1 Thessalonians 5:11

     I was stumped by a question I read the other day.  “When was the last time you complimented your spouse?”  I couldn’t answer the question.  I am certain that I recently had offered Cathy an affirming word of some measure but I just couldn’t recall when that word was spoken.  The thought dawned on me that I have not been deliberate in my efforts to encourage my wife.  Paul counseled Christian to “encourage one another and build each other up”  (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).  Paul offers a strong hint to encourage one another intentionally, as well as routinely.

     Unfortunately, we too often take those closest to us for granted.  Christian Psychologists, Les and Leslie Parrot claim, “Building one another’s self-esteem is an essential component of a happy marriage, but it can be easy to fall into a rut where we stop affirming one another in meaningful ways.”  Finding a realistic way to encourage your life partner will enrich any marriage.

     In the film, Jerry Maguire, Renee Zellweger, who plays Dorothy, says to her husband, Jerry, “You had me at hello.” Each of us fell in love with our spouse because of certain qualities they possess that we found attractive.  Therefore, the easiest way to affirm one another is to pay compliment to these strengths, such as beauty, intelligence, and hard work.  “Gosh, you really look pretty today,” can be a remark that not only elevates a wife’s spirit it can also strengthen the level of a couple’s emotional bond.

     In addition to complimenting each other’s positive attributes follows the practice of lifting one another’s esteem in the face of personal insecurities.  If your wife is experiencing difficulty at work, express to her your confidence that with God’s help she will discover a breakthrough.  When your husband expresses frustration because he cannot spend as much time with the family as he wants, let him know how much you appreciate his thoughtful concern.

     Mark Twain once said that he could go for two months on just one compliment.  The same cannot be said for a happy marriage.  Routine encouragement is the oxygen that breathes life into every marital relationship.  Without encouragement mutual love will suffocate.