Home Improvement Project


Post written by marriage columnist Susanne Alexander of Marriage Transformation.

Picture the words coming out of your mouth and sticking on a nearby wall.
How do they sound in-transit?
What do they look like once they are stuck there?
Most of us need to pause once in a while and dip the paintbrush of life into a can of gentleness and kindness and spread them over our choice of words, tone of voice, and attitude.
How easy it is when we live with someone for us to get snarky, grumpy, complainingy, whiny…or ungrateful, ornery, and critical. At least sometimes. THEY really should shape up and do better!
The truth is, marriage requires a large application of empathy, compassion, and acceptance. We can encourage each other with affirming and influencing words to make new or different choices. But the more negative and condemning our words are, the less likely our spouse is to want to change. Or to make changes that are color-bright and work long-term. If he or she slaps on a coat of shiny green in resentment and anger, we might like the color for a brief while, but it will be hard to live with over time.
And, have you ever tried to take down words said in haste or negativity? Sometimes a scraper, sandpaper, or dynamite don’t remove their substance or the resulting hurt. Sometimes attempts to fix the problem just leave a big hole in the wall.
Ever notice that you usually have a little voice inside your head (or heart) that says, “Don’t open your mouth and say anything”. You might hear your mother’s voice alongside it saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” And still, out the words come. Maybe it will help if you picture the words floating around in the paint can in a swirl of love. By the time you stir them up and pick up your paintbrush, maybe then they’ll come out as kind and caring words instead of harsh ones.
One of the best ways to increase the loving feelings in your spouse’s heart is to catch them doing something good and let them know how much you appreciate it. When you can be specific, the affirmation works even better. When you also put in positive words about their character, your marriage just might look like a successful remodeling project (I call this using “Character Quality Language”).

  • “Honey, you did such an excellent job of hanging the new door. I really appreciate that we now have privacy when we need it.”
  • “It was very thoughtful and caring of you to drop lunch off at the office for me. I needed to eat well before my meeting, and just forgot it sitting on the counter.”
  • “You really rock! It is helping the whole vacation go better because you persevered through getting all these great deals.”
  • “I noticed how gentle you were with our son when he made a mistake yesterday. Thank you.”

Talking this way may feel a bit awkward at first…like when you move a piece of furniture to a new location and keep going to sit in the old place. But your home remodeling project will work if you roll on the paint smoothly. And, the walls will be a color you can easily live with instead.

(photo source)