How active Appreciation can make a difference
There is little I cherish more in our marriage than active appreciation.
Active appreciation is something Benny brought into my life.
His way of how he actively appreciates who I am and what I do has changed my life over the years.
Today, our whole family is constantly bathed in active appreciation.
When we were dating, he told me:
“The word of God says that we should “bathe the wife in the word”. I don’t believe this means that I should continuously read bible scripture to you. I rather believe that this means I should continuously speak God’s truth over your life.” (Eph. 5:25-33)
A man a word – he did it.
It was something completely new to me. In the beginning, I was just smiling, a bit nervous about so much appreciation. I used to tell him
“You are crazy…”.
But still, I acknowledged how this did build something up inside of me.
And let me tell you, it’s contagious. Today, it’s the way we talk to each other every day. Even if we are mad at each other, we keep this habit intact.
Every day I hear how beautiful he thinks I am. How he loves *specific body parts* of mine. How he likes that make-up, these pants, shoes, this top or perfume. He sees the freshly cleaned house, and he tells me so. He compliments my food. He lets me know how he loves to spend time with me, how he loves to talk with me, etc. etc.
If I feel in need of hearing what he thinks of me, I can ask him, and he will tell me for several minutes what he sees in me and how much he loves me.
In times I behave “prissily”, he looks at me in love, telling me: I love it when you are “prissily”, you look so sexy to me during these times!”
We never talk negatively about each other.
I deeply respect and admire him, and he knows that. I daily tell him that, and I show him that in many ways, adapted to who he is and to what he likes.
This may all sound a bit too fairy tale-ish and too “out of reality” to you. Maybe it sounds too perfect to apply into your own marriage. Or even impossible, because in your home, active appreciation is non-existent or very rare.
Let me tell you three facts of our true reality:
- First of all, like I wrote in the last article, we aren’t perfect. We certainly don’t have a “perfect marriage”. There are areas where we still miss things we would enjoy having in the other person. We have our personal struggles.
- Secondly, I have my close friends to whom I tell the things that frustrate or challenge me. Because, of course, as in every marriage, there are! We have our fights and frustrations about each other. I had my doubts about marrying the “right man” in circumstances when our differences of personal dreams seemed too big to adjust.
- Thirdly, as I told you in the beginning, it was Benny who brought that into my life. He was the one “showering me” daily with the God’s truth over my life. It wasn’t a mutual strength we both brought into marriage.
He certainly didn’t do it, because he always felt that way or because I was always so awesome.
Much rather it was a personal decision, to invest into his wife, keen to see the harvest of it. It was his decision to focus on the positive, instead of the negative, to actually search for the positive and to emphasize it. And when he felt like he could not see a single positive trait, he went back, focused on God’s view over me and spoke it over me.
He certainly didn’t always feel like it, but especially in those times, when he felt like nothing lovable came out of me, he decided to step out of the vicious circle and still find positive words about me. Make sure you read about vicious circles and how to break them here.
Now, you’ll probably wonder whether he ever tells me about my flaws in an honest way. Yes, he does, but there are situations when a person is open to receive advice like that and others when he or she is not. And he knows that love will change a person much more efficiently than force.
Love will change a person from the inside out, instead of from the outside in.
I can honestly tell you that this blog would not exist, had Benny not decided to apply this way of life over me.
Appreciation will open up a person for a change. And this is what I have experienced.
As a side effect the more we both apply this lifestyle, the more our marriage feels like a dream for both of us. It connects us, and it brings so much more closeness into our marriage.
- You see, active appreciation doesn’t create a perfect marriage.
However, it creates a marriage where real people with real lives create an ambiance of grace, love, acceptance, and freedom.
- Active appreciation is much more than the willingness to compliment the other person on a daily basis. It is a matter of focus and commitment. It is not possible to dwell in all the weaknesses and shortcomings of the other person and at the same time show this active appreciation. It takes a commitment “to find the gold” and to dig for it. And it is so worth it!
There is no way you can shower another person with “active appreciation” if you hate yourself. Therefore, start with your own life. Benny told me, how he started with his own life before he was able to make that investment into my life. He started to appreciate himself. The only way he was able to look at me with love in times when I didn’t behave that lovably was because he knew the source of true love, acceptance and grace: God the father, who is for us and loves us with an unconditional love.
Fact is, you can’t change your spouse. You can’t make him or her see you, appreciate you, understand you. Therefore, make a commitment to treat yourself gracefully. Do not be your worst enemy, your greatest hater and your most severe judge.
Don’t wait for your spouse to make the first step.
I know marriages that struggle with great isolation. Where one of the partners doesn’t know how to give warmth, appreciation and where he/she struggles with feeling his or her own heart.
If you are in such a relationship and hunger for warmth, appreciation and a heart-to-heart connection with your spouse, I would like to encourage you:
There is a God who cares. Who is tender and merciful, who looks at you with a loving smile, who rejoices over you with singing. A God who is more than willing to bathe you in his love, warmth, appreciation, encouragement and hope. And after one has experienced this, it gets a lot less difficult to do it with other people in your life.