Secrets of a Newlywed: The Power of Our Words
This is the next post in Secrets of a Newlywed, a series where I open up and share some of the lessons, insights and understandings—the little secrets—that have made my marriage the wedded bliss that it is. Like anything else, they are easier said than done. But I know from personal experience that when I do manage to live them out, I've seen what beautiful fruit they bear in my relationship with my husband.
So, today, I share another with you: The Power of Our Words.
You might hear an older woman, knowingly, say, “You know, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, my dear.” The idea is that if you want to make something stop—whether it’s that fly buzzing around your kitchen or your husband’s annoying habit—you’re better off to be sweet than sour.
Put that into the context of marriage, and it means that we’ll see more good come from complimenting our husband than criticizing him. As Proverbs says, “Better to live in a wilderness than with a nagging and hot-tempered wife.” There will always be things to criticize our husbands about, but likewise, there will also always be things to compliment him for.
And when we choose to compliment him rather than criticize him, we can watch wonders. It’s simply a matter of changing our perspective and keeping your eyes peeled for the good rather than the bad.
I’ve seen this in my own marriage, where I’ve made the conscious decision to zip my lips when I find myself about to criticize my husband for how much water he’s wasting when doing the dishes, and instead compliment him for doing the dishes. What is more important to me? That he’s doing them or that he’s doing them my way? And you know what, I start to notice that he’s more willing to do the dishes after that than if I nag him about the details of the process.
Honey, not vinegar.
But encouragement is not just about manipulating your husband to get him to do what you want. That’s simply the tip of the iceberg. The real beauty of it comes when your words become transformative—making both of you better people than either of you imagined.
Once you get in the habit of complimenting your husband, you’ll start noticing more and more things he does that impress you. Put words to those instances, even if it seems silly to thank him for working long hours at the office or for the way he played with the little kids at church. Those words of yours can be a catalyst for him to develop those qualities even further: acting with more integrity at work, doing more to serve those around him, relishing his role as provider, etc.
By looking at him and finding his potential, you can use your words to prod him further down that road, giving him the encouragement he needs to press on.
Even more, I’ve found that when I start to look at my husband with eyes of affirmation, my own heart is changed in the process: My selfishness starts to melt away, ever so slowly. I garner a heart filled more with gratitude for all he does. Contentment comes easier when I look for the good in my world rather than the bad. I find myself leaning onto God about how I can be a better wife.
In short, we both are transformed. That is the power of words.
(To read through all the posts in this series, click here.)
The Power of Words: Learning to commend rather than complain
Giving up "Negativity" for Lent This Year