I want you to do a quick mental exercise with me. I want you to picture your partner in your mind’s eye. Make it flattering. And make sure they are smiling. You can smile too.
Holding onto this image, I want you to bring to mind a quality in your partner that makes you smile.
Now a quality that makes you proud.
And now something you find attractive.
Good job. Now here is the difficult part. When is the last time your partner heard you speak any of these qualities out loud? Have they ever heard you brag about them to someone else? How frequently do you remind yourself of this admiration you hold towards your spouse?
If you are like most couples, the answer is in the ball park of “I have no idea when the last time was.” or “I’m sure it’s not that long ago, right?” or even worse “Well I’m sure she knows how I feel, we don’t have to speak it.”
Healthy marriages and strong relationships run on admiration and encouragement shared between partners. Assuming your partner simply knows this truth is like assuming you’ve got enough gas in the car to make the next trip. You might be correct; but you also might find yourself unexpectedly broken down short of the destination, cursing yourself for not paying a little more attention, and regretting the multitude of missed opportunities to fill up the tank.
Love & Encouragement Jar
Here is an exercise to help you share love and encouragement with one another more frequently. I call it the Love & Encouragement Jar. All you need is a jar or container (preferably clear), two different colors of strips of paper, and a pen. You can also purchase them from Your Marriage Matters and help to support our work!
Place the jar, paper and pens in a location that is visible and frequently passed. Then each day be mindful of what you find admirable, attractive or pleasingabout your spouse as you go about your day. At some point during the day, write it down on your color of paper and place it into the jar. (Remember, you aren’t allowed to take them out and read them yet!) Then once a week, sit down together and pull out all of your colored slips. Take turns reading out loud to your partner what you’ve written about them that prior week. Laugh, hug, cry, have fun!
Do this for 4 weeks. At the end of those 4 weeks sit down and share with one another what it’s been like to hear spoken the admiration and encouragement from your spouse. How has it changed the way you look at or think about each other? After those 4 weeks you don’t need to continue the weekly ritual, but you might want to adapt it in some other way. You might continue to write down encouragements on occasion and bring them with you on a date to read. Or you might change the rules so that when you see a slip in the jar you’re allowed to grab it and read it.
Tell us about your experience with the Love & Encouragement Jar in the comments below!