The Importance of Compliments in Your Marriage

Updated 05/14/19
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Nobody gets married thinking it'll end. Still, the divorce rate continues to hover in the 50 percent zone. The long-term success of a marriage is partly dependent on how both parties show gratitude for each other. One way you can show your spouse how grateful you are for them is by complimenting them.

A compliment focuses on the positive you see in someone. The good news is, compliments are simple and cost nothing. Make sure you sincerely compliment your spouse at least once every day.

Look for things you can comment on you haven't mentioned before. 

Impact of Compliments on Your Marriage

When you give sincere encouragement and compliments to your spouse, several things happen. Your spouse's self-confidence increases, as well as your own self-worth. The friendship between the two of you is strengthened and you create a nice moment for the two of you to share. While you give your spouse a compliment, you demonstrate your appreciation and make them feel cherished and valued. You also focus on the positive instead of the negative, and what marriage doesn't need that?

The Difference Between Flattery and Compliments

It is important that your compliments are sincere and honest. When they are not, your comments turn into flattery, which is untrue or insincere praise. Flattery is usually received with negativity and is often perceived as being manipulative. In other words, flattery is often just used to get something you want from the person you are flattering. It is about you, not them. A true compliment is said with the core purpose to make someone else feel good. 

Keep a Positive Ratio

One of the biggest impacts of compliments is that it reinforces behavior. So, if there is something you compliment, it is likely to get your spouse to do it more. Respected marriage researcher, Dr. John Gottman, asserts that in good marriages, compliments (and good interactions in general) need to outnumber criticisms by at least five to one. If you are low on your quotient, luckily it's an easy fix.

Tips for Complimenting Your Spouse

  • Use "I" instead of "you." For instance, say, "I appreciate that you cleaned the house" instead of "You did a good job cleaning the house."
  • Use congruent body language when you compliment. You should be smiling, using eye contact and the words should be said in a warm and sincere manner.
  • Be on the specific side. For example, it's better to say "That color brings out your beautiful eyes" rather than "You look beautiful."
  • Compliment your spouse's character as well. Comment on his or her sweetness, intelligence, kindness, and big heart. 
  • If you are the recipient of a compliment, take it in graciously. Don't be self-deprecating or deny your partner's perspective on something positive or good. 
  • Don't have a hidden agenda or disguise your compliment in a criticism. Your compliments must be direct and sincere. Don't say, "I'm glad you are finally on time." Say, "I love that you arrived so promptly." 

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