A popular bumper sticker slogan reads, “Have you hugged your kids today?” Another equally important phrase that you can copy and paste to your refrigerator, bathroom mirror or forehead is: Have You Praised Your Spouse Today?
A daily dose of praise, whether in the form of a word picture or just a statement like “Great dinner, Honey” or “You are so kind to other people” or even “You make me so proud the way you handle the children” can do wonders in a relationship.
Spoken words that attach high value to our spouse are so powerful that they can enrich almost any marriage. Why not try a project in your home to discover just how true this statement can be?
For one month, 30 days, praise at least one thing you appreciate about your spouse each day. Be sure you point out things about his or her character (being kind, generous, thoughtful, punctual, organised and so on), as well as what they accomplish. Don’t tell your husband or wife you’re doing this. We give this assignment to many couples in counselling, and it in itself has caused positive changes in relationships.
The Power of a (Word) Picture
While we have talked about using word pictures to praise a husband or wife, they can also be used to help discuss an important issue or avoid a heated argument. By using a word picture to convey a concern we have (instead of lashing out with damaging words), we can often motivate our mate to change and get across a message we can’t seem to get across only with words.
Don and Bee are dear friends who have attended several of our relationship seminars. As part of these seminars, couples and singles, learn how to use word pictures with their spouse, their children, or in any meaningful relationship.
Bee had been struggling with something in her marriage for quite a long time; something that ate away at her self-confidence and caused her constant embarrassment over the years. She was bothered about the condition of their house. It wasn’t an issue of the lack of finances as Don’s business was doing well. As a couple, they were both generous with their time as well as their hospitality. Don especially was always inviting friends and guests home to dinner.
Bee was every bit as hospitable, but she was the one having to struggle in an undersized kitchen to feed all the guests, or broken lights and fixtures hanging from the ceiling, or leaking pipes and taps.
It was not a question of finances that held Don back from renovating the home; it was his frugal nature. Bee understood her husband’s trait and made do with the situation as best she could.
After learning about using word pictures to communicate a concern with her spouse, Bee decided she would share one with her husband to describe her feelings toward the home she was living in. Here is the word picture she used:
“Don, I feel like you’re the game warden who takes such good care of the trout in the waterways around our house. You help keep the streams and ponds clean, and even make sure that when the trout are spawning, they have help getting upstream.
“When we were first married, I felt like I was one of those trout in the stream. I could see you standing on the bank, and I longed for you to scoop me up in a net and take me to the stream by your house. Then one day you did come for me with a net and gently picked me out of the water. It was the happiest time of my life; but instead of ending up in the little stream, you put me in an old, rusty barrel filled with fresh water.
“For 22 years you’ve made sure I had plenty of food and you’ve kept the water clean, but I long for the day when you will pick me up in your net and put me in that little stream by your house. Don, that’s the way I feel about living in this house. I feel like we’re living in a rusty barrel, and it makes it hard on me and the people we have over to the house.”
Bee’s years of longing came to an end that night. She had talked to her husband numerous times about this subject and had even tried to share her feelings with him about their living situation. Yet Don had never seemed to understand how important it was to her, until she shared this word picture with him.
Don loved his wife deeply and had attached a high value to her throughout their marriage. He did not want to devalue her in any way, so when he finally understood through this story how she really felt about their house, he responded immediately. Together, they hired a designer and contractor to draw up the plans for renovating their home, a home where she could enjoy having people over, serve them better, and have a comfortable place for them to stay.
Whether you use a word picture in praising your spouse or in sharing a concern, it can be a helpful tool to communicate words of high value to your spouse.
Adapted from The Gift of the Blessing, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. Copyright © 2004 by John Trent and Gary Smalley. All rights reserved. Used by permission.