While dining with some friends a few weeks ago, we discussed the subject of marriage. (No surprise there.) Margie, the wife of one of Rick’s golfing partners, strongly declared that she believes appreciation is the most valuable gift we can give to our spouse. We all need to feel appreciated.
Appreciate, according to Webster, means: a : to grasp the nature, worth, quality, or significance of, b : to value or admire highly, c : to judge with heightened perception or understanding: be fully aware of, d : to recognize with gratitude
We are all born with an innate longing for appreciation. Even as newborn babies, we quickly learn how to gain attention and positive responses that lead to a feeling of appreciation. Along with appreciation comes a sense of security. Negative attention and responses, on the other hand, lead to insecurity and low self-esteem.
Appreciation is relayed mostly by words and sometimes with actions. Negative words never enhance any relationship – they only bring hurt and distance. How easily we spew negative words, though, to those we love the most.
No wonder people struggle in marriage, and the divorce rate is so high. We live in a world that tells us to “tell it how it is” or “tell them what you think.” We are taught to say whatever we want so we will feel better, get it off our chest, all at the expense of the person we unleash on.
Are our negative thoughts about others that important? Do we really “feel better” when we share the hurtful words that begin in our thoughts?
I don’t think so. I’m reminded of Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail. She desperately wants to speak her mind to the man who causes her book store to close (Tom Hanks.) When she gets the opportunity to finally do it, she feels completely miserable afterwards. What good did those words do for either of them?
When we become so wrapped up in our own thoughts and words, we ignore the whole purpose of our being. God allowed us to take an earthly bodily form for a reason. We have a very important purpose. God’s plans for all of us have to do with helping other people in some way or form. We can’t do that when we focus on expressing our negative thoughts -- righteous as they may sometimes seem.
No matter how you look at it, we are put here for others, and our marriage should be at the top of that list. (Next to God, of course.) If we can’t treat our own spouse the way God intends us to, how can we expect Him to entrust us with a ministry or worthwhile plan for our lives?
In our marriages, the Bible tells women to respect their husbands and men to love their wives. There is no room for negative words and thoughts when you love and respect your spouse. The Bible is full of verses on watching your tongue (controlling your words.) Here are just a few.
Proverbs 12:16 – “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”
Proverbs 12:18 – “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Proverbs 15:1 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Yes, I have written about the tongue often before, but I believe we can never be reminded enough about the importance of controlling what we say. Communication, or lack of doing it properly, is always the biggest problem with every couple we counsel. It’s not the finances or the in-laws or the time at work that creates an issue, it is how a couple communicates about these areas that becomes a major problem. When a couple learns how to talk to one another without the harsh words and emotions, no problem is too difficult to overcome.
Your words will either build up your spouse or tear them down. Be careful to show your spouse your appreciation in all you do and say. Appreciation breeds love and respect. They harmonize well together and make for a joyful marriage!