Episode 1. Words of Affirmation
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Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment”. It’s true, when people affirm us and encourage us – it somehow builds us up inside. Join Berni Dymet – as he looks at …
Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment”. It’s true, when people affirm us and encourage us – it somehow builds us up inside.
Another new week. You know last week on A Different Perspective we went on a bit of a journey to look at how we can have the kind of marriage that we were meant to have. I guess we looked at some of the really important foundation stones to a great marriage and if you missed those programs I’ll let you know at the end of this program how you can listen to them again.
This week we’re going to build on those foundations by looking at how to speak the language of love to our wives or our husbands, a language that they can actually understand.
A man, by the name of Gary Chapman has written a book, it’s a great book called The Five Love Languages, in which he points out that too often husband and wife are actually speaking different love languages without even realising they’re doing it. That leads to hurt and frustration and anger and a sense that “Oh, my husband doesn’t love me, or my wife doesn’t love me.” So what are the five love languages, and why are they important?
Well in his book Gary Chapman says there are five different basic languages of love and these are the five that he lists: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.
So the first one again is words of affirmation, affirming each other through what we say. The second one is spending quality time together, isn’t that a happening phrase! The third one is receiving gifts, the forth, acts of service, the fifth, physical touch.
Think about it, we all need all of those things in a loving relationship, after all what would quality time between a husband and wife be without some encouraging words or physical touch. But it turns out that for most of us there are one or two out of those five that are the primary ways in which we perceive that our soul mate is expressing love to us.
Me, I’m odd because I’m not really a touchy feely person yet physical touch is my primary love language. (we’ll talk about that in a few days time) But if my wife Jacqui doesn’t touch me all day, I don’t feel loved, and she can say “I love you” as many times as she likes but it doesn’t feel like it to me unless she touches me.
For Jacqui its acts of service, that’s who she is, she’s hard wired that way. She loves serving other people, that’s how she naturally expresses her love. Now imagine we don’t ever realise that, imagine we get married and we live our lives and we never realise that about each other. How do you think the marriage would go? How do you think it would pan out over the years?
Well the answer is, not so well, because if my primary love language is touch then the natural thing that I will do is to express my love that way to my wife, but if her primary love language is acts of service, if I all I ever do is express my love by touching her and never serving her, the chances are she’ll never feel as though I’m saying I love her.
And it’s the same with me, if she thinks she can express her love to me just by serving me, because that’s what she does naturally, she’s great at it, she does it with me, she does it with all sorts of people, everyone she meets. She’s just a person who loves to serve. But if she thinks that she can express all of her love that way to me and not understand that what I really need is that touch which says “I love you,” in my language, she’s never going to say I love you in a language that I can understand.
So it’s important, not only to understand what is it that I need my partner to say to me or do to me, so that I experience their love in a way that makes sense to me, but more important than that is to understand our spouses language and to learn to express our love in a way that they can receive it.
You know something, that’s not easy, and some days it doesn’t feel natural. And over the course of this week we’re going to look at those different love languages, starting today with words of affirmation, and I guess just share some practical insights and tips and stuff that I’ve experienced along the way. And my heart is that as we do that God will speak His grace and His love into your life, into your marriage.
And if you’re not married, maybe you know someone who needs to hear these things and you can share with them the good news that marriage is a blessing from God. Marriage was God’s idea in the first place, it’s supposed to be wonderful. Not perfect everyday, not easy everyday, but it’s supposed to be a wonderful union and experience between husband and wife.
Well let’s begin today with words of affirmation. King Solomon, one of the Kings of Israel, way back in the book of Proverbs in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. He wrote this, he said,
The tongue has the power of life and death, reckless words are like a sword but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
We do say that sticks and stones might break our bones but names will never hurt us, but that’s not true. What people say to us either builds us up and encourages us or it tears us down and breaks us. Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” We know what he is saying; he’s saying the same thing as Solomon.
What people say to one another actually matters an awful lot. Now Solomon and Mark Twain are saying, well, stuff that we already know. Verbal compliments or words that affirm someone are a powerful communicator of love, and in fact children growing up, particularly teenagers, if they don’t receive those words of encouragement, it undermines their sense of identity and security.
But here’s the thing, words of affirmation cost nothing to give, but they reflect what’s going on inside in our hearts.
Jesus said “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
And for someone whose primary language of love is words of affirmation, when they hear us affirming them that says ‘this person loves me’. The words aren’t the important thing its what the words represent. They represent what’s going on in our hearts. The person whose primary love language is words of affirmation needs to know in our hearts that we love them and they receive that love through the words.
“Gee you look great in that dress.” “Darling I know you’re working hard, you know I really appreciate it.” “Sweetheart that was a great dinner.” “Thanks so much for picking up the kids.” “You’ve got such a great sense of humour; I love it when we laugh together.”
Not rocket science is it, none of that? You don’t have to have a PhD in Psychology to figure out that those words are good words. Just forget about the main love language for the moment, every marriage needs those words because the message is “I genuinely appreciate you.”
And you know something when we do that we get benefits back. That’s not why we do it, but those words bear fruit in our relationship. Is my wife or my husband one of those people whose primary love language is words of affirmation? Well, have you every heard them say, “You don’t appreciate me, you never say thank you, you take me for granted?” Those are cries of love from someone who needs affirmation. Listen, answer.
The Apostle Paul in Ephesians, Chapter 4 verse 29, wrote this, he said,
Don’t let evil talk come out of your mouth but only words that build up other people so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
Words of affirmation cost nothing, they’re free. Why is it that we let them go in our marriage? Why is it that we forget to say, “That was wonderful, you’re wonderful, I love you.” “That was a fantastic meal.” “You look fabulous.”
They’re one of the greatest love gifts that we can ever give. They cost nothing, but to someone whose primary love language is words of affirmation they mean everything.