Today’s question for our What If Summer Series: What if my husband is critical?

It’s like touching a hot stove, the hearing of a critical word. The natural reflex is to pull away to avoid the searing heat of hot and hasty words that leave a pain worse than the blistering ooze of an accidental brush with a hot surface.

But even in the quick pulling away, and the avoidance of that hot and hateful hurt, invisible heat has left its mark. The pain of words remain, a throbbing reminder that fades once new skin has repaired the open and oozing wound. But like a scar lingers, so does the pain of those words branded into our memory. Because words do hurt. . . worse than sticks and stones.

And so, dear sister, the remedy I recommend for a critical word is the same that I apply to a slight skin burn –  coolness and a soothing balm.

When he complains without cause and criticizes without care, rush to the cleansing coolness of the washing of the Word beside still waters. (Eph 5:26, Psalm 23:2). Let God remind you that it doesn’t matter what man says —it matters what He says.

Then apply the cooling balm of Gilead. In the presence of the Lord is healing and restoration — apply that balm through prayer and forgiveness. Later, after the hurt has healed, you can reflect on whether there is any truth in those harsh words — God can use even that to help you to grow — it’s called redemption!

Pray that your husband would learn to build you up with his words by cleansing you with the washing of the water of the Word, instead of using his words to beat down on you like the cataracts from a waterfall.

Until then, react as Jesus did.

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate. (I Peter 2:23)

He always gave a soft answer. (Proverbs 15:1)

Be patient with his weaknesses and faults. (I Cor 13)

And remember that the same water that gushes with enough force to wear away the rocks and turn boulders into pebbles, is the water that with diversion can become a refreshing flow of a cool and cleansing shower, or a pool of refreshing, or living water to sustain you in the desert.

Don’t miss a serene and peaceful float upon the river of romance just because yesterday that same river was a rushing torrent, that left flotsam and jetsam in its wake. Maybe someday you will even learn to enjoy the wild and wet ride on the rapids of white water rafting, as you learn to patiently manage his moods, giving him room to grow, forgiving his human weaknesses, turning a near capsize into the ride of your life!

So, if you find yourself getting burned with his words, smoldering with anger at his insensitivity, and throbbing with the pain of the remembrance of some hasty and hurtful word, then be quick to apply the cool water of the Word and a soothing balm of healing forgiveness and love.

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