Making a Habit of Affirming Your Spouse

When was the last time you verbally appreciated your spouse for something he did? If you’re having trouble remembering, you’re not alone! A lot of us struggle with affirming our spouse for one reason or another. 

For some of us, we may not be used to expressing our appreciation, perhaps as a result of coming from a family that’s not usually verbal with approval and affirmation. Or, it may be that we’ve become so familiar with each other that we’ve lost the “wonder” of discovering things to appreciate. Or, we may have fallen into the rut of constantly finding fault and correcting our spouse, that we’re blinded to anything positive in him or her.

Whatever the reason behind our lack of affirmation for our partner, we hope to help you develop the important habit of affirming your spouse.  

 

    
 One of the greatest challenges to appreciating each other is when we are too preoccupied with finding things to criticise. Consider setting a day where you commit to refrain from fault-finding.  
    
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Why Affirmation is Important

Research shows that for every one negative thing we say to our children, it requires ten positive things to counteract the effect. We believe the same can be true even with us adults: like flowers, we thrive on praise and wilt under criticism. In fact, Gary Chapman considers words of affirmation as one of the five love languages

At the end of every year, we have this tradition in our family where we write thank you letters to all the other family members. I joke that this tradition is only for Daniel, because he just loves reading all the appreciation notes from all our kids. But in reality, we believe that this yearly activity helps us grow closer as a family by depositing into our love tanks. 

 But hey, I’m not saying that we only practice appreciating our spouse once a year! On the contrary, if we can do it as often as everyday, that would be great! Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight, so we hope that this post can help you form the good habit of finding things to admire and affirm in your partner.  

How to Form the Habit of Appreciating our Partner 

Here are some practical ways to be intentional at verbally expressing our appreciation of our spouse: 

1. Keep an appreciation notebook or journal.

Sometimes, it’s easier to think when you put pen to paper. You can use any notebook, but a small, handy one may be a good idea, because you can bring it anywhere. Some people may want to use just their phones, but having an actual, tangible notebook can help you become more conscious of doing it. 

Set aside a fixed time everyday to write in your appreciation journal. You can start with jotting down at least one thing everyday, and work your way up to three per day. It doesn’t have to be long; you can start with just a bullet point, for example, “He was patient with the store clerk even when the other person wasn’t helpful.” 

2. Practice giving one affirmation a day.

To get started expressing your appreciation, aim for doing it at least once a day. They say that when you do something consistently for twenty-one days, it becomes a habit, so setting a goal of doing it once everyday for the next 21 days is a great start! 

You can set it at a fixed time everyday, so you don’t forget. For example, you might want to link it with dinner time, so that every time you sit down to dinner, you remember that it’s a time when you can say something nice to your spouse. If you keep the notebook recommended in #1, you will already have something to say, and all you have to do is say it! 

Alternatively, some people find it helpful to set an alarm on their phones. You can set it for the same time everyday, or you can vary it up to add an element of surprise too for your spouse. 

3. Get creative in how you express your appreciation. 

Affirming our spouse is not limited to verbally doing it. We can get creative in how we tell them what we like about them. For example, you might insert a cutesy note in his packed lunch, or in his briefcase where he will find it when he gets to work. Or you might text him randomly in the middle of the day. Or, you may even make a social media post appreciating your spouse! Doing it in all these different ways adds a special element of surprise for your partner too. 

4. Set a no-negativity day once in a while. 

One of the greatest challenges to appreciating each other is when we are too preoccupied with finding things to criticise. Consider setting a day where you commit to refrain from fault-finding. If something does come up that you want to correct, note it down on your phone to bring up at a later time. Then, focus on speaking words that are positive and appreciative instead. 

5. Consider adding affirmation traditions. 

In addition to everyday appreciation statements, consider creating traditions where you intentionally appreciate each other. This may be during special occasions like birthdays, Christmas or the New Year’s. For example, in our family, every New Year’s, we have a family tradition of writing thank you notes to every member of the family. 

Regularly affirm your spouse

With these practical steps, we hope that we can all develop the habit of regularly appreciating our spouse. Whether or not words of affirmation is your partner’s love language, it always helps to strengthen intimacy and connection. 

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