I’m 24 years old and about ready to get married to the best guy the world has ever known.
I’ve been shopping for wedding dresses and looking at flowers and cakes non-stop. My mom and I have been talking about all kinds of things…most of it centered around decorations for the wedding day and how much we need to get done before I fly back to college in the Rocky Mountains.
At some point in our conversation my mom tells me this tidbit of wisdom:
“Always talk to each other, never about each other.”
And I know she’s serious.
My parents have had their fair share of difficult moments, dark nights, and trials that make me shake in my boots and wonder if I would have managed the storms of their life with as much grace as they have. And through it all it was extremely important to them to never disparage, gossip, or say unkind words about one another to other people.
They made it a rule that they would talk to each other.
On our wedding day they gave us a plaque that had that bit of wisdom inside it’s frame. My parents believe it’s one of the things that’s kept them together through the tumult and triumph of 43 years of marriage.
And I think they’re right. What we give our attention and focus to is what we see. The more opportunities we take to say unkind comments (no matter how true we think they are) about our spouse, the more we see that we are obviously right about how they endlessly drive us crazy.
The more we commiserate with others about the person we love most, the more justified we feel.
Pretty soon it’s difficult to see the silver lining. We start only seeing the storm cloud. We talk only about the huge cloud in our way.
The reverse is also true. The more we put our love on a billboard for everyone to see the more it grows. We start seeing more in our spouse (and so do the people around us).
At first it may be difficult. Many couples who started out as newlyweds complimenting their spouse and telling everyone, that will listen, how amazing it is that they have found this incredible person are now out of practice at giving away sincere, meaningful, and kind words.
Occasionally, we even think crazy thoughts like: “I don’t want to say too many nice things. He’ll get the wrong idea and think that he can just take a little break, that he doesn’t have to do anything else.”
When you were head over heels in love all of those years ago did you think: “Oh. I better not say too many nice things to him. He may get the wrong idea.”
For some people it’s just always been hard for them to say how they feel. The words are, perhaps, just out of grasp. They feel deeply but can’t seem to get the feelings of their hearts to form words and come out of their mouths or through a pen and onto paper.
And so today…put your love on a billboard! Be brave! Proclaim to all of the Facebook world why your spouse is the best dad, hottest guy, cutest mom, happiest friend, or snuggliest person on the planet. Whatever it is that makes you love them, let your spouse hear you gushing about them to a friend.
Say it Out Loud
Today say at least three out loud compliments to your spouse. You’ve already been writing awesome, short little notes to the person you love most in all the world this week. This is just going to transfer from pen and paper to words out in the world.
Here are some ideas for you:
*whisper in your spouse’s ear one thing about their personality that you adore
*tell someone else why your spouse is amazing
*post on twitter, FB, or some other kind of public billboard one reason your spouse floats your boat
The world is a rough place to navigate. There are things that happen to each of us everyday. We all need reassurance that we are enough, wonderful, and have gifts to give the world that are noticed and thought to be amazing. A kind word to your spouse lets them know that you not only love them but that you see them and, that what you see, you genuinely adore. An authentic and specific compliment can make your spouse feel appreciated and needed. A well time sweet word can also keep discouragement at bay. Gracious and tender hearted words bind you to one another and remind you that you are on the same team, they reaffirm to your dearest love that you’re there for them. Always.
To the one you chose to spend your life with fill them with the gift of feeling supported, loved, valued…and not taken for granted. They do some pretty cool stuff and deserve your conscious compliments.
10 Awesome Ways to Compliment your Dearest Love
*Frequency is important. Start looking for opportunities to compliment this person you promised yourself to. They are doing good things left and right. It’s up to you to notice.
*When they look amazing, rather than saying the dress looks great or the cologne smells good, let them know what it is about what they’re wearing that enhances something you love about them.
- I love the way that you move in that dress.
- When you wear that cologne it makes me notice your broad shoulders and I want to nestle into your chest.
*Go public with your adoration. When you’re in public or with other people mention things in passing that you love about your spouse. If you’re wife managed the kids today with patience say something like, “My wife is so patient even in chaos. I’ve always admired that she can have 47 things going on and still stay calm.” or “I husband has been working non-stop for the last week trying to get a project done. It makes me proud that he is a hard worker and always wants to do the best job he can. His attention to detail has been a blessing to our marriage.” Compliments that go beyond how someone looks let the person you spend your life with know that you see depth in them beyond what everyone else sees.
*Across a room, give your spouse a wink just to let them know that you notice them, you see them standing there, you acknowledge the space between you. If you can’t wink or feel that it is too noticeable, whisper in their ear that when you touch your shoulder it means that you’re thinking of them.
*Let yourself listen to them. With full presence give your entire attention. You’ve felt it before, it’s a compliment when someone gives you their full attention. Without saying the words, they are conveying that you are important to them.
*Get specific. Share details when you’re complimenting. Someone saying, “You look so nice” is an okay compliment but someone who says, “I love the way your green eyes come alive when you wear that blouse. Wow. I can’t stop looking at how beautiful you look” makes you feel like a million bucks. When you do a job with all of your heart someone saying, “Hey, good job” some how leaves you wondering if they noticed the amount of work you put into the project but when you’re told, “Holy cow! You spent hours on that gorgeous room painting it meticulously. And it completely paid off. The paint where the ceiling meets the wall is perfect. You didn’t get one speck of paint on the ceiling. How did you do that? That’s amazing!” Details make the difference in a genuine compliment.
*Give a gift to help them understand how much you appreciate them. Pick up a bouquet of flowers and say, “You have been an amazing mom this week. The kids have been puking and sick and you’ve weathered this storm without me while I’ve had to work 70 hours. You’ve managed here without me and I don’t feel like my words are enough to tell you how much your goodness to our family means to me. I had to bring you flowers hoping that they convey what I can’t say.” Or to your husband, “You’ve been such an awesome editor for me this week. I’ve been fretting over every post that goes on my blog and you’ve happily read every thing I’ve asked you to read, given me suggestions, and wanted me to succeed. It’s meant so much during a week that has been a pretty big deal to me. I don’t think words can tell you enough so I got you tickets to the game in Atlanta. I want you and Emmett to go together.” (Mike, if you’re reading this, it’s true. I did.)
*You can share your words of appreciation with a hug. When words aren’t enough say, “I wish I had the words to tell you how much you mean to me.” And give a hug that somehow conveys how you are at a loss for words.
*Some of the best compliments are the ones that notice a character trait that you think is one of their brightest gifts: kindness when others seek revenge, courage when it would be easier to follow the crowd, discipline when it’s raining, a forgiving nature when it’s tempting to hold a grudge, a sense of responsibility for the care of others, wisdom in decision making, nurturing tenderness when someone is vulnerable, or the way they’re always looking out for the underdog
*Think back to the early days…to the first time you saw your her…what was the first thing you noticed? What did you feel? The way he was such a great sport about everything? His smile? Her genuine interest in others? Her eyes? Those things are still there. Bring back those memories. Talk about those moments and the things that still delight you.
A happy marriage is made up of the little things. Your relationship started off with the the day you caught one another’s eye, the touch of her arm as you walked together, holding hands when you went from the car to the restaurant, writing each other sweet texts, noticing everything he did and seeing this incredible person…those are also the things that got you here…they are also the things that will keep you together.
Little kindnesses are what get us happily from ‘back then’ to now.
I hope you’re participating in our Post it Note Adventure! Click here to read about it!
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