The following humble email came in yesterday:
I have appreciated the last few days about encouraging our husbands. I’ve been struggling with this for the entirety of my 10-month marriage, and I have really seen how my critical spirit tears my husband down. I would really love to begin encouraging him, but I’m not sure how. Are there any practical ways to do this?
There are many answers to this question, but I think that Ephesians 4:22-24 lays it out very simply: we are to “put off the old self” and “put on the new self.” By God’s grace we are to “put off” critical thoughts, which lead to unkind words and “put on” loving thoughts that lead to encouraging words. Meaningful encouragement begins with our thought life.
The apostle Paul understood the influence of people’s thoughts on their feelings and behavior. He exhorted the Philippians in this way: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4:8).
If we think Philippians 4 thoughts about our husbands, then encouraging words are sure to come out. I love what Shirley Rice has to say along these lines:
“Are you in love with your husband? Not, do you love him? I know you do. He has been around a long time, and you’re used to him. He is the father of your children. But are you in love with him? How long has it been since your heart really squeezed when you looked at him? Why is it you have forgotten the things that attracted you to him at first?...Your husband needs to be told that you love him, that he is attractive to you. By the grace of God, I want you to start changing your thought pattern. Tomorrow morning, get your eyes off the toaster or the baby bottles long enough to LOOK at him. Don’t you see the way his coat fits his shoulders? Look at his hands. Do you remember when just to look at his strong hands made your heart lift? Well, LOOK at him and remember. Then loose your tongue and tell him that you love him” (emphasis mine).
So how do we begin to encourage our husbands? First, we “change our thought pattern” and then we tell him how much we love him!
Also…we did a little series back in July on speech: corrupting words versus encouraging words. You can read it here.