Shortly after graduation, Joe and Lana married. One of their first marital discoveries was their very different understanding of "being on time." Not wanting to end the honeymoon stage too early, Lana found herself mildly complaining about Joe's being late. But Joe never took the hint, and soon her complaining turned to out-right criticism.
On the surface, there may not seem to be much difference between exposing a problem and criticizing, but in a relationship, the choice of words can bring very different responses. Criticism attacks someone's personality and character. When Lana criticized Joe, she would say, "You're only thinking about yourself!"
Putting an issue on the table for discussion in a positive manner is the first step toward finding a resolution. A person who asks gently, "Does it embarrass you when we are late?" is opening a dialog for finding the solution to the problem. Criticism only wounds the spirit, puts the other person on the defensive, and usually ends up in a no-resolution argument.
Watch what you say! Criticism can cause a wound that takes years to heal, but a kind and gracious attitude in problem-solving can save you years of tears.
Correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.
2 Timothy 4:2