• Kara Abernathy

Pat Your Spouse on the Back

& Other Ideas for Encouragement


As a newlywed, I’ve learned that the first person I criticize is my husband. He’s also the first person I lose my temper with or complain to. I’m not proud that he sees the worst side of me. Often, our closest relationships suffer the most from negativity. Since I feel a sense of assurance knowing that Josh will love me in spite of my flaws, I seem to lose my patience and self-control with him more than anyone else.


It's not great. It's an area of my heart that needs improvement.


Instead, I want a marriage full of encouragement. This takes daily effort. I’ve noticed that Josh will remember one negative criticism over five of my compliments. It hurts him deeper than if I were to criticize someone else because he needs my respect.


During the crazy holiday season, I’m trying to pause and remember how patient I was during our dating days. I want to encourage Josh even when the chores of daily life leave me stressed after teaching all day. I want my heart to radiate gratitude for Josh instead of sharpness.


Here are five ways to pat your husband on the back:


1. Pray for him.


The power of prayer is real. Offering requests before the Lord on behalf of your husband is the greatest way to love him. God’s ability to work in Josh’s life is much more effective than mine. Praying for my husband is the quickest way for me to remember how thankful I am for him. It puts me in the right mindset to come to Josh graciously instead of with temper or irritation.


2. Send him a text with an encouraging verse


May I suggest a verse? Whatever he is facing, remind him that God has already conquered it.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:37-39).

3. Leave him a note on the bathroom mirror or in his bag for work

I still remember the time when Josh left me a note in my lunchbox I take to work every day. When I opened my lunch, it was a short and sweet reminder of how much he loves me. I kept it in my desk and still have it there. When Josh and I were engaged, I left him a card in his work bag. About a month ago, I noticed that he still had it in there. Handwritten notes are simple but loving.


4. Speak highly of him to his friends

It matters what we say about our spouse in public. Speaking with respect and honor builds Josh’s confidence and affirms positive character traits. This spurs him on even more to what God has in store for him because he hears me acknowledge his efforts and confirm that I will be at his side supporting him. For more on this important topic, see Michael Hyatt’s blog post. I highly recommend it!


5. Compliment him on something specific and tell him a reason why you love him

Specificity is the key here. Saying “I love you” warms the heart, but saying “I love you because you _____” is even better. Compliment his haircut. Tell him how much you notice his efforts to help around the house. Remind him that you see him.


I aspire to be a wife who is more positive than negative. This is a constant battle in my heart. Praying for an affirming marriage helps me in this endeavor. I don’t want Josh to be the first person to receive my criticism. I want him to be the first person to receive my appreciation.


Have a helpful way to encourage a loved one? I'd love to hear it!

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© 2019 Kara Abernathy

Disclaimer: my thoughts do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of my employer.