Do you ever find yourself yearning for more compliments from your spouse? Does it sometimes feel like a cloud of frustration and then bitterness hovers when those words of affirmation are scarce? Well, you’re not alone. In our latest podcast episode, my husband Jeff and I dive deep into the world of compliments in marriage. There is a huge importance that compliments play in marriage. With over three decades of history, we candidly discuss our journey, desires, and discoveries about the power of compliments and how to reintroduce them into your marriage.
The Yearning for Compliments
We all have different preferences when it comes to compliments. Jeff and I realized that our desires for compliments varied significantly. Jeff longed to hear appreciation for his physical appearance, his ability to provide, his intelligence, and his creativity. He yearned to be recognized for his patience with our kids and he valued compliments about his sense of humor and quick wit.
On the other hand, my desires leaned more toward homemaking and creativity. I yearned to hear compliments about the delicious meals I prepared, my homemaking skills, my efforts in training our children, my creativity in our business and, of course, my appearance.
How We Thought We Were Complimenting
In our earlier years of marriage, we believed we were complimenting each other, but in hindsight, we see things differently. Jeff realized that some of his compliments sounded condescending rather than intentional. For example, instead of offering specific affirmations, he often said things like, “You’ll figure it out,” which didn’t quite hit the mark making me feel like he believed in me, and instead left me feeling alone.
Meanwhile, I thought I was showing my affirmations towards him through acts of service. I believed that by doing things for Jeff, I was complimenting him. Little did I know that this approach didn’t meet his need for verbal affirmation.
What We See Now Looking Back
With the wisdom that time and experience have brought us, we’ve come to recognize compliments are incredibly important to keep the connection alive with our spouse and that it’s vital to know how our spouse desires to be complimented.
We have also discovered that there are times when our desire to have compliments can sometimes be driven by our own unmet needs and insecurities. I’ve come to realize that seeking compliments from my husband often stemmed from my own underdeveloped areas and a lack of self-acceptance.
What We Do Now When We Want Compliments
Our approach to compliments has evolved significantly over the years. When Jeff notices that he’s desiring compliments, he first asks himself if he’s providing me with opportunities to compliment him. He also checks in with himself and does a self-evaluation if HE is offering to me what he is wanting.
He also has learned to appreciate my strengths, like my tenacity, and even seeks to learn from them. Instead of shying away from vulnerability, he embraces compliments as a way to deepen our connection.
When I desire compliments from Jeff, I shift my focus inward and first ask myself what is going on in me that makes me want or need him to tell me I am beautiful (as an example). Am I shaming myself about my looks and needing him to comfort the wound I am creating to make me feel better?
If there’s one takeaway we’d like to leave you with, it’s this: Stay curious. Curiosity can lead to understanding, empathy, and growth in your relationship. Compliments, when genuine and heartfelt, can be a powerful tool in strengthening the bonds of marriage. So, keep the flame alive by acknowledging and appreciating the unique qualities and efforts of your spouse.
If you wish your spouse would compliment you more and you’re wondering how to reintroduce compliments into your marriage, I invite you to listen in to our latest podcast episode on compliments and how they affect a marriage. On this latest episode, we candidly share our history of withholding compliments and how we have communicated our needs for affirmation (and how you can too), which has further deepened our connection.
Where to Find Me
INSTAGRAM: Follow & connect with me at @HeyJuliaWoods
YOUTUBE: Subscribe to @HeyJuliaWoods
PODCAST: Listen at Hey Julia Woods
SHOP: Marriage Resources
WEBSITE: Find more resources (couple’s coaching & retreats) at BeautifulOutcome.com
FACEBOOK: Like me at /HeyJuliaWoods