Yesterday I had a text conversation with a friend. She has been frustrated with the lack of spiritual intimacy in their marriage. From her perspective, they have not been attending church or engaging in any spiritual pursuit together. She said that somehow her requests seem to be “making him feel inadequate, as if he can’t do it right.” I suggested that she take baby steps in her requests. Maybe rather than talking with him about ALL they’re not doing that she wants to do, she could start with a request like “I love it when we go to church together. Do you think we could start that again?”
Then she said “Well I guess he has stepped up a little. We have gone to church three weeks in a row. That’s a record for us.”
“So,” I responded, “Have you thanked him for that? Have you said, ‘Honey, thank you so much for making church a priority the last 3 weeks. That means the world to me!'”
Her response: “No, I guess I haven’t. Duh.”
Affirmation is powerful in marriage. It’s a tool we all have in our toolbox but it is used far too infrequently. We quickly focus on what IS NOT happening rather than celebrating, thanking, or affirming our spouse for what IS happening.
When my perspective became skewed and I headed down the road of infidelity, I could only see Jill’s faults and failures. I couldn’t see any good in our marriage, I only saw bad. The truth is we see only what we choose to see. When we start seeing only negative, we have to “take our thoughts captive” and move our focus to what is good and what can be affirmed.
This doesn’t mean we don’t address things that need to be addressed. It means that we take some intentional steps to move our focus from the bad to the good. This helps us balance our perspective and even take steps to speak words of life, words of appreciation, and words of affirmation to our spouse.
During our separation, there was one interaction that we had that was very powerful for me. I asked Jill how to handle a certain situation. Jill paused before responding to me with these powerful words, “Mark, you are a man after God’s own heart who has lost his way. I will not tell you how to handle this situation because I believe you already know what to do.”
Why was that so powerful? She affirmed me! She believed in me. In fact, she believed in me enough to trust that I would make a right decision without her input. That was powerful affirmation for me.
What about you? What is your spouse doing that you haven’t thanked him or her for? Where have you been focusing on the negative that you need to balance out with some positives? Where could some daily words of affirmation change the dynamic in your marriage?
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, Hearts at Home is offering a huge giveaway for all who have joined us for the No More Perfect Marriages blog series and Marriage Mondays! All you have to do to be entered into the drawing is to share a comment on this post with one takeaway from the No More Perfect Marriage blog series or the last two Marriage Mondays that has really caused you to think or has already made a difference in your marriage. You can also share a thought/question about something you would love to see us address in a future Marriage Monday or in the upcoming No More Perfect Marriages book. We will take comments until noon CST on Tuesday, Feb 10 and then draw 30 winners! Ten winners will get Family Life’s Simply Romantic Nights Resource Pack, ten will win a Dr. Kevin Leman marriage book, and ten will win Hearts at Home Marriage Love Notes to help you encourage your spouse’s heart! You can share your comment and enter the giveaway here!