I was heading out the door when Karen asked, “What do you want for dinner?” I knew she’d be busy all day and was nervous about leaving a new Bible study in the evening. So I answered, “I’ll grab something for us on the way home”. Karen blurted out in girly frustration, “My mom would have never done that. She’d always have dinner on the table”. I responded correctly for a change, “Yeah, but your mom never did all the things that you’re doing for others“. 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-energizing our marriages…Sharing positive words of affirmation…these are all great demonstrations of love for our mates.
Here’s three ways we can get started.
Be intentional about looking for positive traits and behaviors. My problem is that I expect Karen to do the right things and good things, and we don’t praise the actions and attitudes we expect from each other. And when I fail to recognize her character and the effort it takes to continue doing these positive and good things, she can grow weary in doing what’s 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.
Be specific. “You’re amazing”. While that’s nice to hear, what does it really mean? Explain why you’re making that comment. For example, “The way you spoke to Johnny and handled that situation without getting upset was truly 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 is going to be a positive statement is heard as something sarcastic or phony. God wants us to build one another up. We get beat up enough by the world every day. Our marriages should be a place of safety from destructive words. When you speak positive words of encouragement to build up your spouse, you’re ministering to them. Paul says in Ephesians 4:29 “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.”