Words of Affirmation

Written by Beth Scholes

We all feel loved in different ways. This study focuses on the love language called words of affirmation. Whether expressed vocally, in a letter, or through someone else, words mean a lot. In this study you will learn how to encourage the special person in your life through words of affirmation, based on principles from Gary Chapman’s popular book The Five Love Languages.

“Words will never hurt me!” What a lie that is! Although we all grew up with this little statement on the playground, the opposite is true too, that words can build a meaningful basis of love for some people. Words are important to everyone, yet for some people they are more than important- they are essential for emotional health and wellness. This study will look at why words are so important, different ways to use words to change situations and the difference between flattery and genuine words of encouragement. Do your words build up or tear down? Words reflect the heart, so what is your heart saying to your partner or spouse? Join us for this study and let’s learn the truth about words and how they can express love.

Next in the Series: Quality Time

1. Think of a time that someone gave you a compliment that meant a lot to you. How did that make you feel? Please explain your answer. More thoughts...
Compliments make us feel good the world over. We all like to hear something nice about ourselves, our kids, or something personal. However, for some people it goes beyond just appreciating the compliment and works towards filling the emotional love tank. If a compliment makes you feel loved and appreciated, then this may be your love language. Or perhaps it is your spouse's language. If so, you have the ability to deposit into their love tank and this can make a big difference in your marriage.
2. Do you and your spouse verbally encourage each other? Give some examples. What does encouragement really mean? More thoughts...
Encouragement defined - To mentally support; to motivate, give courage, hope or spirit; to spur on, strongly recommend. If you, or your spouse, start something new, stand together and encourage one another, be each other's champion. It may sound something like this, “If you decide to do that, I know you will be great at it.” If it's important to him/her, it should be important to you as well. Encouragement includes empathy, which is seeing things from the other person’s perspective. With verbal encouragement you are communicating “I know. I care. I am with you. How can I help?” This shows belief in your spouse's abilities by giving praise and credit.
3. What are different ways of communicating words of affirmation? Give examples from experience as well as brainstorm new ideas. More thoughts...
There are many ways to use words to deposit in your spouse's emotional love tank. Kindness encompasses both a warm tone and words of affirmation. The words can mean something entirely different based on the tone and context of the words spoken. Your spouse will interpret the message through tone as well as words. Writing words of affirmation is another way to meet the emotional needs of your spouse. Write a note, buy a card, or send an email. These seemingly little things go a long way. Be creative in your use of words.
4. How do you treat your spouse verbally in front of others? Would your spouse answer the same way you just did? More thoughts...
How you speak about your spouse is extremely important, whether or not they are present. Spoken words have great impact whether they are positive or negative. Affirming your spouse in front of others is another way to deposit love units in your spouse’s love tank. When you speak well of your spouse and they are not present, word gets back to them and can mean so much. It also builds intimacy because your words impact your attitude. The Bible is a great source of wisdom on every topic of life. Here is a verse about the impact of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21 "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Be the person who speaks life into your spouse not death. This starts with a simple decision and can bring great healing to your marriage.
5. What is the difference between words of affirmation and verbal flattery? More thoughts...
Flattery is defined as: excessive or insincere praise. No one wants flattery; insincere words are meaningless and may do more harm than good. Here is more wisdom from the Bible. Proverbs 12:18 "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Flattery counts as reckless words, no one benefits from insincerity and your partner will see right through that, so choose something you mean, even if you have to keep it simple to start with.
6. Do your words sound like a demand or a request? What is the difference? Is it really a big deal? More thoughts...
A demand is defined by Websters as: something claimed as due. Request is defined as something asked for. A demand elevates the speaker at the cost of belittling the spouse; this robs intimacy from the relationship, and drives the spouse away. Knowing what the other person wants is very important and expressing a desire appropriately is good. A request affirms the other person and their strengths. Here is an example: “I love that apple pie you make, you are so great at that, would it be possible to make one of those this week, I would love that?” vs. “We haven’t had any apple pie lately, I want one on Friday!” Making a demand is the act of tyrant. A request provides the element of choice to the other person, which honors him/her as an individual thereby promoting intimacy and love in the relationship. Use words carefully to build each other up, the reward will be great!
7. Can you think of a plan to make words of affirmation part of your regular pattern of loving your spouse? What would be a good starting point? More thoughts...
Start by making a list of things you appreciate about your spouse. To start with this list will be for you only. Start by expressing your appreciation for the things on your list once a week, but make sure to leave out the BUTS for now. Do not complain about the things that you do not like. Add to the list as you think of more things. Finally, do not offer a compliment at the same time as they offer you a compliment; just receive their compliment by saying something like, “thank you for saying that”. Try this every week for two months and see what happens. Another quote from the Bible: Proverbs 16:24 "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bone."
8. What can you do to affirm your spouse that will be meaningful specifically to him/her? More thoughts...
Here are some ideas; 1.) write a love letter or a paragraph to your spouse (when was the last time you did that, when it was not a birthday card etc?) Give it quietly without fanfare. It is amazing how much this simple act can mean. 2.) Look for strengths in your spouse and compliment those areas. 3.) Tell your kids how great their parent is. Practice all of the ideas in this study. It may feel awkward at first, but will become natural with practice and will make a big difference if this is your spouse's love language. The Bible once again captures the heart of what you want to do for your spouse. Proverbs 23:16 "my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right."
9. Do you have any additional thoughts or comments on this study? Please feel free to ask any question you may have.
10. Do you have any prayer requests? Prayer is a great source of help from a loving caring God and His son Jesus. We’d be happy to pray with you and for you. More thoughts...
Millions of people around the world turn to prayer and the Bible as a source of help when dealing with difficult situations. Both offer comfort and the realization that you are not alone in this - there is hope and help. Remember, God is the ultimate source of help and He loves you just as you are. Philipians4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
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