~ By Virginia Andelin Leavitt, FW Committee
“Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain,” wrote Dale Carnegie more than 80 years ago in his phenomenal bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People. In fact, “don’t criticize” is at the very top of Carnegie’s “Fundamental Techniques in Handling People” list. And it’s not surprising. No one wants to be around a person who is finding fault with them. Encouraging words, rather than criticism, is a must when it comes to making friends.
However, when it comes to a woman who really wants to “win and influence” her husband, Mr. Carnegie’s counsel is crucial. A marriage relationship can cultivate the closest friendship possible. Yet if a husband finds himself being scrutinized by his wife, he may wish he were anywhere else but within the sound of her voice. It is uncomfortable for anyone to have their deficiencies the focus of conversation, but it is especially discouraging for a man who wants to impress his wife.
Of course, the wife means well. She is not malicious. As his confidant, she intends to bring out her husband’s defects for his own good- to help him be a better person and reach his potential. How else will he overcome his weaknesses?
I was fortunate to have a mom who saw eye-to-eye with Dale Carnegie. Her oft-quoted maxim to me was:
“Instead of trying to make your husband better, try to make him happy.”
Long before I was married, Mom explained that a husband doesn’t want his wife to point out his faults. Most likely he already knows them. She also said that the wife who concentrates on her husband’s strengths will do more for his self-improvement than all the well-meaning, heart-to-heart talks about his failings. More importantly, a woman’s sincere appreciation is nourishment for a man’s vulnerable, masculine feelings; admiration from the woman he loves is vital to his happiness.
“Try making him happy”. Mom’s maxim for marriage is still a good one. Between Mom and Carnegie, there is certainty for the wife who plans to “win and influence” her best friend.