“Ten years from now, your husband will be the person you built him up to be.”
A wise friend said this to me several years ago. We were on a walk around our neighborhood, toddlers in tow, and I was in the early – and very ill – stages of my second pregnancy. I looked forward to this time as a chance to vent about some argument my husband and I recently had and was just looking for my friend to listen and commiserate with me. What I got instead was a wake-up call and a new perspective on the simple power of encouragement.
No marriage is perfect, and dynamics and “pressure points” are sure to change once kids enter the picture. Why was my default becoming a focus on – and pointing out – the negatives instead of the positives? Motherhood exhaustion was not an excuse to tear down my husband, my partner, my co-parent.
30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge
Around the same time, my older sister asked me if I would be interested in joining her in a “30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge.” With my recent conversation with my neighbor fresh in my mind and on my heart, I said “YES”. The 30-day challenge I did is from a Christian organization. Regardless of anyone’s faith background, the key objective of this challenge is something anyone can do. The 30-day challenge I participated in includes a daily prayer and Bible verse. Each day has a specific focus: voicing gratitude, rooting out bitterness and resentment, appreciating strengths, taking time to listen, etc.
How does it work? It’s simple. For 30 days, try not to say anything negative about your spouse. Build him/her up with your words and actions. It helps to name something specific, even if it does seem forced or cliche at first. For example: “I really appreciate how hard you work to provide for the family”, “Thank you for noticing I was so tired and taking over bedtime for the kids”. Instead of venting and airing grievances over your girlfriend coffee date, look for something positive to share instead.
Is this easy? Not always. Did I complete it perfectly each time I attempted it? Of course not. But the conscious effort to say and do positive things to and about my spouse instead of complaining and arguing always helps me “refresh” my relationship.
Our Kiddos Need This Too!
As I walk deeper down the path of motherhood, I have seen how this habit of encouragement can transform parent-child relationships too. Encouraging my children came so naturally when they were very young and learning how to master the very basics like crawling or holding a spoon. I don’t know exactly when it all shifted, but it did. “C’mon sweetie, you can do it!” turned into “C’mon and just DO it!” In the (daily) difficult moments of mothering, I find myself voicing frustration more easily than positive building-up words. Other factors like wait time and attentiveness often go right out the window. This is exactly the opposite of what our kids need to thrive. Our words and actions are powerful, and a change of perspective can have a tremendous impact.
Whole30 for Your Heart and Relationships
So here’s my challenge to you, fellow mama. We are quick to try new beauty and health trends that promise great results – why can’t we do the same for our relationships? Think of this challenge as Whole30 for your heart: make a conscious effort to speak encouragement to and about your spouse and your kids – even when they aren’t around to listen. Set aside the next 30 days to be a time where you are conscious about encouraging your family members, and see what a positive difference it makes in the relationships in your life!
Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!