As we discussed last week, the definition of the word “affirm” is “to state as fact; assert strongly and publicly; to declare one’s support for; uphold; defend.”

We talked about the importance of affirming your children in order for them to feel known and supported. This truth is the same for our spouses. They need to hear us affirming them publicly and our children need to hear us doing it, too. Our children will model our behavior and our words whether we like it or not, so it’s better for us to be intentional about what we say and when we say it!

Some people are natural and gifted encouragers. It seems like they can come up with something positive to say about anyone in any situation. There are others of us who struggle with words and timing. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, it is important to cultivate an atmosphere of affirmation and encouragement with your spouse. If your spouse does not reciprocate compliments, keep affirming him/her anyway. Your children are taking notice of how you respond or react to the lack of affirmation, as well.

Some people refuse to affirm their spouses because it feels forced or fake when things are tense between them. If that’s your current situation, wait until a time when things are lighter between you. If your husband tells a joke and lightens an intense situation, take that moment to affirm him, “Honey, you are so good at making me feel better during intense times. Thank you.”

Don’t say anything you don’t mean, but intentionally say the things you do mean. Don’t let good thoughts and encouragements go unsaid for fear of rejection. Your encouraging affirmation may be just the thing your spouse needs to draw him back in your direction or to help him feel empowered at work because of your support at home.

If you don’t teach your children how to have a healthy marriage with good communication by modeling it, where are they going to learn to be have a healthy marriage? If you are struggling in your marriage, don’t give up. Seek help from a mentor couple, a spiritual leader or a counselor. At the very least, buy a book, but never stop praying for your spouse. Your marriage has an enormous impact on your children, their sense of well-being, and what their future will look like. Take care of your marriage like your children’s future lives depend on it, because, in a sense, it does.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

What are things you do to affirm your spouse or what has your spouse done to affirm you?