“My wife left me last year. She had been seeing another man behind my back and didn’t want to try and work through any issues we had even though she was no longer seeing this guy. Anyway, we have recently started dating again and she says she can feel a real change in me. I’ve been learning about unconditional love and it’s helped me see what a selfish idiot I was before. The thing is, she’s still pretty critical and judgemental herself. Is there anything I can do to help her with that because I know that thinking like that keeps her trapped in her own fears.”
It is amazing that you have been doing what you have done. Very few people actually take the time and effort to really learn about what unconditional love is. Some people reject it outright, most think they already know what it is, and some just give up from making the effort. Those, like you, who really learn about it, can make such a remarkable difference in their life – and I can hear such a loving kindness in your email.
The big clue is the change your wife can feel in you. When we learn about what unconditional love really is, people notice a significant change in how it feels to be around us. So, good for you. I bet it feels good for you to.
So, back to your question. Your wife is critical and judgemental because she doesn’t feel good about herself. She criticises and judges out of habit, but it’s a habit that temporarily makes her feel better and superior to other people. If she were able to realise she was amazing in her own right, then she wouldn’t need to keep comparing herself to everyone else, nor judging them or critically putting them down in her own words.
So, there are two key things you can do. Firstly, do everything you can to continue learning about unconditional love and how to convey your growing loving of your wife to her. Learn how to help her feel loved, how to be kind to her, how to be truly grateful, and keep learning to lessen your own selfishness around her. Feeling genuinely and unconditionally loved is a wonderful feeling and will help your wife feel much more confident about who she really is.
Secondly, when you are with her, occasionally, and I mean occasionally, you can point out to your wife when she is being critical or judgemental. It is important that when you do this, you do it because you want to help her feel better and not because her judgement or criticism isn’t making you feel good.
You must work out for yourself what is a good way to point it out to her but it is essential that you would preface anything you point out to her with a question asking her whether she is in a place to hear any feedback from you. You might say “Sweetheart, I have noticed something that you do that I know doesn’t make you happy. I don’t need to point it out to you but I’d be willing to at a time that’s good for you.”
Then you kindly and clearly describe what you see, without needing her to gush with gratitude for your remarkable wisdom and insight. She may not be able to see what you see, she may not be able to understand what you describe, she may feel you are attacking her and she might get very defensive. Just calmly say, “I’m just trying to love you. I’ll keep working to do it better.” and move on to talk about something else.
In time, as she feels more and more loved by the changes in you and the other new ways you are loving your wife, you will be able to point out the things she is doing that hurt herself and she will be able to see your genuine care for her, she’ll feel it and she’ll learn something from it, all for her benefit.
Unconditional love transforms marriages. I hope that your question and this answer helps people to see the beauty of it.