My whole job here is to save and enrich key relationships. I have learned some things about what makes a marriage work. Here are the three things your spouse needs to hear every day.
To introduce the first thing that your spouse needs to hear every day, I'm turning to my friend Woody Woodward. Woody wrote a book called, Your Emotional Fingerprint. He also produced a movie where he gets into this theory and I think he's probably right.
We are driven as human beings by what makes us feel important. With that context, let's go to what your spouse needs to hear from you.
They need to hear some version of this phrase, my life is better because you are in it. People really do need to feel important and that they make a difference, especially in this context.
Who could be more important to you on this whole planet than your spouse, your partner, your significant other? Well, there is an answer to that actually. There's only one person in my mind who is more important than your spouse. And that is you, yourself, because without you, you don't get to have relationships anyway. Second is our spouse and they need to know from you clearly, every day. that they make an important difference in your life for the better.
Make sure that they hear it. It's almost comical and it probably would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic that people get into a relationship sometimes and they think it's their job to change or reform or improve this person that they've chosen to spend their life with.
I had a couple on my couch not too long ago where she said, “Well, he's just not the man I married.” And I almost said, “Well, big surprise. You've been trying to change him for 20 years.”
Why do we do this? It's because we know that we are right. We have this destructive pride going on inside our own heart and mind that tells us that we are right. It's not just that we think we are right, we KNOW we are right.
Knowing that we are right has us treating people in terrible ways. Including the criticism and the destructive comments like, “Oh, you need to do better.”
Well, here's the thing: Most people already know that they need to do better. We beat ourselves up about that all the time. Let's not contribute to that as a spouse.
What is that second message that your spouse needs to hear every day? I'm putting it in this way: I honor your journey.
Now, you are not just going to say that every day, you could, but you don’t have to. It is the idea you want to convey to them. I honor your journey.
And their journey is not the same as yours, is it? That's what tips you over sometimes and you think that they are wrong because their journey is not exactly the same as yours.
Communicate somehow that you honor their path. Here is where we get in our way sometimes. Because we know we are right, we also know exactly how to advise or instruct other people to correct their journey. This breaks people up all the time.
I spent 13 years of my career doing child custody evaluations for the court. I saw some of the most bitter, angry, nasty divorces you could ever think of which never made total sense to me.
I mean, here are two people who loved each other so much, they got together, they created a family. Then somehow they turn completely against each other in the context of this divorce that they are going through and all the conflicts that they have to deal with.
Well, a lot of those divorces were caused by people trying to impose their journey or their view on their spouse, on their partner. Instead of honoring their path as being separate.
I'll give you some context around the third message that your spouse needs to hear from you every day. And this goes back a number of years when Vicki and I were first married and we had a neighbor couple that lived not too far from us. We used to encounter them out on the street or in the grocery store or whatever and we got to know them a little bit.
I remember one day the wife in this couple was talking to Vicki. She was kind of concerned about their marriage for a lot of reasons that became obvious from what she shared. She said, “My husband told me recently, you know I'm not really all that excited about being with you. But I really do appreciate everything you do for me.”
How does that feel? If you hear that, you feel like you are only there as a servant of some kind or to provide some kind of benefits. That doesn't help people to feel important. His message to her was, “I don't really love you. I just love what you do for me.”
Now, I set that up as a contrast perhaps to this third one and I want you to understand that the, “I love you” message I think needs a little bit of modification. So, that's the message. I love you, not I love what you do for me. I love how you look. I love how you make me look when you are with me.
Do you see how all those detract from I love you as a person as a beautiful human being on this planet. As someone whose path is unique and distinct from mine but someone with whom I choose to spend my time because my life is better because you are in it.
Message number 1, “My life is better because you are in it.”
Message number 2, “I honor your journey.”
Message number 3, “I love you.”
Now, you've got the content, here come the challenge: Apply it. Send those three messages to your spouse today and then do it again tomorrow and the next day. Let's make this thing work, shall we?
We have other resources at YouTube on our channel, Live On Purpose. Go spend some time there and let's work on saving and enriching our key relationships.