In yesterday’s post we discussed just how important encouragement is to building your friendship in marriage. Noticing and mentioning things you love and admire, enjoy and appreciate about your spouse. It’s incredibly useful to be specific and genuine as well as consistent when complimenting and encouraging your spouse.
Giving encouragement though is only half of the equation. Receiving compliments and encouragement proves difficult for many people. The reasons for the difficulties vary greatly. From the family of origin to past abuse or neglect, betrayal, lack of trust or even personal preference can all contribute to how someone receives encouraging words. Dismissal, disbelief and distrust categorize how someone may react when they struggle to receive encouragement intended to build them up.
If you have serious problems receiving encouragement from others, please take time to get to the root of why that is. For the sake of this post however, we are going to share a few ways to begin the path to accepting encouraging and complimentary words.
1. Listen with vulnerability.
Drop the defenses. Release the fear and pride. They aren’t doing you any good.
Chances are, the person speaking to you wants to connect with you and affirm you as a person. Consider the heart of the person speaking and be vulnerable enough to hear what they have to say. Allow the words to soak in and perhaps you will find that they really do have a certain undeniable power. The words spoken can soothe and heal places that are reached by little else. Vulnerability is the first step towards receiving encouragement.
2. Listen with trust.
Even if it is a new experience for your marriage, trust that your spouse wants to encourage you and is doing so for your benefit not their own gain. Have an open discussion about the merits of how to truly speak words of encouragement that your spouse is willing to hear. After that, trust that as your marriage takes steps in that direction, your spouse is for you and really wants to support you.
3. Celebrate the encouragement.
Accept what is offered then offer encouragements in return.
Maybe your spouse isn’t being as specific as you would like. Certainly there will be mistakes and fumbles with words but it’s important to keep the cycle going. Keep moving forward in giving and receiving encouragement and you may soon find that compliments and a positive word culture are a strength in your marriage. As you learn to receive compliments return them with greater and greater ease.