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The Power of Praise

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
A man should make an effort to speak words of kindness, encouragement and humility to his wife. -


If you are a husband, do you take time to praise your wife for the many things that she does for you and for your children? In this second installment of a ten-article series on restoring marriage, Dr. Don Dunlap explains to men that merely thinking kind thoughts about their wives is not enough. He encourages husbands to direct those thoughts from their brains to their tongues, and then to lovingly articulate the words to their wives. He reminds men that speaking edifying words to their wives serves to reinforce their sense of self-worth.

The second way that a husband damages his marriage relationship is by neglecting to praise his wife for the many things that she does every day for him and for the family. A husband must not merely think kind thoughts about his wife. That is not enough. His thoughts should travel from his brain to his tongue, where they should then be articulated in carefully chosen words. A man who expresses sincere verbal compliments and words of appreciation to his wife communicates his love for her in a powerful way.

A woman has the ability to discern when her husband’s words of praise are insincere.

A wife will detect empty flattery. A husband’s words of praise should be genuine and specific. He should praise his wife, for example, for a particular character quality, a certain act of service, or a special physical attribute. Men should never speak words of affirmation to manipulate their wives or to get something that they want. This is not only deceitful and selfish, but it causes a wife to become suspicious of all her husband’s attempts to affirm her.

The writer of Proverbs 15:23 says,

A man finds joy in giving an apt reply, and how good is a timely word.

Paul exhorts us in Hebrews 3:13,

Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

We read this command in 1 Thessalonians 5:11,

Therefore, encourage one another, and build one another up, just as you also are doing.

A man should make an earnest effort to speak words of kindness, encouragement and humility to his wife.

A husband should learn to speak encouraging words. Encouraging words, spoken from his heart can be especially healing for a wife who was verbally abused as a child. Harsh, cruel words that were spoken to her when she was a child often linger condemningly in her mind. A husband’s loving words will begin to replace the pain of her early memories. His words will refresh and bless her heart.

Husbands should remember to speak kind words to their wives. We find that Ephesians 4:32 emphasizes the importance of speaking words of kindness:

Be kind and compassionate to one another.

The writer of Colossians 3:12 eloquently states,

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

It is important for a husband to speak humble words to his wife. Paul reminds us in Romans 12:10,

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Likewise, he instructs us in Ephesians 4:2,

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

A wife draws her deepest encouragement from her husband’s prayers for her.

Finally, a husband ministers to his wife’s deepest needs when he prays for her. We read these words in Colossians 4:2,

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.

A husband should look for ways to build his wife’s inner spirit. When he focuses on her weaknesses and failures, he communicates an unwillingness to accept her and love her unconditionally. He should heed the exhortation of Philippians 4:8,

Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, of good repute, and worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

A woman who is not praised by her husband gradually loses her self-respect. When she feels unaccepted by her husband, she often begins to focus materialistically on things, and has little motivation to grow personally and spiritually. However, when a husband speaks edifying words to his wife, he reinforces her sense of self-worth.


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