A happy, healthy marriage won’t just happen by chance. We have to be intentional or no doubt, things will get flabby. My husband and I have had lots of issues throughout our 18 years together and of course, there’ll be more. What we’ve learned has mostly been the hard way. But there’s no need to be discouraged about marriage being hard. We place a much higher value on something we fight for.
Our relationship doesn’t always feel great. We argued yesterday, but here’s the thing — we have a simple habit that we practice daily that helps keep our love strong and our fights fair.
We use words of affirmation a LOT. This habit regularly builds trust, respect and admiration.
When it’s our habit to praise our partner, they feel safe and secure with us. Even when things are tough, they can trust that we’ll fight to seek what’s best for our relationship. If we are in the habit of respecting and admiring our spouse — even our lowest blows aren’t so very low. In fact, one of the lowest blows between Dwight & I is to call the other by their given name.
Oh no he DIDN’T just call me Jamie…
For real, it’s rare y’all. When we hear the other call us by our given name, we know we’ve flown into a danger zone. But that’s a good thing. Threats to our relationship are going to happen and when they do it’s important to be aware of it — to proceed with caution toward reconciliation. Better to be called by our given name than something that does irreversible damage deep inside.
I’m far from a relationship expert, but I am being taught by the best of the best, the Lord Himself. The Song of Solomon is my favorite book of the Bible. My prayer was that God would help me love like He does and He led me to this Song — thee song, actually. It’s only 8 chapters, but it continually inspires me like nothing else ever has. Here is my Song of Solomon journal/study busting at the seam.
And here is the S.O.S. inspired quilt that I made for us.
Here, I’m tea-staining the muslin for the quilt to make it look more like an old love letter. I can’t even believe I had the patience to see this thing through!
Yes, I treasure this song. It’s full of words of affirmation. All throughout, the bride and groom have given each other special names — names that assure them that they belong — it’s my this and my that. They liken one another as a whole, and their individual parts to the best things in life.
It may seem like empty words, but this practice actually trains our eyes, hearts and minds to search for everything good that we can find — adding value upon value to the one we love. It has the most purifying effect on us – not only making the other person more beautiful to us, but our own reflection in their eyes grows more beautiful. What’s more? Those closest to us (like our children!) are influenced by our love.
Are you up for a challenge?
For each day of the month of February, let’s use a different special name for (or description of) our spouse when we interact with them.
Need inspiration? Read the Song of Solomon. When we belong to Jesus Christ, this is how He sees us. We can let His words fill us to overflowing so that they spill over toward our spouse.
Listen to other love songs. Think back to when you and your spouse were first in love and bring those thoughts into the present. Be captivated by them all over again.
This may be your habit already, but there’s always room for improvement. The more we practice, the better we’ll get. If you like to share on social media use #affirm2017.
Much love in life, faith & art ~ Jamie
*side note: In some circumstances, a relationship can be so strained that this challenge simply cannot be done. Please don’t lose heart. It only indicates that you need to bring in a third party to help understand what’s going on between you that has created this barrier. We’ve been here ourselves and outside help was the only way to move forward. God bless you as you fight for your relationship with wise counsel.