Friday, January 15, 2010

On Criticism

Criticism, friends, is perhaps 'the' paramount contributor to interpersonal strife, and more importantly, marrital strife. Besides for the obvious "being worthy of criticism" or not, the two main components to this phenomenon are how criticism is given and how criticism is taken.

I would suppose the main reason why individuals feel the need to give criticism in marriage is a certain infallible image they had about their spouse which there has been reason for them to become disillusioned with, which obviously makes them feel deeply and emotionally disappointed.

This is a topic that interests me not only because I hope to have a romantic relationship with someone in the future, and know that it usually ends in criticism battles, "wars of justification" if you will, but more importantly, going back to the "criticism worthy" point, because I myself am generally more worthy of criticism than most people, yet I can rarely remember attempting to reveal to someone the injustice of their ways unless I had first been criticized by them. Only at that point would I try to show them that they themselves are not free of blame.

Personally, I don't think it's healthy or possible not to criticize, and I certainly don't hope to avoid it. But within the "תורת הביקורת", I feel there are some very simplistic guidelines which would help:

In regards to giving criticism: to try not to criticize your spouse when possible, and to overlook all injustices done towards you, and not take to heart all unmet expectations disillusionments about them. And when criticism is necessary, to do it in a cordial, friendly and not overly serious manner. Rather then "Why are you never home and having relations with someone else?!", perhaps "You know (name), I think it would be nice if you were home once in a while and didn't have sexual relationships with other people", etc.

In regards to getting criticism: once having had your attention brought to a negative aspect of yourself, to try to refrain from such actions in the future, and not to instead question the very legitimacy of the criticism, considering the critic is no less worthy of criticism.

It should be kept in mind though, that many times even people who marry and are in love have deep and intrinsic differences, and at times cannot possibly hope to meet each others needs and desires on all levels. The love itself is just the illusion of unity. But it is just such an illusion which brought them together, and just such an illusion which must exist if any man and woman are going to be living in any amount of harmony with each other. Unless they concentrate on child-rearing and act as divorcees under their own roof. ...which is also an option. Well, that or divorce, which is sometimes called for...


kisarita said...

nice post. some people are more sensitive to criticism than others. I personally am incredibly sensitive. Criticism phrased as a suggestion is probably more effective for people like me.

You are right, most people criticize in self defense. All good intentions go to the wind. you remember my post about my older neighbor, i started by trying to be nice, but when she continued (to the point of waking me up when I'm sleeping!) I have just let go and told her every mean thing in the book. Not very proud of that. And it sure didn't help matters either.
saying sorry never hurts.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Thank you for reading madam.

Criticism phrased as a suggestion is undoubtedly more effective for everyone. Surely you've read Dale Carnegie? : )

"You are right, most people criticize in self defense."- That is untrue. There are definite aggressors. It cannot be said that neither party, or neither spouse, is truly culpable. Just like the Arab-Israeli conflict; "somebody" started it!

"you remember my post about my older neighbor"- Yes, but I still don't believe much is accomplished through voice-raising. My personal belief is that every conflict can be sorted out on couches, in good humor, over cigarettes and whiskey...