The Value of Encouragement in Marriage
For many marriages that missing ingredient is encouragement. Encouragement is the most powerful way of telling you partner that you accept them as they are, that you understand their goals and desires, and that you value them.
Encouragement is unconditional. Frequently, we think we are communicating encouragement by saying such things but we tend to add a “but…” to the comment. “I love it when you cook but … I wish you wouldn’t make such a mess;” or “Thank you for putting your dirty clothes in the hamper, why don’t you do that all the time?”Encouragement tied to a condition is actually a discouragement.
When we encourage our partner we free them up to express their thoughts and feelings without the fear of being rejected.It also frees us up to talk out difficult situations and work through real problems.
When marriage doesn’t meet our expectations we tend to become discouraged. When both partners feel discouraged the relationship can start a spiral of negativity that can be deadening. Unfortunately, many of us develop this a pattern of discouragement and we are not even aware of it.
Finally, recognize that no one can give too much encouragement. Encouragement is always good and can be shown in all circumstances.
How To Become An Encourager!
Focus on the other person’s strength. Frequently during the week stop and bring to mind all of the characteristics you appreciate about your mate. If you can’t think of any then you need to start doing this daily because everyone has many good qualities that deserve our appreciation.
Focus on effort not accomplishment. Too often we don’t say anything about what the other person is doing until a job is complete, and then only if it is done to our expectations. Encouragement recognizes the efforts that the other is putting into the task, whether it is complete or not, and no matter how well it is done. If your husband does the dishes and forgets to wipe off the stove (which may be very frustrating to you), you may not be able to say, “Honey you did a great job;” but you could say, “Honey, I appreciate your hard work at helping me in the kitchen.” Focus on effort not accomplishment.
Focus on acceptance not personal expectations. Many times we communicate, “meet my expectations,” or “meet my standards,” or “please me.” Such messages, even nonverbal, create discouragement and feelings of rejection. Acceptance is complete and unconditional and gives the other person the freedom to grow and change.
We all stop growing when we live in fear of rejection. Encouragement creates an atmosphere free of the fear of rejection and allows us to continue to grow in our relationships. So commit yourself to developing your encouragement skills.
In next months issue we will discuss some encouragement skills you can work on in your marriage. For now work on applying the principals of encouragement in this months article.
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Larry McElvain, Founder, Discovery Counseling Center
November 2, 2020