You already know the answer to this one: If you hear nine positive comments of affirmation and one negative comment about you, which are you more likely to think about? That’s right…the negative.
In an article entitled, “Bad is Stronger Than Good,” Roy F. Baumeister writes, “Bad emotions…have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to dis-confirmation than good ones.” In other words, the bad stuff sticks more easily to our brains and hearts.
Think of your spouse’s life beginning like a clear glass of fresh water. Throughout their life they have had all kinds of negative opinions deposited into their life, like mud into that clear fresh water. These opinions have been part of shaping your spouse’s self-perception and now it has lost clarity and perspective.
Growing up they may have heard negative impressions from teachers, classmates, siblings, colleagues, even parents. Things like:
- You’re an idiot.
- Can’t you do anything right?
- You don’t know what you’re doing!
- You look stupid.
- I don’t want them on my team/squad
- Just shut up. No one wants to hear from YOU.
- Ignore him/her—they don’t matter anyway.
Hopefully your spouse has heard positive things as well, but even so, the negative has added sludge to their life. Now, imagine that you have an unlimited supply of fresh water to pour into that muddy, sludgy glass of liquid. Your pour and pour and over time the muddy water is replaced with clean, clear water.
Actually, you already have the fresh water at your disposal. It’s in the ability to pour into your spouse descriptions of all of the wonderful things that attract you to them. What are the beautiful, admirable, lovely, strong, delightful qualities you see and experience? What can you zero in on about their character—their core—that is positive?
If Jesus was writing a letter to your spouse—what do you think He would write and affirm? Why not be the conduit of that message?
The Bible says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up….” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Make it your regular and ongoing habit to pour fresh water into your spouse.
And you know what will happen? Your heart of love and appreciation for them will grow exponentially as well as you build your marriage!