How to build kindness in your marriage
“Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (Proverbs 16:24 NLT). That’s a great verse, isn’t it? But sometimes it’s the kind words that are missing in our marriage. It’s not that we’re intentionally mean or unkind — just neglectful. As a result, the intense bond of connection can slowly begin to loosen and we slide into an unintentional relational drift.
We can look back at one season in our marriage when this was particularly true. It led to a great deal of pain and significant rebuilding that was necessary. So much could’ve been avoided had we been more intentional in our word choices toward each other. Our relationship needed nurturing and we weren’t providing it.
Today, we’re better at showing appreciation for one another. It keeps us bonded and connected.
To bring kind words into your marriage and strengthen your connection, you and your spouse can work on offering appreciation through the week. We’ve identified three levels of appreciation to express to your spouse. You notice that they are progressively more intimate in how we notice and affirm our spouse.
1. I appreciate what you do
This obviously means that we are simply noticing the activities that our spouse does to better our home and our marriage. We appreciate the good things that they bring into our life.
In our home, we express appreciation for the daily activities that can so easily be taken for granted.
- “Thank you for dinner.”
- “I appreciate the clean clothes you consistently have for me.”
- “I’m so glad you fill my car with gas so I don’t have to.”
- “Our yard looks great. Thank you for mowing today.”
- “Look at those lines in the carpet—thank you for vacuuming!”
It’s easy to rule this out as being too trivial to talk about. After all, aren’t these things simply expected in the course of a marriage? In reality, nothing should be expected and everything should be appreciated. You can never be too grateful to your spouse for what they do.
2. I appreciate how you sacrifice
There are things that your spouse does for the two of you that are a sacrifice. Perhaps you don’t see them as a sacrifice, but your spouse does. Or, conversely, you may see what they do as a sacrifice and they don’t. Either way, acts of sacrifice should be met with appreciation and acknowledgment. This blows wind into your spouse’s sails and propels them forward.
For example, where do you see your spouse giving for you or your family? Perhaps they choose to forego buying something they would like so your children can have something. Maybe they sacrifice sleep in order to have a better work schedule for the family. You may notice them going out of their way to do errands for you or others. Whenever you see sacrifice, acknowledge it, and let your spouse know you appreciate what they did.
3. I appreciate who you are
When we address who our spouse is, we are saying, “I know who you are and I see you. You have value and worth because you are you.” This kind of appreciation goes to the core of their being. It’s where you look at their character and their personality and you reinforce your appreciation for them as a person.
What are the traits of your spouse that you notice? What traits would they appreciate about themselves that you can reinforce? Perhaps things like:
- “I love the way you think. You have a great mind and insights.”
- “I appreciate your compassionate heart. You care when people hurt.”
- “I respect your self-discipline. You inspire me.”
- “I admire your courage. You aren’t afraid of challenges.”
Be looking for ways you can express appreciation to your spouse on all three levels through the course of the next week. As you do, you’ll be bringing honey to their soul and you’ll build your marriage.