As you’ve probably already seen, having a baby adds lots of stress to our lives. When we’re tired and stressed, we become irritable. Irritable people say things they would never say when they are rested and happy. They also fail to say some of the nice things that make life more enjoyable. We’ll always have stress. And babies, as much as we want them and love them, add a ton of stress to our lives. That’s why it’s important that we focus on, and work at, strengthening our love for each other, even in the stressful times. Building up our spouse pays huge dividends!
There are two great ways to ease stress and strengthen our marital bond: affirmation and appreciation. Affirmations are positive, true statements. These have a strong effect because they are spoken by one we love and are committed to. Appreciation is acknowledging what someone has done for us and showing we recognize their effort. Our goal this month is to try to replace any sharp, hurtful words with affirming or appreciative words. Now let’s look more closely at each of those qualities.
We deepen our friendship when we express and receive compliments. Affirmation and thankfulness are strong relationship boosters.
In some marriages, there is very little affirmation and appreciation. The inability to receive a compliment soon stops the flow of affirmation. Getting embarrassed, ignoring, or denying the heartfelt words hurts the giver. Do this often enough and your spouse will quit giving you compliments and affirmation.
On the other hand, you may find it hard to put your positive feelings into words. Your spouse could be dying to hear you say anything positive about them. With a little bit of practice and the genuine appreciation of your spouse, giving words of affirmation and thankfulness will come easier.
It is good to practice giving and receiving words of affirmation and appreciation. It is even better when it becomes such a natural part of your communication that you say and receive these words in very ordinary moments, doing ordinary tasks.
Scan the list of qualities or characteristics for ones you appreciate about your spouse. Choose three. Then think of a specific instance when you saw and appreciated one of those qualities in your spouse. Here’s how that looks in practice:
- The speaker shares the characteristic they especially appreciate. In your own words share what this trait in your spouse means to you by recalling a particular instance where you observed this trait.
- The listener should let those words soak in. Believe them and savor them.
Practice this exercise from time to time until it becomes a natural part of your communication. As you get better at giving and receiving affirmation, broaden the scope of things you admire and ways your spouse pleases you.
Characteristics and qualities to admire: (Remember, this is just a beginning point. Feel free to share your own words of affirmation.)
- Good Listener
- Take Time
- Good Cook
- Willing to grow/change/develop
- Hard worker
- Good Role Model
- Good Lover
- Good Parent
Need some help getting started with affirmation and appreciation statements? Start here: Examples of Affirmation and Appreciation
Here are some article that can help you understand the importance of affirmation and thankfulness:
- Affirm Your Spouse
- The Thankful Lover
- See The Child-Ready Marriage for more articles in this series.