spar the other with hurtful words until he or she achieves a knockout punch. Some- times, the boxing match can go on for months and even years. Unfortunately, the competition never really ends and the scars can last a lifetime.
The Devastation Of Criticism
Whether criticism comes mostly from one partner or both, the end result is the same-devastation. Neither spouse rises to his full potential while being attacked by the other. The ''gift of criticism'' is obviously the fruit of the human, carnal spirit, rather than the fruit of the Holy Spirit. What is it in human nature that is more prone to see and point out the partner's weaknesses rather than the partner's strengths? Why would a husband destroy the self-worth in his wife, or a wife discredit her husband's sense of value? Why is it easier to defame a person than to encourage a person? Either choice requires the same amount of words.
There is nothing more devastating than the unleashed, uncontrolled tongue. It can make failures out of even the most potential-filled partners. Do we really know the devastating effects of continual criticism? No one can survive it. James, a writer in the New Testament, proves a ...
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