Last night I attended a stake fireside given by Dr. John Lund, a marriage and family counselor and educator. One of the wedding presents that Dave and I got were some CDs of some lectures that he gave, and we've really enjoyed them. So I thought that I would also enjoy this fireside, and I was not disappointed.
One concept that he talked about was our purpose in our family relationships. Even if someone is really far off of the gospel path, making bad decisions, and making themselves miserable, it is not our duty to force them back. Our calling as family members is to love them, not to judge them. And they won't listen to us or be able to realize that we love them if all we do is criticize them.
Dr. Lund suggested that family members take their love to their loved ones, and then take their frustrations to the Lord. This doesn't mean ignoring things that need to change in a relationship. This doesn't mean putting up with abuse. But it does mean that because you can't force someone to change, you need to put your faith into prayer to the Lord and then just love that person anyway.
He also talked about how to approach someone with a critical thought, which he also talked about in his recorded lectures. He said that each spouse needs to tell the other person how they want to hear about their own faults. So I might say to Dave that I always want him to approach me with criticism right after I've eaten, or right after I've woken up, so that I'm physically ready to receive criticism. (I'll tell you what, I hate talking about important things right before bed because I'm usually tired and thus cranky, and the important talk usually puts off bedtime too.) And then Dave should respect that wish, and only approach me with criticisms at the times that I've told him it would be okay. This prevents him from just telling me his opinion whenever he's feeling frustrated, and it helps me be in a good frame of mind to receive his opinion well.
There is so much more that I could say about Dr. Lund's talk. I would highly recommend that you buy his CDs or take an opportunity to hear him speak if you get the chance. But my take home lesson from last night is that the Atonement is so real that we really don't need to force our family members to heaven. They will get there one way or the other, regardless of our nagging. So we might as well get rid of the negative criticism and just love each other.