Complement-less Marriages: 6 Simple Ways to Complement Your Spouse

Proverbs 11:25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.

Who doesn’t like a complement?  It’s very rare (and I mean rare) where you legitimately find someone who doesn’t enjoy (not necessarily seeking after) a genuine complement.

I’m not talking about flattering someone.  The purpose of flattery is to get a reaction or a response that will directly benefit the person giving the so-called “complement.” A true complement is selflessly giving for the purpose of affirming and encouraging someone with zero manipulation.  Edification should be the only motivation behind complements.

When it comes to marriage, it seems that the longer people are together, the more apt they are to take complements for granted.  They seem so small, and to some so insignificant, but they’re a huge need in your relationship. One of my favorite books to use in premarital counseling is Gary and Barbara Rosberg’s, “The 5 Sex Needs of Men & Women.” In it both him and his wife discuss the top 5 needs of both genders.  Of the five, two needs are shared amongst both sexes: Connection (purposefully linking into your spouse’s world) and Affirmation (offering emotional support or encouragement).

Think about it, genuine and meaningful compliments touch at least two of the most intimate needs us as human beings have.  That’s the power of a complements.  The key to this, and it may seem difficult, is the mentality behind it.  Yes I want you both to go after this. But I want our mindset to be very personal.  Let it start with you. If you go into this complementing thing waiting for him/her to start it and/or reciprocating it, you’re more about flattery than the true complement. Make this both a personal strategy as well as a couple’s strategy.

Marriage issues are never a quick fix.  But sometimes it’s the small changes that help turn the Titanic around.

Here’s you go…6 easy ways to compliment your spouse:

1 – Go After the Effort. Guys, she may not care about your vehicle, hobby, or sporting interest, but if she asks, it means she’s trying to connect with you. Ladies, don’t think to yourself, “he doesn’t really care.” He does and he’s trying. It may not look or sound the way you want but he’s attempting to connect with you.

The quickest way to shut down any progress in a marriage is to look pessimistically at attempts to step forward. I’ve always counseled parents to praise the efforts of their kids and not necessarily just the accomplishment.  Why don’t we do that with our spouse? Why do so many of us jump at the criticism before gratitude and encouragement?

2 – Look for the obvious.  Don’t be the person that says, “he/she already knows how I feel.” From his/her role in the family to how he/she loves Jesus, bring out the obvious things.  

Both men and women deal with the lure of constant comparison with the people in their lives.  We are faced with constant changes physically, emotionally, and mentally. Don’t take ANY obvious complement for granted.

3 – Go after the not-so-obvious. Guys, your wife loves details. Saying “you look nice” doesn’t cut it.  Look beyond the surface words and specifically point things out. She works hard on details.  You should work hard on noticing them. Ladies, get after what he is into.  You may not care specifically about it, but you care about him. Asking and encouraging will bring you into his world. When you two get past the surface, it speaks value to your spouse. Ask yourself, “what does he/she think I don’t notice.”  Go after that.

4 – Get spiritual.  When was the last time you complimented his/her desire for a deeper relationship with God.  I’ve met too many spouses that have an intimidation of their partner’s spirituality.  Get over that and encourage their walk with Christ.  Feed your spouse’s every spiritual step toward Jesus with high levels of encouragement.  That doesn’t mean that you are doing the same bible studies and having 3-hour prayer services together before you go to bed. Celebrate what Jesus is doing in your marriage and each other’s lives.  

5 – Be frequent. Please don’t use the words, “I’ve already said that.” I’m not sure that I’ve ever met a couple who complement/encourage too much.  Making a habit of affirming your spouse keeps, what Gary Chapman would say, your husband’s/wife’s “love tank” filled.  Far to many affairs have happened because someone stepped into a void left by an unmet need. Leave no place for anyone to out-complement you when it comes to your spouse.  Do it often and do it well.

6 – Leave no strings attached. Ever met that person that gave you a compliment with the expectation you were going to give one back.  It’s self-serving and manipulative.  Pour encouragement into your spouse with zero expectations back.  Why? It fosters humility. It removes pride.  The right motives are developed and lived.

Do you want it reciprocated back?  Sure you do.  But stringless edification sets down “self” in order to place your spouse’s needs first. Imagine if you had two individuals doing this at the same time in their marriage. That’d be the craziest display of marital health you’ve ever seen.

Proverbs 11:25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.

Have any one of us “arrived.”  Not at all.  Whenever I feel like I’m good at it, either I take it for granted or, out of my humanity, I begin to attach strings.  You’re human which means your broken.  But don’t let that be your excuse not to take intentional, self-initiated steps toward building up your spouse.  When you step forward to bless your spouse, the natural outcome is you and your marriage get blessed (Proverbs 11:25). Don’t be stingy.  Don’t neglect it. Speak out and build up your spouse.

Again, don’t expect everything to change over night or assume marriage issues are a quick fix.  Take it a moment at a time. Take it one word of edification at a time. And watch your humility and encouragement change the atmosphere of your marriage.

Thanks for letting me ramble…


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