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…


2 Minute Marriage Devo: “Accusing Your Spouse” Rev. 12:10

This video doesn’t exist

June is our journey through some scripture selections on the topic of Marriage.  I want to invite you to join me. It’s as simple as looking at the blog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Revelation 12:10:

Revelation 12:10

10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers[a]has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

Ten Things I Hate About My Spouse


If you were to ask your friends/family/coworkers to make a “TOP TEN” list for you, what type of list would they make? Would it be, “Ten Things I Hate About My Spouse”?  Or would it be “Ten Things I Love About My Spouse”?

I almost borrowed the title of the 1999 teen romance film, “Then Things I Hate About You.” But I didn’t want to make you think we were just turning this blog into a movie review for lame movies from our past.

Between recent blog-posts and a pre-marital counseling appointment, one theme has been constantly staring at me in the face: Marriage Edification.  Of my marriage blogger friends, this week must have highlighted a theme that either they organized (without telling me) OR the Holy Spirit was trying to speak something specific into marriages.

Even this morning, I went through my early morning routine of waking up and immediately checking my twitter feed. There were more edification blogs. I did a quick count of 3 edification blogs in 12 hours that, specifically, was wives edifying their husbands.   With titles like: “Why I love my husband”, “Reasons I love my husband”, and “11 Reasons I love my sexy husband”, it seems everyone is on a similar page.

These wives were sharing things like:
– He laughs with me.
– He flirts with me in front of the kids
– He lets me wear his sweatshirts
– I trust him with my heart
– (my personal favorite) When I asked him to get rid of the “whitey-tighties,” he did.

Do you have a “Top Ten”?  Can you come up with 10? 

The question came: Have we stopped edifying our spouse?  How do I speak about my spouse?

A simple definition of edify is to build up.  One dictionary says to verbalize especially so as to encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement.

Maybe we can make it simpler: To uplift.

When we were courting our spouse, we were filled with words that caught the ear of the one we were in love with.  There were phrases spoken that unashamedly expressed feelings and sensations.  Even to friend and family around you, there was no mistake how you felt. Some of those words came out in a written letter.  Other times it was over the phone.  No matter the method, those days were times where your words could not be contained by silence.  Your date/fiancé knew exactly what you felt and why you felt that way.

Does he/she still feel edified?

Now a days, we don’t verbalize anything but criticism to our spouse.  They hear nothing but shortcomings and put downs.   Even worse, maybe all he/she gets from you is silence.

What about the people you talk/facebook/email to?  What do they hear you say about your spouse?  Is it words like, “can you believe HE did this?” and “you’ll never guess what SHE expected me to do.”

I’ll ask you the initial question we asked earlier in the blog: If you were to ask your friends/family/coworkers to make a “TOP TEN” list for you, what type of list would they make? Would it be, “Ten Things I Hate About My Spouse”?  Or would it be “Ten Things I Love About My Spouse”?

Where would their information come from?
– Your conversations with them
– They way you talk to your spouse in public
– Your body language when your spouse walks into the room
– They way you talk to your spouse in front of the kids

By our words and actions, would they have a stronger case for the “hate” list over the “love” list?

Hebrews 3:13 is what jumps out to me.  “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Do you hear the warning?  Encourage DAILY.  If you don’t, the results are painful.  Your marriage will be hardened.  Unfeeling. Deceived.  I understand the context of the passage was speaking, generally, to all of God’s people.  I think it would be VERY appropriate to carry that principle into our marriage.  TRUTH: Choosing to not edify your spouse is asking for a hardened and callused marriage.

TRUTH: You cannot assume your spouse knows how you feel! They need to hear it.  They need to see it.  Then take it a step further: edify your spouse to the people around you.  It will accomplish four things:

  1. Pleases the heart of God. 
  2. Rekindles your passion by uplifting the one you have become one with.
  3. It will get back to your spouse and, thus, rekindle their passion.
  4. Leaves no room for the enemy to fill the need for edification by anyone else.

Take some time to make a “top ten” list.  Share it over dinner.  Share it on a date (unless you’re in a theater then wait till after).  Even better, share it in bed.  It’s great pillow talk.

Thanks for letting me ramble…