how to purposefully encourage your spouse

“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out…”

-Hebrews 10:24, The Message

I am a great encourager.

I encourage my kids daily (Good job not peeing on the floor today!).I encourage my students (Thanks for finally turning in that assignment, three weeks late is better than nothing!). I’m even really good at encouraging my dog (You’re the best puppy in the world, Blue!).

I want my kids and students to feel successful and supported. I want them to know I’m paying attention and aware so I let them know with my words. As I was thinking about who else I encourage often, one person was noticeably left off my list: my husband.

I would say I rarely encourage my husband. I feel like I need to let that sink in and say it again, perhaps in a whisper because it’s not a proud moment:

I rarely encourage my husband.

encouraging your spouse

The man who is the main caregiver for my children, the man I chose to spend the rest of my life with, the man I want to be happy, healthy, and loved so that he can dream big dreams and do great things. But I can’t remember the last time I encouraged him, tried to make him feel supported, or told him that I was paying attention and aware of him.

“God said, ‘It’s not good for man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.'” -Genesis 2:18, The Message

That’s a sickening feeling. I’m called to be my husband’s helper and I’m doing the exact opposite of that.

I realized that I probably tear him down more than I build him up. Because I tell him lots of things, I talk to him all the time, but it’s probably not in the way that makes him feel loved and appreciated and supported.

“But encourage one another daily, as long, as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  -Hebrews 3:19, NIV

And that realization has left me pretty convicted. So I decided to start small and be purposeful about encouraging my husband. Sometimes it feels like we’re ships passing in the night: I’m at school before he and the girls are out of bed and with evening commitments and him working one evening a week and on Saturdays, we are not together a lot. That’s the season we’re in right now. I could use those things as excuses or I could figure out a way to get around them.

So I’m working around them. I sat down with intention and prayed over my husband, asked for new eyes to see how much he brings to our family, and then began looking for ways to tell him what I was seeing, what I was thankful for, and what I loved about him. Whatever came to mind, I jotted down on a sticky note. Then I began putting one on our mirror every morning as I headed out the door. So that when he rolls out of bed and is standing next to the sink taking our newly-potty-trained two year old to the bathroom, he finds love, encouragement, or thanks.

encouraging your spouse post-it notes

And it’s working. I don’t always hear a response to the note I left that morning, I don’t always get an acknowledgement, but I am noticing a change in our interactions. He feels more valued and appreciated and that’s making our house quieter, calmer, and more peaceful.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.  -Philippians 4:8, NIV

It’s funny that when I started looking for ways to encourage my husband, everyday things began to take on new meaning. I was looking for the good instead of the bad, and I was overwhelmed with ways I could encourage this man I married. Guys, it’s changing things in big ways.

Plus, it’s just fun too. You can be as creative as you want with your notes (especially if your kids can’t read yet, hint hint). So what do you think? Are you good at encouraging your spouse? Is this something, like me, that gets pushed aside too easily? What could you do to make sure you are a spouse that helps instead of hinders? And might I suggest a sticky note or two? They’re a powerful game-changer.

This post originally appeared on FancyLittleThings.com in October 2013.

Comments

  1. says

    Love this Mary! My hubby and I used to do this all the time before kids and now it is a rare occurrence. It is amazing how much a few little words can do for a person’s confidence and heart. :)

  2. Salena says

    I used to be but it was never acknowledged and after years of no response I figured what’s the point? Saves me from the disappointment and hurt of being rejected. Doesn’t phase him whether I do it or not.

    • mary says

      Salena, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that your husband doesn’t respond to that–for me words of affirmation are huge (and I’m assuming they are for you too since you write). Is there another way that he does responds to or have you just stopped? My heart breaks a little reading your comment.

  3. Julie Jensen says

    I used to have a frame that had I love you because… on it and I would write something each week. Unfortunately, our maid always erased it, I guess thinking it was dirty (as in needed to be cleaned…and not dirty as dirty mind, lol) (she cannot speak English, ha). I definitely am sometimes best at telling him what he doesn’t do rather than what he does do, but he is not afraid to tell me when I am failing and I fix it by just using words. I have a tattoo on my foot that reads “Positive is how I live” and I always am reminded that in every aspect especially with the hubs, I need to be positive and more intentional in my thinking because it’s easy to get into the rut of things are horrible, this sucks, that sucks and I want this and you suck and you don’t empty the trash or you suck at sleeping… than it is to say, You are a great Father or a great husband. Thanks for you writing! It’s so powerful!

    • mary says

      I need one of those frames and that’s hilarious the maid always used to erase your “dirty” messages. HAHA. You’re right, it is so easy to get caught up in the parts he’s not doing well and forget all the things he does well. Thanks for reading, Julie!

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