Here are five simple phrases that anyone can say, which will help to strengthen your marriage.
Brag on Him or Her
I love to publicly brag on my wife and tell others how proud I am of her. She is such a tenderhearted woman. For well over three decades, she was a fourth grade public school teacher. She was the consummate professional, and her children loved her. I tell others that “I married up!” There is a strengthening factor involved when you brag on others and build them up in the eyes of people, but this includes our spouse. Paul writes that we should “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thess. 5:11), so “then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19). I simply have to tell the truth about her. She was the best teacher, and she is still the best mother to our children than any man could ever hope and pray for. So why shouldn’t I tell others about her? I just did!
This little phrase is so powerful that it deserves to be on a plaque somewhere. When we apologize to our mate, we humble ourselves. God resists us if we’re not (James 4:6), but so will our spouse. Being humble, confessing faults and sins, and asking for forgiveness are the glue of any relationship that serve to strengthen it. The words “I’m sorry” show our spouse that we’re not perfect and that we’re still a work in progress. When we admit it, we own it.
You Were Right
In my own life, I seem to resist telling people “I was wrong and you were right” because it tends to be a bit humiliating. But then I looked at the root of the word “humiliating,” which is “humility.” If I can’t admit I was wrong, then I’m narrowing my ability to grow. I’ve learned more from my mistakes than anything else, and to admit when I’m wrong, even before the church, takes true humility, but growth comes from the admission that we were wrong. James wisely tells us, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16a). When you tell someone that you were wrong and they were right, this leaves the door open for growth and gives your spouse the freedom to speak the truth to you, for your own good. If you never admit to mistakes, then your spouse will give up trying to help you discover them.
I Need You
This is something that I must admit I don’t say enough. I don’t hear others say it either, to me or to others, but the truth is we all need one another. There are over 100 “one anothers” in the New Testament, testifying to the critical need that we have for one another. I leave my wife notes occasionally that tell her “I need you,” and I also tell her verbally. To be needed is one of the most satisfactory feelings we can ever experience. Three simple little words can do so much.
Please, Thank You
I realize that we might say thank you to a perfect stranger for holding the door open for us when our hands are full, but how often do we tell our spouse thank you and please? These simple words give acknowledgment to someone that you are appreciative of them and don’t take them for granted. Ingratitude is one of the biggest sins in the Bible. Paul wrote about those who refuse to acknowledge God and to give Him thanks, that “… they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21). Ingratitude is a frequent sin of the unsaved, but let it not be so among us and to our spouses. Paul wrote, “I give thanks to my God always for you” (1 Cor. 1:4). So why not tell your spouse “I give thanks to my God always for you, my beloved wife/husband.”
I pray these phrases will strengthen your marriage. All we must do is brag on our spouse before others, including our own children; apologize when necessary; openly acknowledge when we are wrong and they are right; tell them we need them; thank them verbally; and thank God for them.
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman
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