A couple of weeks ago I wrote this post for The Courage.
Here are a few excerpts that I think are important for this post:
“Last week my husband, Bobby, sat me down for one of the most encouraging conversations we have ever had in our marriage life.
He took time to list out every single reason why I was awesome.
I am sharing this now not because I want to puff myself up, but because of the soothing nature of this conversation. His words made me feel loved during a time of hard healing.
We both are a bit prone to focus on the negatives of our marriage. For myself, I focus on how I can be improving. I beat myself up a lot. I know I don’t deserve grace, but instead of feeling thankful for God’s grace, I feel miserable. I can stay there feeling that way for days as my pride takes sinful cuts at my heart. I shouldn’t be so sinful, but I am. I should be a better wife, a better mom, a better writer, a better whatever.
Bobby gets focused on what he does right and feels bitter when I don’t praise or appreciate him enough for what he does. He also focuses on what he could do better but because he wants to avoid conflict with me. Peace in our marriage becomes an idol and if it’s disrupted, I’m the one to blame.”
The day that he sat down with me to tell me how awesome I was, his accountability partner had just challenged him to list specific ways I had been improving as a wife.
That made him so ashamed, because he had just listed off the many ways he had been improving and changing yet he was drawing a blank for me.
He knew that wasn’t actually true, because he could think of general areas.
But bitterness so often got in the way of him rejoicing in God for our marriage and me.
So when he sat down to give me this outpouring of praise, I was so stunned, but I didn’t want to forget this moment. I got out my phone and documented everything he said so I could look back and be encouraged.
These reminders aren’t about my own glory, but they are helpful in the midst of a storm when my mind and emotions tell me that my marriage sucks. But that’s a lie. It really doesn’t.
So what did Bobby say?
He listed out characteristics and also gave specific examples. When he said I was an encouraging person, he added how I encouraged him. When he said I loved the kids, he gave several examples of things I did that he didn’t do for them.
Most things he listed were things that were indeed true, but I had never actually heard him praise or give notice to before, like my compassion for the hurting toward injustices in the US.
After this conversation, I saw a change in our marriage. Bobby started being much more sweet toward me. Our fight for him to face his bitterness from the adultery wasn’t completely over, but it certainly was a pivotal event leading toward further healing.
So, now, I want to help you brainstorm to lavish love on your spouse through encouraging words.
Step 1: Think about the last time your spouse:
- encouraged you
- helped you through a trial
- loved on your children
- loved you
- felt compassion for another
- helped you with something they didn’t have to
- stood up for you
- repented from sin
- stood for a biblical truth
- praised and worshiped God
- prayed out loud
- spent time with you and friends
- had fun with you
- served someone outside the home
- did something hard but held onto hope
Step 2: What was unique or special or characteristic about the way they did these things? Write this down including the example you thought of.
Step 3: Go share this list with your spouse. Being told verbally with eye contact is best, so avoid sharing the physical copy and letting your spouse read through it. Bonus points if you don’t need to have the written copy there with you.
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