Recently we were visiting our good friends, Tom and Sara. Sara told us she received an award from her company’s corporate office for her outstanding performance at her job. We watched as Tom listened to her describe her job and the award. He smiled. He looked at her intently. He nodded slightly. He was proud of Sara. Then he spoke kind and affirming words about her.
I (Heidi) suddenly felt convicted. How do I respond to Brad? Do I listen patiently when Brad talks? Do I smile? Do I use kind and thoughtful words? Am I respectful? Am I an encouraging spouse? How can I encourage my husband more intentionally?
Here are four questions you can ask yourself to determine if you’re an encouraging spouse:
1. Do I encourage my spouse towards success?
Tom was proud of his wife’s accomplishment and success. He didn’t exhibit jealousy or need to “one-up” her with how well he was doing in his job. He was content to let Sara have the spotlight and honor her.
Unfortunately, many spouses express jealousy or discontentment when their spouse is successful. Instead, celebrate your spouse for their success. After all, you are married to them and their success is a positive reflection on you.
2. Do I encourage my spouse’s positive qualities, actions, or Christ-like traits?
Hebrews 10:24 says “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Ask yourself:
“As a spouse am I living out this verse? Am I a positive influence on my spouse? When I see my spouse serving, showing compassion, or offering to help a person, do I affirm them or do I put them down for being “too sensitive” or “not standing up for themself”?
For example, you can encourage your spouse by offering to serve with them or pointing out to them how thoughtful they were to help another person. Sometimes writing your spouse a note of thanks or affirming your spouse’s character in front of your children is the best encouragement.
3. Do I encourage my spouse’s likes and interests?
Perhaps your spouse likes to hunt, cook, or shop. Maybe they like to quilt, read, fish, or watch sports. You can encourage your spouse by suggesting they invest some time (or money) into those interests. Don’t be judgmental or critical about the time they spend pursuing those interests (unless it’s excessive and then we’d suggest seeing a marriage counselor). Learn about your spouse’s hobbies and why they’re important to them. Ask them what they enjoy about a particular book, sport, or food. When you show genuine interest in what your spouse values, you communicate love and acceptance to them.
4. Do I encourage my spouse to grow spiritually?
When your spouse wants to read the Bible, attend church, play Christian music, or pray together, do you respond with enthusiasm or do you suggest reasons why these things aren’t possible? Do you have to be convinced or do you respond by saying, “That’s a great idea! Let’s try it!” The strongest marriages we encounter are the ones built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. One of the best ways to encourage your spouse is to pray for them. Ask the Lord to help you see your spouse’s strengths and then compliment your spouse.
Next, do everything you can to inspire and spur your spouse towards their personal spiritual growth. Also, encourage practices that create a deeper spiritual connection between the two of you. Read the Bible together. Share prayer requests for each other. Talk about where you’ve seen God’s activity in your lives. Pray together and pray for each other. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So encourage each other and build each other up….”
None of us are perfect. We’re not. When it comes to encouraging our spouse we can all improve.
Look over these questions and make one of them your focus for the next week. Then be sure and encourage your spouse today. As you do, you will build your marriage.