This post was first published by Family Life and is used here by permission
One thing to nurture in our marriages is a habit of enthusiastic encouragement.
It’s so important that we express to each other fondness and appreciation even in very small ways: Saying everyday in various ways, “I’m Proud of you.” “I really admire you”“I respect your opinion”.
A very successful doctor runs an intensive care unit for babies at a major hospital. He and his wife have been married for 17 years. During a counseling session the man talked about the very first date he had with his wife.
“I was thinking out of all the women I’d ever met she was the most vivacious,beautiful, exciting, intelligent woman I’d ever known.” Wow. There’s fondness and admiration at work.
Now did his wife know that? In 17 years did she ever know that her husband felt that way about her? She never had a clue because he had never told her.
So the fundamental thing in fondness and admiration is it can’t stay in your head. It’s got to come out the mouth.
We also need to say “thank you” often, for trivial things. “Thank you for doing the dishes” – even if its their turn to do the dishes. You might ask, “Why should I say “thank you” ? I just do stuff, she does stuff, why should we say ‘thank you’? I don’t get much appreciation”.
- Do you like that? Do you like feeling unappreciated? “No!”
- Do you both feel unappreciated? “Yes!”
Ok … so express appreciation. It’s not very complicated. It’s very simple.
It’s easy to do. Easy not to do.
Even making just a small and gentle change in the trajectory of your marriage, can have a dramatic effect over time. The catch is you have to start … and keep going.
So instead of focusing on what is missing, or lacking, in your wife or husband, or on his or her flaws, instead try to focus on strengths or positive attributes – things they do right.
Search for things to praise. Begin with simple things like “Darling, I appreciate the way you take care of our home.”
Here’s your challenge: Give at least one genuine, heart-felt praise to your spouse each day for an entire week. Just one! If you’re able to, extend the exercise one more day … then another … until it becomes a habit. I promise it will be a habit that serves you well because marriages and families thrive in an atmosphere of enthusiastic encouragement.