At one point the little temperature gauge in my car read 103 degrees. At the height of the heat I got a quick text from my wife. It read,
“The pool is so awesome. Thank you so much for getting it and putting it up.”
The day came to a close and as I walked out to my car after a long day at work. I walked beside another person and mentioned that I got a thank you from my spouse about setting up the pool. What I heard back caught me a little off guard.
“I sent a thank you to my spouse as well for putting the air conditioners in the windows…and they are still sitting in the basement and not installed.”
I felt the need to clarify.
“No, it was a real thank you because they appreciate the pool on such a hot day. It was not a sarcastic thank you.”
The person looked confused and only replied with a puzzled, “oh” and got in their car and drove off. I thought to myself, “Wow, this person thought my spouse was being critical of me and was joining in about their spouse.”
This reminded me of how often I hear other people criticizing their spouses or significant others, their friends, and even this kids in front of others. I grew up around a lot of people who would do this, and it has taken a lot of effort to not follow in that path.
Why do we feel so compelled to express such dissatisfaction with others? What makes matters worse is how often I hear it happen in front of the person being criticized.
“He is just not that handy around the house, and we have to pay a lot to get simple things done around our house.”
“She is not great at managing the day-to-day, so I have to step in a lot.”
“They are not that sharp, and I don’t know how they are going to make it after highschool.”
I am heading to a party with a lot of couples and their kids this afternoon, and I am going to count how many times I hear this happening (maybe it could someday be a kind of a sad bingo game for parties). For the next week or so, take the time to listen for it, you may be amazed at how often this occurs. When you hear it happening, have the courage to step in and provide an encouraging word or re-direct the conversation. And if you catch yourself doing it…Stop it.