An attitude of gratitude creates blessings. —Sir John Templeton
This world can be a tough place. It's filled with trials, pain and heartache. Quite often, by day's end your spouse's heart is bruised, battered and bloodied. He or she may feel discouraged, frustrated or hurt. And yet, in the midst of life's tribulations, your spouse has been given a special gift: you.
Every day you have the opportunity to give your spouse what we call "the blessing." The blessing is what we all long for – acceptance and affirmation. In fact, to "affirm" something is to confirm its truth and to strengthen it. When you bless your spouse, you are speaking truth into his or her life or you are calling out something you see that's positive.
Our heavenly Father modeled this blessing when Jesus was baptized. In a voice from heaven, God said: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11). The Father offered this blessing before Jesus had done anything in the way of public miracles or recorded ministry. God was honoring who Jesus was – His character, His heart – not His actions or behavior. And if Jesus benefitted from His Father's blessing, your spouse will benefit from yours.
Words of affirmation
You have the ability, opportunity and privilege to speak a blessing to your spouse every day. At the end of a difficult day, a discouraged spouse may need to hear "I hope your boss knows how fortunate he is to have you." After a stressful day with the kids, the words "You're an amazing mom" can re-energize an exhausted heart. A blessing spoken to the heart communicates honor, value and importance.
Your spouse has some fantastic character qualities and gifts. Most of the time, however, he or she may be oblivious to these things. The Enemy works tirelessly to diminish your spouse's gifts and to minimize his or her talents and abilities, but you have an incredible opportunity to recognize and affirm these things.
Is your spouse a gifted leader? Tell her. Does your spouse show amazing compassion? Tell him. Does your spouse demonstrate extraordinary faith, giving, exhorting, discerning or wisdom? Let him or her know!
Get busy affirming your mate's gifts, talents and abilities. Speak life into your spouse's heart and communicate love by giving him or her the blessing. The apostle Paul wrote, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29). It's "life-giving" to be in a marriage where there is no unwholesome talk, but only words that bless and encourage!
As always, act like you're trying to get a second date! Sometimes in marriage, we forget that we need to pursue and "woo" our mate. Get dressed up. Be polite and open doors. Compliment each other. Be affectionate – hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. Remember to protect your date night from conflict by cutting off any arguments and agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time.
Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.
Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the same old food, pick someplace new or try a different type of cuisine.
Step 2: Bless your spouse!
Your date night activity is to practice giving your spouse the blessing. Any time you are driving or sitting together, ask each other thoughtful questions. Be a student of your spouse. Here are some discussion starters to help you bless your mate:
- What are some of your spouse's character qualities that you treasure – things like patience, compassion, creativity, dependability, discernment, flexibility, generosity, gentleness, humility, integrity and the like?
- What are some of his or her personality traits that you value – things like affectionate, relational, leader, independent, fun-loving, spontaneous, calm, sensitive, detailed, analytical and so forth?
- What has your spouse done for you lately that you appreciate or are grateful for?
- What are some of the spiritual gifts that you see in your wife or husband – things like administration, discernment, encouragement, faith, giving, healing, teaching, leadership, knowledge, mercy, service, wisdom, etc.?
- What are some of your spouse's gifts, talents and abilities that make a difference in your family or the lives of others around you? What do you hear other people affirm about your spouse?
- The apostle Paul talks about "building others up according to their needs" (Ephesians 4:29, emphasis added). Another way to bless your spouse is to meet his or her needs. But this requires you to first know what those needs are. Ask, "What are some of the things that you need from me?" Examples of relational needs include acceptance, affection, quality time, appreciation, approval, attention, gifts, comfort, encouragement, respect, security and support.
- Another way to discover your spouse's needs is to have him or her respond to this statement: I feel loved when you …
Step 3: Relax and unwind.
After your blessing date is over, find a quiet place for dessert or coffee to slow down and emotionally connect over good conversation. Ask the following questions. Be sure to keep your responses positive, encouraging and uplifting.
- What was your favorite part of the evening?
- What is one thing you learned about me tonight that you didn't know before?
- How can we make sure that blessing one another is a regular part of our marriage?
Step 4: Home sweet home.
As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. Also, think of at least one way to bless your spouse over the next few days: Offer a listening ear, demonstrate forgiveness or simply speak kindly about your spouse in front of others. Once you get home, however, it's up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!