“Speak only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs [not your needs, but theirs] that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
I was heading out the door when Karen asked: “What do you want for dinner?” I knew she would be busy all day and was nervous about leading a new Bible study in the evening. So, I answered: “I’ll grab something for us on the way home.” Karen blurted out in guilty frustration “My mom would never have done that … she would always have dinner on the table.” I responded(correctly for a change): “Yes, but your mom never did all the things that you do.” Karen stopped what she was in the middle of … looked up with a sense of relief and said: “Thank you! I needed to hear that!”
Speaking life into our spouses re-energizes our marriages. Sharing positive words of affirmations is a great demonstration of love for our mates.
Here are some ways you can get started:
Be intentional about looking for positive traits and behaviors
My problem is that I expect Karen to do the right things. We don’t praise the actions and attitudes we expect from each other. When I fail to recognize her character and the effort it takes to continue doing positive things … she can ‘grow weary in doing what is right;’ and that’s not good! So, I need to be intentional about verbalizing my appreciation and admiration for who she is and what she does!
“You’re amazing!” While it’s nice to hear … what does it really mean? Explain why you’re making that comment. “The way you spoke to Johnny about that situation was amazing!”
Be genuine and sincere
Some of us feel awkward in giving affirmations … and when we do share them … we use an unnatural voice that sounds insincere to our spouses. What we’re hoping will be a positive statement is heard as a sarcastic or phony one.
God wants us to build one another up. We get “beat up” by the world every day. Our marriages should be a place of safety from destructive words. When you speak positive words of encouragement that build up your spouse … you’re ministering to them!
Knee to Knee Nose to Nose Questions:
Do you feel affirmed enough by your spouse? How much affirmation do you want or need?
Why do you struggle with giving or receiving affirmation?
Think about one positive character trait your spouse has and affirm that trait in him or her.
Think about one action that your spouse has done recently that you appreciated but didn’t acknowledge … do it now.