But today we’re going to tackle “reviving your praise”.
I know many of my readers really struggle in their marriages. Is the change really all up to me? they say. What about my husband? And many of you are hurting.
And I know that you’ve read advice saying, “you need to express gratitude towards your husband“. I’ve written about that myself, too! And I do believe it. Men thrive on appreciation; when they feel judged and inadequate, they often retreat. Praising your husband does two main things: it helps your husband feel empowered, but it also helps you to feel more positively about him. After all, the things we say out loud also become the things that we think. Sometimes by making ourselves think of positive things to say, we start noticing more positive things! And that, in and of itself, can transform a marriage.
But I want to take this a little bit further today and look at what praising our husbands really means.
It means that we’re agreeing with God.
Let me explain. The reason so many of us have a hard time praising our men is because we don’t feel particularly positive about them right now. And if we try to force ourselves to find positive things to say, aren’t we then lying? Or at least distorting the truth? After all, this isn’t really how we feel. And if I’m going to be honest with my husband, I need to be honest about my feelings, don’t I?
And how can we maintain, or even create, an intimate marriage if honesty is not at the heart of it? If my husband is hurting me, you may say, then I have to let him know. I can’t go around saying all kinds of nice lovey dovey things that I don’t even feel in hopes of changing him, because that’s not honest. It’s manipulative. And it’s the opposite of intimacy.
Well, yes. And no.
The question is what we mean by honesty. To be honest means that you tell THE TRUTH. But what is the truth?
Here’s where things get interesting. The truth is not always how you feel. When we tell the truth, it simply means that we are agreeing with God about something, because Jesus is The Truth. So praising your husband is simply the same thing as telling the truth about the positive things that God is doing in his life, whether or not you are also feeling negatively about him. Do you see the difference?
So you may be angry that your husband is lazy around the house, but has God made him a good provider? You may feel that he doesn’t share his emotions enough, and that he’s curt with you, but is a natural leader? Is he decisive? Is he easy to respect? Call out those positive things that you see in him. Is God slowly changing him? Notice these changes!
One woman sent me an email recently saying that she had felt convicted lately because she had too many expectations on her husband. She was expecting him to be everything that God said a godly man would be, and when he didn’t measure up, she felt angry. But she knew that she had to stop holding him up to the ideal, and simply see him as he was right now: a man that God created, that God loved, and that God was molding.
Right now, your husband is a man that God loves. Your husband is a man that God is molding. And that is all a good thing! And when you call out the things in your husband’s life and character that are good, you are agreeing with God about him. Sometimes, even in the depths of our disagreements with our spouses, when we take a step back and say, “this is what I admire about you”, what we do is we put the focus back on what God is doing, and away from our own hurts.
But what about our needs?
Well, this weekend I threw up a reader question on this blog about what to do when your husband’s poor eating habits are endangering his health, but he refuses to eat healthy food that you cook. The comments on that post were most interesting, and I want to write a follow-up post tomorrow to deal with some of them. The theme of some comments, though, were: “I don’t like being told not to nag. If I’m upset about something, is it really nagging to say it? Don’t I have to tell my husband?” And in a way, I’d agree (come back tomorrow to find out more about why!). When we talk, we need to agree with God, and if there is an area where you feel that your husband is endangering the relationship, yes, you must speak up.
But it is so much easier to speak about that if you are also, and even first, telling the positive things you see in your husband. God doesn’t bash us over the heads with all the things we do wrong; he rejoices over us with singing, and then he gently shows us where we’ve strayed.
It’s not wrong to tell your husband why you’re upset. You need to have ways to talk to him frankly about things. But may I suggest that laying a foundation of praise, where you agree with God about your husband’s good qualities, is so important first?
So here’s this week’s challenge:
My three blogging friends have also written on this today, and you can see what they have to say, too!
And you can have your say, too! Just leave a comment to tell us the struggles you’ve had with friendship, the solutions you’ve found, or what you love doing together.
Join us next Monday when we talk about how to “Revive Your Sex Life”!
Sheila is the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. Don’t settle for mediocre in your marriage when God wants so much more for you!