Friday, August 19, 2011

Becoming An Encouragement Guru

Happy Friday friends! If you are visiting my blog today from the Proverbs 31 Encouragement For Today devotion, Crosswalk or Bible Gateway, I extend a special welcome to you!

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Today's P31 devotion, called "I fully intended to....", discussed some communication habits that most married couples find themselves falling into. Word habits, which if left unnoticed, can be fatal to a marriage.

In the devotion, I made reference to a book I read a couple years ago (The Man Whisperer, by Rick Johnson) which had a significant impact on my heart, and in turn, my husband and my marriage.

In this book, Rick talked about how all women think their men "need improvement", in some area of their life or marriage relationship, but how most women go about trying to change their men in all the wrong ways.

Although his statement may sound a little abrupt, let's be honest.....the odds of finding a woman who can honestly say that she does not wish to change one single thing about her husband would probably be slim to none! And just to be fair, I am sure there are husbands who would also like to change some things about their wives.

But regardless of who wants to see change in who, or what small or big changes are desired, there are certain ways that can help foster and promote change, and then there are ways that can not only stifle change, but destroy a relationship.

Wives have the power to bring out the best in their husband's through the simple act of using encouraging words. Once we recognize the subtle power of persuasion that our words hold, we can help our man become the best he can be, and the best that God created him to be.

In my Ebook "14 Days To A Happier Marriage", I share a personal experience that a sweet woman shared on my blog last year, when I was talking then about the power of encouraging words. Here is that excerpt below:

"She stated that her husband was not an emotional or affectionate man, and that their relationship was strained. She was hesitant to try to compliment him, because she did not think he would be responsive or appreciative. But she stated that as soon as she spoke those words of encouragement to him, he "melted like a marshmallow". I just loved that analogy!

I am not saying that all men are like marshmallows, but all men do need encouragement, and need to believe that they are respected and admired. Men are born with the need to be admired, just as women are born with the need to be touched and loved."

I'll admit there are days (more days than I might want to admit) that I do not use encouraging words. Sometimes the enemy just seems to take my tongue hostage and I find myself falling back into the habit of saying things that are not building up my man.

I have found that this not only tears my husband down, but brings me down as well, because of two reasons. One - because I feel convicted by the Holy Spirit when I know my words have been discouraging; and two - because I am quickly aware that my words were also displeasing to God.

God's Word encourages us, to encourage one another - especially when it comes to our husbands, the one whom we made a convenant of love with.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,...." (NIV) . 

Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,.."

Hebrews 10:22-25 in The Message Bible puts that verse this way: "So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching."

These verses gently instruct us to not only use our words to encourage others, but to be inventive and creative in doing so!

Friends, I want to encourage you today to ask yourself a few questions in the solitude of your prayer time.  Ask yourself, if the words that you have been saying to your husband lately would fall into the category of encouraging, or discouraging. Have your words been building him up, or tearing down his self esteem? Is it possible that you need to seek God's grace, asking Him to cleanse your heart of bitterness or resentment, allowing you to see your husband in a more positive light, and equipping you to be more loving with your words?

These are tough questions, and some of us may secretly be ashamed of our honest answers. Some of us may wonder if it is possible to ever break the habits that our mouths have formed, and if Jesus can free our tongues from being held hostage by the enemy.

Some of us may wonder, just like the woman who posted that comment on my blog last year, if your husband would be receptive to a change in you, as you strive to encourage him.

Yet, if you feel convicted by this challenge to begin changing your bad habits into good habits that can help bring sweet, refreshing changes into your marriage relationship through encouraging words, God can help you push past all those insecurities and fears.

Today is a great day to trust that God's ways are always best, and to accept the challenge of becoming an encouragement guru.

I love the old prayer that says, "Lord, help me change the things I can, accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference."

We have no control to make other people change, but we have complete control over changing the pattern of words that leave our lips. Through controlling our own tongues and using loving words to our husbands, we open the door for God to begin doing great things in our marriage.

Faith has to precede any commitment to positive change, and when God gets involved, change is good.

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Anonymous said...

Excellent post today Tracie. This devotion was key in reminding me that daily I need to pray for God's help in speaking words that build up to my husband and my children.

Anonymous said...

This just breaks my can I trust, adore, respect my husband through my actions and my words...unconditionally when he continues to do the same thing over and over again for 8 years that does not warrant adoration, respect....I feel resentment, dissapointment...all the opposites of what he needs. I am not getting what I need and in turn he is not getting what he needs. I have tried to be that person in the past and just hide all those emotions under the rug and still try to treat him with fake adoration and respect so that everything would be smooth and he did not change or behave any differently. I don't know what to do....except pray for a change in me and continue to pray for a change in him.....

Anonymous said...

My marriage is certainly strained at the present time. My husband has been laid off work several times in the past 10 years, actually out of work more than he has worked. He went back to college in the 90's but was unable to graduate so that led him to small, low paying jobs which most often led to layoff. I find it hard to build him up even unsure if that's the problem. He doesn't seem concerned about the fact that I work two jobs and have responsibility of the entire household. I tried to encourage him during the time he was in college but now he just tells me he didn't want to go any way. Yes, I do not feel it warrants respect, admiration. I resent him for it. Needless to say, it is a difficult time. Please pray for me as I try to build up and encourage and as I seek God's direction for the situation.

Carol said...

"Men are born with the need to be admired, just as women are born with the need to be touched and loved."

Ifeel like I just got an NCIS head slap! My husband is full of encouraging words to me. So much so that sometimes I think just stop. Too many. But now I'm thinking that's his way of asking for more encouraging words from me.
Sometimes we give what we want most to receive.

Stacy N said...

I would say to the anonymous posters here that our men deserve our admiration because of who they are (and whose they are) not because of what they do. So hard to separate the two, I know, but we can love them and build them up in the areas that are real. "I love you because you have the best smile" (or whatever trait you can find). It will snowball if you let it!

Anonymous said...

Your post today, Tracie, really hit home to me. It almost sounded like ME speaking! I am known as a very positive person, and always try to look for the positives in others. However, lately, I have looked more at the negatives in my husband, and have lost some respect (unwarranted, because he is a wonderful man). Just yesterday I put up a sticky note on my bathroom mirror with Psalm 141:3 written on it - as a daily reminder....."Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." I will put this Scripture to memory and stop myself short when I hear that inner negative voice starting to rear it's ugly head. Sandee

Anonymous said...

Sometimes we can say some hurtful things to each other. We must take the time to address the issues.And work through them.We can let our spouses know their words hurt with getting angry, but that that prayer. Praying together works great.

Anonymous said...

This really hit home today. My marriage has not been good for a few years now and I've found my wall I'd built isn't coming down very easy because it seems like the cycle of good, bad, good, bad keeps continuing. I don't have much respect for my husband and for me it's not so much my words, but my thoughts and behavior towards him that I know need to change.

Anonymous said...

This post definately applies to me today. My husband and I have been married almost 20 years and I think of the mistakes we've both made over the years in regards to how we speak to each other and to our children.
It is a challenge to remember to put God first and allow Him to direct your path to iclude being kind and respectful to a husband who may not be the same in return.
I just have to remember God is in control, but I also have to be alert and do the things I need to do.

Anonymous said...

This posting made me cry. I'm not sure I even have a right to post anything. My husband divorced me almost a year ago and I miss him so much. I still cry every day and pray to my faithful God for healing and restoration. I am constantly reminded of all the hurtful things I said and did and how I would do anything possible to take them back. My husband was and is the most amazing, talented man but at the time, I was blinded by my own insecurity and pride. Every morning he is the first thought that comes into my mind and I still cry myself to sleep at night. I know God has forgiven me but that doesn't help the loneliness and loss I still feel. Please pray for me and pray that Jason's heart will be healed of the hurt I caused and he will someday find a way to forgive me.

First Lady Haze said...

OUCH!!! I was seriously moved to check out your blog after reading the Proverbs 31 devotional this morning. Thanks for the conviction, Holy Spirit, and thanks Tracie for allowing yourself to be a vessel. I'm checking out "The Man Whisperer" by Rick Johnson now. OUCH!!

Tracie Miles said...

Hi everyone - thank you so much for all of your comments! My heart breaks to hear from those of you who are struggling and hurting. Please know that I am not a stranger to your feelings of frustration which make it hard mustering up the desire and the energy to encourage your husband with words, especially when there are a lot of difficult and hurtful things have occurred. I can only say that it is always all about God's power, and not our own, and when we give what is hardest to give, God will come through. I will be praying for you all. Even though I do not know your names, God does. :) I will also pray about how to further address some of your concerns on my blog soon.

Becky W. said...

Wow, what timing! My husband just talked to me tonight about needing more from me. He has really worked on changing his faults over the years and I have not reciprocated. I completely agree with him and what a great way to start - by giving him the gift of encouraging words! Lord, please help me lift up my husband as much as he lifts me up! Amen!

Anonymous said...

How can you build up someone who is destroying himself? An alcholic who lost multiple jobs and then after losing the last one started drinkng heavily. He let me go to work and support the family while he sat home and drank all day. Verbally abused me and the kids especially when drinking? I am so sad at the loss of our family. I couldn't encourage him anymore after years of it. I prayed for God's help. He answered prayer but not how I expected. My heart is broken but my now ex ran away from his family. He told me I wasn't making him happy and wouldn't change. We were married over 20 years.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this with all of us! I am having a very hard time right now in my marriage. Everything seems so upside down right now and I don't know who to turn to and or what to do. I know I should pray, but when I start, I shut down and panic and anxiety sets in! Last year, my husband was unfaithful-he didn't actually have a physical affair, but he was definately getting very emotionaly attached to another married woman and was pushing me and our daughter away. I have been rejected by men my whole life-I just met my biological dad when I was 22 and still, he really doesn't have a whole lot of interest in getting to know me. So, when my husband starting pushing me away, it brought back all of the insecurities and fears of being rejected when I was little. Now, I am a complete mess and I constantly ask my husband over and over, do you love me! We have been together for 15 years and I feel like everything has just been a lie. I worry and panic all the time and I'm not enjoying life! My husband and I have had lots of talks and he has said sorry, but I feel like I can't trust him. I don't want to live like this anymore-always worrying, not being able to trust him, getting jealous when he just says hi to old friends (especially women)--I don't know what to do. It is to the point now, that my husband feels like he can't talk to anyone, because I might start to panic and worry, and think that something is going on between my husband and that other person(woman).

Do you have any suggestions?