Marriage Minute: Competition or Complement?

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Marriage Minute: Do you complement your spouse or compete with him? 

One of the most difficult issues in my marriage has been my tendency to view my relationship with my husband as a competition. Thanks to my extreme type A personality, I was determined to win that competition at all costs. The only problem is that “winning” at marriage doesn’t look like winning in other areas of life.

Do I always have to be right?

Do I always have to know everything?

Do I always have to win at Scrabble?


I can love my husband better by stopping the competition and being a complement to him. So what does being a complement look like?



The tendency in American society today is to make men look stupid and incompetent. If I play into this lie by constantly complaining and telling my husband what he is doing wrong, I will have one unhappy man on my hands. An unhappy man means a man unmotivated to work at loving his wife.

I just saw yesterday that Scarlett Johansen admitted that she was probably at fault in her divorce from Ryan Reynolds because she has a tendency to be critical. We can all learn from that statement.



We all have those moments when we know that our husband is wrong, but when I am constantly proving myself right or arguing to prove my point, I am actually tearing down my husband.

Maybe I am right at the moment, but what if I let him keep his dignity and keep my knowledge to myself? Later, if it turns out that I am right, it’s easier for him to admit it because I haven’t been rude about it. If it turns out I was wrong, I don’t look quite as foolish.

Of course I am not going to become a wall flower or a door mat. Communication is key in a marriage and problems need to be addressed rather than ignored. Nagging about a problem that I have already talked about, however, is rarely productive. Keeping my mouth shut and agreeing for the sake of relationship at prudent intervals can make for a much happier marriage (and can even motivate my husband to make changes later down the road).



We’ve all seen it on tv–the woman who gives her husband the cold shoulder or denies him sexual intimacy because he did something she didn’t like. This woman is punishing the man in her life in a manipulative way.

What if instead I look for things that my husband is doing right and praise him for it? When we praise and complement our husbands they will want to be around us, and they will be more motivated to love us sacrificially. Just make sure that you are giving genuine praise, not simply saying words to build up his ego in a false way.


If you’d like a little encouragement for a better marriage, here are two FREE printable resources thanks to Bob and Yvonne Turnbull:




Just promise not to use the second one against your husband. :)

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  1. Laura says

    I love this post, I have lost boyfriends for being too critical, and have caused fights over the stupidest little things. I need to put things in perspective more often and remember “When we praise and complement our husbands they will want to be around us” Amen.
    Thanks for putting yourself out there in this blog it’s wonderful :)

  2. says

    This really hit home with me. I am often too critical with my spouse. We are very different people and it works..but I do often get “show-y” around my friends and verbally assault him (meaning to be playful, but I know it hurts him). I now know how that it hurts his feelings and makes him angry. I will be using your ideas and putting them into motion. Thank you for this article! (And really everything you do on this page…I love it!)

  3. Dineen says

    I want to tell you how much I love this. It is so well written. Just today I caught myself shutting my mouth as I was about to offer to do something my husband was struggling to get done. I realized that he needed to do it and that if I did, I would end up causing hurt feelings, un-manning him. I find it a narrow way to tread with my Autistic husband who sometimes could use help doing some things, but certainly doesn’t need to be overwhelmed or feel criticized or outdone.

  4. Lissie says

    I found your blog while looking at budgeting on pinterest. Reading through most of it a lot more than budgeting applies to my and my marriage. I often compete with him instead of complementing. And soon enough we’re arguing. He has told me that I do it but I didn’t see it. Reading through it I can deffinatly see where I need to improve myself. Thanks.

  5. casey says

    Really hit home with me! I am SUCH a critical person and at times I will find myself just really letting go on him. Later I think wow I would never tolerate that from him. Do you think it really is just a woman thing to be so critical or nit picky? Do think maybe that sometimes it’s a reflection of really not being happy with yourself too? i wish there was some pill I could take to just stop it! lol Once again I am finding all kinds of stuff on this blog that is just perfect for me right now.

    • says

      Hi Casey- I don’t know if it’s a “woman” thing, but I do know that I tend to let frustration build up about other things and then let it out on my husband if I am not careful. I am learning (slowly) to vent by writing or talking to a friend FIRST. It’s not easy, but it also helped that we separated for 3 months a few years ago and I realized that no matter how imperfect he is, he is still my best friend and I want to be married to him. It made me more grateful, which has in turn, helped me not be so angry at him. Hope this helps. :)

  6. Nancy says

    Thank you so much for this blog (and for the links to the articles at the bottom). Like another reader who left a comment, I found your blog while looking at budgeting on Pinteret. The timing was uncanny, since I had literally just gotten into an arguement with my husband (about feeling ignored and unappreciated) and had stubbornly decided to sleep in our spare bedroom. It helped me see how so many of the things I do (competing, always having to get the last word, criticizing, etc.) contribute to tearing down our relationship – and push my husband away, rather than drawing him in- and gave me an entirely different perspective on our situation last night (and overall). Thanks again!

      • says

        I just got to read this article, and I totally found my behaviour. I feel like I’m always too critical with my man, most of all when it come to household chores.
        We both have a full time job, and when we’re home he wants to help me with chores like filling the dishwasher, sweeping floors, cleaning the bathroom or tidy up a bit.
        Instead of being grateful for his help I always tend to criticize him because that dish in the dishwasher has still crumbs on it, or because the floor isn’t clean as it is when I clean it, and same thing with the bathroom.

        Obviously he doesn’t clean in the accurate way I do, but I would like to praise him for his will to help me (even if sometimes I have to redo that chore again, or I don’t find things after he decluttered the countertop and placed everything randomly in a drawer), but I can’t help myself.
        Surely if I’ll continue to criticize his work, one day he’ll stop helping me because “if you’re that good at it, just do it by yourself”, and he would be right. It’s the same thing I told sometimes to my mother, when I did chores and she criticized me for not doing things “as perfectly as she does it” (and the idea to have become fussy like my mother is not that funny).
        I also tried to teach him my cleaning routines and methods, without success (read: he still do things in his own way).

        Should I try to be less fault-finding, focus on his effort and be pleased with it? Or do you have suggestions in how to successfully coach your husband in houseworks? :)

        • says

          It’s so hard not to criticize when others do things differently, but I think you are right. Being grateful for his help will improve your relationship. There are so many women who would love to have a man who wants to help around the house!

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