Most of us don't think we criticize our husbands. Some of us are honest enough to admit to offering him "constructive criticism" (as if that were not pure myth) at one time or another. I really thought I was doing pretty good in this area--not in a self-righteous way exactly, but in a way that I told myself I could work on a different problem area and leave that one behind.
My husband is very efficient at work. He's become a manager at every place he has worked because he knows how to get things done and how to work with employees. Late in one of my pregnancies, I struggled to get laundry done because of having to navigate two flights of stairs with a bulging belly and a full laundry basket with ever-increasing fatigue. Ever helpful and efficient, he came to my rescue. After carrying the heavy baskets to the basement laundry room, he put a load I had started in the dryer and another in the washer. When the washer load was done, the dryer had not yet stopped running, so he piled the wet clothes atop the dryer and refilled the washer. This is not the way I usually do laundry. Of course, I also was not getting the laundry done in a timely fashion, which is why he was helping in the first place. I laughingly shared his laundry methods with my mom in the presence of my husband a bit later. We all chuckled about the different way we do things and I forgot about it.
Much later, my husband and I were having a conversation about working around the house, and he stated that when he helped it wasn't good enough for me. I was truly shocked. I never felt that way at all! I asked him to explain, and he reminded me of the time he helped with laundry and I didn't like how it was done.
In my mind, I had been making a joke. In his mind, I had been complaining about his work. Yes, we think differently--men and women. However, not all criticism is mean-spirited and angry. I am trying to remember as a wife that what I say in front of others or even directly to my husband should be judged by its content as critical or not. Even if I say it in a "nice" or "funny" way, it can be criticism. One definition of criticism, according to dictionary.com is " the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of... work, ...etc." Well, I guess my evaluation of Jeff's laundry job was criticism then because it wasn't "how I would have done it".
A wise, older lady I once knew often said, "Behind every joke is something that's not very funny." Will you accept the challenge with me? Let's make sure our words are edifying and inspiring--not just on the surface but all the way to the content.