In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought I’d write a little post about something that’s been on my heart.
I’m part of a private facebook group. I won’t mention specifically which group, but I will say it’s parenting related. And recently there have been several posts from women venting their frustrations about their husbands. And many of these “venting sessions” end up being straight-up “husband-bashing” sessions. And it makes me really sad. I suppose they think it’s BETTER to vent about your husband online, in a private group of strangers, instead of to family or friends who actually KNOW your husband, but I still find it extremely unhealthy, even if what you’re saying about your husband (or wife) is true.
Any form of bashing, insulting, or belittling your spouse to others is extremely disrespectful, in my opinion, and I can’t come up with any good reason for why it might help the situation. I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate issues in a marriage that need to be talked about. I’m not saying bottle up your issues. But release it in a healthy way to the right person, or people. Seek counseling, a trusted adviser, a pastor. Not online to a bunch a people who might give you really horrible advice. Not just because you might get bad advice, or trigger other people to agree and join in on the bashing session, but because, again, it’s horribly disrespectful to do that to your spouse behind their back (or even in front of! which I’ve also seen happen…)
Listen, I’m no relationship or marriage expert. I’ve got less than 5 years under my belt. But I firmly believe in the golden rule. If my husband went online and aired our dirty laundry, venting about me or insulting me to other people, I would be extremely hurt, and it would put a huge rift in our marriage. We’re both sinners. We fight. We hurt each other. There are things that annoy us about each other. But we talk face to face and work through it. And if a 3rd party ever needed to enter the situation, we’d go to someone we trust. I say that not to pat ourselves on the back. It is only by the grace of God that we don’t even have the desire to do something like that. But that doesn’t mean we always handle things properly when do talk face-to-face about our issues.
But the antidote for all of this, I strongly believe, is to praise your spouse to other people. I came across a small list of benefits to speaking well of your spouse from this article, and I wholeheartedly agree with all 5. This is quoted directly from the article:
- You get more of what you affirm. Have you ever noticed that when someone praises you, you want to repeat the behavior that caused it? This is just human nature. It can be a form of manipulation if it isn’t genuine. But it can be a powerful way to motivate others when it is authentic.
- Affirmation shifts your attitude toward your spouse. Words are powerful tools. They can create, or they can destroy. They can build up, or they can tear down. I believe most people have a drive to align their actions—and their attitudes—with their words. If you start speaking well of someone, you start believing what you say.
- Affirmation helps strengthen your spouse’s best qualities. Encouragement is also a powerful force for good. All of us need positive reinforcement. This is why when we are losing weight and people notice, it gives us the strength to stick with the program. This is true in every area of life.
- Affirmation wards off the temptation of adultery. When others see you are happily married, they are less likely to proposition you. It’s like a hedge that protects your marriage from would-be predators. You simply stop being a target.
- Affirmation provides a model to those you lead. To be a truly effective leader, you must lead yourself, and then you must lead your family. Your marriage is a powerful visual of how you treat the people you value the most. When you speak highly of your spouse, your followers are more likely to trust you. It takes your leadership to another level.
What do you think? Do you agree with the list? Would you add any others?
One thing I think it’s safe to say we all can all agree on, is that praising your spouse, instead of bashing them, can only do good things for your relationship. Again, it doesn’t mean you ignore legitimate issues and pretend everything is hunky dory. But when it comes to how you speak of your spouse in front of others, stick to the positive. Like the article mentioned above (and everywhere in the Bible, which is a more reliable source than the article), words are so powerful. Use them carefully. And if OTHERS are speaking poorly of your spouse, step up and defend! “Love always protects.” It protects your spouse and your marriage from any attempt to destroy it, including the harmful words of others.
Now the one thing I haven’t mentioned, is that words are a reflection of what’s really in your heart (Matthew 12:34). So if you find in yourself the desire to go off about how horrible your spouse is and insult them in front of others, or even insult them directly to their face, there’s a much bigger issue going on. I love what my former Pastor always said about apologies. Saying “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean what I said” is a bunch of crap. Saying, “I’m sorry I meant that” is a more genuine apology. You don’t say stuff you don’t mean. It’s all about getting to the root of the problem.
Goodness…now I’m going off on a tangent and getting off track. I should just end with this, because I believe in practicing what I preach. Here are the things I love and admire about my husband:
1. He is a ridiculously hard worker. He uses every available resource, gift and talent he’s been given to provide for our family. He gets crap done and makes things happen. I hope our children have his work ethic.
2. He is really great at admitting when he’s wrong, and is always willing to talk things through to determine whether or not he was in the wrong in any given situation.
3. While he is the leader in our home, decisions are always a team effort. He consults me and values my opinion on things.
4. He loves his kids and makes the most of the time spent with them, despite a very busy season of life. He plays catch, builds blocks, wrestles, gives baths and tucks in whenever he is able. And our kids adore him. I love seeing Gwen’s face light up when she hears the garage door open and exclaims, “YAY! DADDY HOME!!!”
5. He hugs and kisses me in front of them (the kids). A habit we intend to keep up with as long as they’re living under our roof 🙂
6. He has many interests and hobbies and includes me in almost all of them. It makes for a fun, adventurous marriage, and fosters the friendship part of our marriage.
7. He is passionate. About everything.
8. He is not content not knowing how to do something. He will look stuff up. He will figure out how it works.
9. He reminds me of my dad sometimes. From how he gets annoyed by stupid people, dislikes crowds, to the way he sneezes. I know that sounds weird. But there ya have it
10. He is just as passionate as I am about keeping our marriage a priority and encouraging others to do so in their marriages.
Man, I’m not kidding when I say that just going through that list right now filled me with warm fuzzy feelings for that man. #2 in that list (of benefits) is for real! Anyway. Go praise your spouse. That is all.