Paula is married to a man who is not a Christian. For years this has understandably been a source of disappointment and frustration for her. She tried every way she could think of to share the good news of God’s grace with him to no avail. She prayed continually for him to come to Christ, but he stayed firmly outside the faith. The marriage itself suffered as, she says, “we pressed each other’s buttons with heartbreaking regularity.”
Paula was dubious at first, but she accepted the challenge. She says the challenge is misnamed, for rather than being a challenge it turned out to be a joy that has stretched well beyond thirty days, now lasting for years. The result was that her marriage was transformed. She wrote, “First, my husband, a longtime critic of my cooking, suddenly took up making gourmet meals for me. Then my husband, formally stingy with compliments, began to routinely greet me with, ‘Hi, Gorgeous.’ Finally, my husband, a person who treasures automobiles, became my knight in shining armor when I dented—no, dismantled—our brand-new Toyota Camry in an accident directly related to my inept driving.” She began to notice something she had forgotten since their days of dating, that her husband is a wonderful, talented man of character whose company she cherished.
This woman spent many years looking at the negative aspects of her husband and her marriage, and it only produced despair. She learned to her amazement that the person who needed to change was her. Paula’s story reminds me of the power of encouragement and affirmation. It is a lesson we all need to learn. It is so easy to forget that every person we know, especially the spouses of those of us who are married, is desperately thirsty for affirmation. It is an especially potent reminder for women, who often have no idea how powerfully they can impact their husbands either negatively or positively, merely by whether they communicate to them that they believe in them and respect them, or do just the opposite.