If you want to feel uplifted, say something good about your spouse. That's one of the lanes that must be traveled on the highway to a happy marriage. One of the road blocks to that happiness is focusing on and talking about the negative aspects of your mate.

A friend of ours was sad about a recent conversation she had with her daughter-in-law who lives hundreds of miles away. She said:

"Whenever I talk with her on the phone she lets loose with a litany of things that bug her about her husband, my son! Why does she do that? I'm his mother, for crying out loud! It's never even anything very serious. I'm trying to build a good relationship with her and this isn't helping. It just makes me upset at her for not noticing the good things he does, which happen to include that he's a hard working provider and he does a ton of fixing-up around their home, among other things. Why can't she ever talk about that!"

The daughter-in-law is most likely telling her mother-in-law these things because she is hoping that she will intervene and "straighten him up". Which begs the question: What grown-up son is going to let his mother straighten him up? This daughter-in-law's own mother passed away a few years ago so she doesn't have her to tell her marital complaints, which would make matters worse if she did.

To create the desired loving relationship in marriage, couples need to consider the following three guides. These are much like a traffic light at a busy intersection. We all know red means stop, yellow is caution, and green says go. It's time to examine a few guiding lights that assist us on our marital journey.

Stop. See the Danger

A great deal of harm can be done when unpleasant things are continually told about one's mate to one's parents, whether in-laws or your own. That's all the parents will see, even if the deliverer of the negatives still loves his or her mate and finds many desirable qualities in him or her. The parents won't know that side when criticism is all they hear, and their judgement will be significantly impaired or poor counsel may be given. In some cases, we have seen parents become so upset at their child's spouse that they encourage separation or divorce. That would be a tragic mistake.

Keep the bad stuff, which mostly falls in the category of annoying, to yourself. If it's weighing on you, talk it over between the two of you so there can be some resolution. If it's something serious then talk to a pastor or therapist.

Caution. Set a Boundary

On the other hand, if it's the parents who are continually telling their child how inept his or her spouse is, their child may begin to believe it. The relationship between the couple can be severely damaged. It will continue unless a boundary is set by the child saying, respectfully and firmly, to the offending parent, "Do not say anything bad about my husband/wife to me ever again. We can talk later when you are ready to talk kindly about my spouse". Hold firm the boundary.

Go. Tell the Good Stuff

Remember, your marriage is more valuable than any relationship in your life. When it comes to talking about your spouse be sure to share the good things that are happening. Not only will others think well of your mate, but also of you. That's when your love and respect for each other will grow stronger, making your marital journey a far more enjoyable trip.

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