ou know that feeling when you accomplish something that you didn’t think you could do? Proud accomplishment and a new confidence in yourself are definitely favorites of mine. If you’re anything like me, it’s an exciting moment that you want to share with your spouse. Being married turns so many “me” victories into “we” victories and it’s a wonderful thing.
Some time ago we were having dinner and noticed two couples at a nearby table. The husband was working on a pitch for a new program he was leading at work and he was excited to try the first draft out on his friends before anyone else heard it. They seemed really excited to hear it (and a bit honored to be the first ones!).
When he started the pitch for the very first time, the start, admittedly, was a bit rocky, but that was the point of him trying it out among friends. He was less than a minute in, and just starting to find his rhythm. He was sitting taller with more confidence. He had started to realize that he could do it and that was great to watch.
A Wife’s Criticism
Then, out of the blue, his wife jumped in and started correcting him, telling him that he wasn’t being clear. She continued to criticize his pitch and tell him how he could do it better. I was surprised, and a bit embarrassed for him. I watched him shrink down in his chair a bit and I saw the confidence that he’d found only moments ago disappear in an instant. In a word, he was crushed.
He tried to keep going, but after she interrupted again to point out another imperfection, he changed the subject, and he was done sharing.
This is a simple situation that plays out way too often every day in homes everywhere. Rather than lifting each other up, spouses actually cut each other down. The Bible tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Seems simple enough, but it can actually be difficult sometimes.
Here are a few quick tips to get started:
Find something specific that you can praise.
Focus on your spouse
If your spouse asks for your feedback, be gentle, be honest, and be specific
Don’t criticize your spouse in front of other people. Ever. This single step is the most important one to follow, and failing to do so will cause quite a bit of hurt.
A detailed compliment means far more than “that was good.”
Seek to understand and hear your spouse, rather than talking.
If they’re learning something new, it’s about their wins, not yours (unless you’re learning together, then celebrate both!).
The biggest way we can help each other is by providing meaningful, open, and direct feedback in a loving way.
Remember, it’s our job to praise our spouses, to uplift them and cheer them on. Everyone learns at their own pace. Stay positive and keep encouraging each other–you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
Have you ever felt so encouraged by your spouse that you were able to do something you didn’t think you could do? Tell us about it in the comments below…