“Married couples who regularly express appreciation for each other have much happier, stronger marriages.” Dr. John Gottman @gottmaninst
We cannot think of a single divorce we know of where each spouse was mutually, sincerely, and regularly showing appreciation for the other. Can you? The reason is that when we show appreciation for our spouse it not only builds them up in their sense of worth, it does a couple of other things as well.
First, when we express appreciation it draws our heart closer to our spouse. Verbalizing, writing, or recording what is on our heart reframes our thinking about our mate. It reminds us once again about the treasure and worth of the person God has given to us.
Second, when we express appreciation it pulls our spouse toward us. We know them most intimately—we see the good, the bad, and the ugly—and yet we are still saying, “You matter, you have value, and I see it expressed in so many ways.” When someone is “for” us, we are naturally drawn to them.
Here are three levels of appreciation that you can bring into your marriage today so that it is strengthened and draws you and your spouse closer together. At each level, be specific in what you see and appreciate. Be creative in how you communicate it: words either written or spoken, a drawing, poetry, a video—you get the idea.
1. Good: What they DO
Start by being ruthlessly observant of your spouse. Sometimes we can see them in their day to day life—but not really SEE what they are doing. Perhaps you might even whisper a prayer like, “God, help me to see the things that my spouse has secretly longed for me to notice.”
Now, what did you observe that you need to affirm? Perhaps there are regular household tasks that are thankless, but shouldn’t stay that way. Or your spouse faithfully works to provide income and security. It may be an area where they serve in the community or at church that makes a difference.
2. Better: Who they ARE
When we show appreciation for who our spouse IS we are bringing value to the core of their being. Appreciating who they are means that we notice their character, their values, the things that drive them and make them rise above the noise of activity to a place of stature.
When you affirm who your spouse is, you are communicating appreciation for qualities like: integrity, honesty, joy-filled, deep thinker, nurturer, courage, creativity, faithfulness, humility, thoughtfulness, loyalty.
You can affirm who they are in their relationship with God. They are forgiven, empowered, free of shame, a child of God, a servant, a loved sheep, a restored prodigal, a child of the King.
3. BEST: What they CAN be
This level of appreciation lifts your spouse up and gives them hope for the future. It reminds them that they have a partner who is dreaming with them, who believes that their dreams can be achieved together with God’s help.
Your regular ability to believe in your spouse will inject them with the confidence they need to press ahead in life. They need to know that you believe they can be successful. They need to hear you say that you know that they can fulfill all of the potential that God has for them. They need to be assured that you want to hear their dreams and partner with them to achieve those dreams.
How can you show appreciation to your spouse today? Take the initiative as together, you Build Your Marriage!