Your Words Have Power To Heal Or Hurt
Words are powerful. They have the power to build up or destroy. Do you know the affect of your words on others? Learning to communicate and express yourself in a way the other person understands is key to any relationship. For some, a word of encouragement is the most meaningful thing to them. Words are one of the languages of love. (For a brief introduction to the 5 Love Languages, read this article). According to Dr. Chapman, 'Words of Affirmation' includes any verbal or written expression of love. If you or your spouse can identify with this love language, then it is important to understand the different ways you can show/receive love. These could include the following as Dr. Chapman explains:
Simple, straightforward statements of affirmation.
Encourage means to ’inspire courage’. Perhaps your spouse has untapped potential awaiting your encouraging words to help them blossom.
This includes both the words used and the tone of voice to say them. Use kind words and say them in an honest, gentle, soft manner.
Making a request, not a demand, as equal, adult partners. A request gives guidance and includes the element of choice. A demand is an ultimatum and ultimately drives the spouse away.
Saying positive things about your spouse when they are not present, eventually it will come back to your spouse.
Lifting up your spouse in front of other people when they are present.
In all of these ways, think about this: "The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love."
If words of affirmation is not your primary love language but it is your spouse's, try keeping a notebook titled "Words of Affirmation." When you read a book or article or listen to a lecture or seminar on love, write down the encouraging phrases you hear. If you overhear others saying positive things about others, write them down and in time you will have a list of words to use when expressing love to your spouse. For one week, make an effort to compliment your spouse on one thing throughout the day. Once a month, write a note of encouragement or find a card from the store that expresses your love in words and give it to your spouse.
Words of affirmation are neither Patrik's nor my top love language, but we definitely can see the power our words have to affect one another. It's even more difficult considering our mother tongue's are different languages. I can be critical of Patrik's words or tones, but I need to remember (even though his English is fluent) that it is not his mother tongue, so his perspective is different. Patrik and I learned in marriage counseling, if either partner has a different mother tongue, it is important this person has an opportunity to express their appreciation in their native language, even if the other person doesn't understand the words--a lot is missed in tones and expression when it's a different language. I have experienced that when I speak Swedish, my personality changes because I can't express myself as naturally as I can in English. I personally am encouraged learning about words of affirmation so I can grow, and express appreciation to those around me.
If words are your top love language, what makes you feel loved in this way? If words are your partner’s top love language, which ways have you found to encourage with words? If you and your spouse have different mother tongues, what do you do to make sure the other feels affirmed with words?