Have you thanked your spouse lately? Or do you just expect him or her to do “the right thing” and look the other way? Here’s something that Debi Walter, from the ministry of The Romantic Vineyard wrote on this issue. It’s important that we often pause to consider our spouse’s strengths:
“We all have one, at least one, but we may not realize it because of our lack of pausing and considering it. I’m talking about an area of strength in your marriage. Oftentimes we focus on what is lacking and miss what is strong. This is not only discouraging, but a neglect of giving thanks to God for what He has done.
“Gary Thomas, in his book Cherish, tells the story of a woman who was married to a very accomplished man. He was used to hearing accolades from coaches, teachers, parents, and fans. But at home he more often heard, ‘boo!’
“His wife explained her husband was so successful she didn’t realize he needed her encouragement more than all others. She went on to say that he had set the bar so high of what a good husband looks like, she took all of his strengths for granted. (Chapter 10 – Your Unique Spouse)
Pause and Consider Our Spouse’s Strengths
“Have you become so accustomed to the things your spouse does well that they are no longer noticed?
“May I [may we] encourage us all to take time today to look at our spouse from a fresh perspective? Ask God to illuminate their strengths to you; and then purpose to commend your spouse specifically and sincerely.
“…Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13 ESV)
“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…” (Hebrews 10:24)
So, how do you do this? Ask the Lord to help you to have the eyes to see that, which your spouse does that needs noticing. There are so many of your spouse’s strengths that we’re sure you can notice, if you make the effort. And we hope you will. Your spouse needs encouragement, just like you do. We don’t outgrow that need.
It can be little things and big ones. But don’t underestimate the power of encouragement. It could be as simple as saying thank you when your spouse opens a door, or brings you coffee, or even going to work every day and bringing home a paycheck. Don’t take that for granted. Say something like, “I just want you to know that I appreciate you. You go to work faithfully day after day and work to help us financially in our life together. This is such a blessing! Please know that I don’t take this for granted. There are many spouses that don’t do that. And I love that you do this for us. Thank you.”
Noticing and Affirming Your Spouse’s Strengths
Trust us when we say, you can’t take it for granted that your spouse will always be there for you. We are not promised tomorrow. We know too many spouses who took each other for granted and lived to regret it. And the state of regret is a terrible place in which to live. So, be intentional in noticing and affirming your spouse’s strengths. It’s another way to show love to your marriage partner.
On that note, here are a few additional thoughts to pause and consider:
“Use words of affirmation regularly. The tongue is a powerful tool. James 3:6 tells us, the tongue has the ability to defile the whole body and set on fire the course of a man’s life. In the same way, a critical attitude can make or break a marriage. Instead of pointing out all the ways your spouse disappoints you, start to look for the positive attributes. Take the opportunity to express your heartfelt appreciation.” (Sabrina Beasley)
“Offer your spouse appreciation and praise. Everyone has a deep hunger for appreciation, including your spouse, so offer it freely. Don’t make your spouse beg for your gratitude and admiration. Give it willingly. Find something that you can praise him/her for and see what a difference it makes in your marriage.” (Kevin Bullard) “Encourage one another daily, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)
“Think about your husband [or your wife] for a minute. Quickly list three things that you love about him [or her]. Now go and tell him.” [If it’s your wife, tell her.] (Lori Byerly) “Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” (Margaret Cousins)
With those thoughts in mind, I’m going to tell you 3 things I appreciate about my husband Steve that I told him.
- I appreciate my husband Steve’s faithfulness. He is a loving, faithful man of God that I value so much! The Marriage Missions ministry makes us even more aware of so many of the tough things a lot of spouses live with. Thank you, Jesus, for letting me enjoy this wonderful man who faithfully loves you and loves me and lives his life to show both of us just how much that is true! And thank you Steve for being so faithful and loving! You have restored my trust in men. And you have shown me that men CAN love their wives as much as they love them. That is so important to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I treasure you!
- I love Steve’s sense of humor. Yes, I’ve mentioned this many times before. But it’s important to both of us. And especially now, since Steve’s stroke, when he makes me laugh … it’s like a kiss that comes from Heaven. We both look for ways to laugh together, even during the tough times. Actually, that is true especially in the toughest of times. That’s when we need this “medicine” the most! And when you look for things to laugh about, you can usually find them. Intentionality is important here. … Thank you, Steve, for making me smile and laugh and enjoy my life with you. You help to put fun into our marriage. There’s no doubt that you are my best (human) friend! I love you so, so much!
- I also love Steve’s servant heart. He makes extra effort to show me that he cherishes me through his actions (and words too). And what’s not to love about that? He brings me ice water to have at our bedside table so if I’m thirsty in the middle of the night (it does happen here in the desert Southwest) I have water to quench my thirst. He prays with me when I need it. And he tries to ease my workload whenever and however he can. I could go on and on, but I love how Steve works to serve me, and others around us.
He is the Chaplain for our local fire department, and I love to see him ministering to those that call out for his help. He is so compassionate and caring. All of this warms my heart to no end. Sometimes I just marvel that I get to go home with him. What a great guy he is! I am most blessed!
Here’s what I love and appreciate about Cindy:
- Her unwavering love for God which leads to her unwavering love for me. From the time Cindy gave her life to Christ in 1974 she has had a voracious appetite for God’s Word. Not only does she love His Word, but she also loves living it out every moment of her life. And I am the direct beneficiary of this love. It inspires me to cherish her more every day of my life.
- At the risk of embarrassing Cindy, she is also one of the humblest servants of God I’ve ever known. Everything she does for me, and others, is done quietly, not seeking attention or accolades. If you readers of our weekly Insights ever truly knew how much Cindy pours herself into the research and writing of what you read, you would be amazed. She does all of this because “the love of Christ compels her.”
- Her most endearing quality to me is her love and devotion to family. And not just ours, but to yours as well. She is so much fun to watch whenever she sees a baby. Her eyes light up; and she loves to fuss over them, given the chance. To give you a glimpse into her heart, Cindy will often say to people, “If what we do for Marriage Missions can save one marriage from failing and keep one child from crying itself to sleep at night, then we will be successful” …to the Glory of God.
These are just a few of the things I love and most appreciate about God’s gift to me—my wife, Cindy.
We can tell you that we did a LOT of hugging after sharing these things with each other! What a joyful connection!
Your Turn in Considering Your Spouse’s Strengths
So, now it’s your turn. Think of 3 things you appreciate about your spouse; and then tell them to him or her. What a great surprise! And then keep finding little (and big) things that your spouse does and let him or her know your appreciation. These little care packages for the heart can work wonders to grow your relationship in wonderful ways. We know that from personal experience.
In closing, here’s how Debi Walter closed her blog. We totally agree with this; and we hope you will live with each other in this way, as we do:
“May we all pause and consider our spouse with fresh eyes today! And may we be reminded of why we fell in love with them in the first place. This is a great way we can begin cherishing our spouse for who they are. Gary Thomas says, ‘Cherish is the one word that changes everything.’ Try it and see for yourself.”
And may God bless your marriage relationship as you do!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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