I thrive on words of encouragement. It’s my top score on the 5 Love Languages test. And wouldn’t you know it? My husband scores the lowest in this category. Help. 

Every time I get dressed up for a date, I make the same mistake of asking my husband “how do I look?” My desired response is for him to take one look at me and have his jaw drop to the floor in awe like he did that first time we went to the opera. But here’s his typical response: “You look cute.” 

This. Does. Not. Do. It. For. Me.

Now, change the scene and imagine I run into one of my mom friends and she tells me how “cute” I look. I’m over the moon. I feel seen. I feel beautiful. I feel loved. But when my poor non-wordsy husband tells me how “cute” I look, I feel defeated and frustrated because it makes me feel like a 11-year-old little girl in her “awkward stage”. Ladies, you know what I’m talkin’ about. 

I’ve tried to drop hints of other adjectives my hubby could choose from when I inevitably ask this question. “Beautiful”, “breathe-taking”, “stunning” and “fashionable” have been some of my suggestions. But the poor man is still doomed to disappoint me. Why? Because it’s about as unnatural for him to give a compliment as it is for a bird to give birth to a fish. It’s just not in his DNA. When he attempts to use one of my “descriptors of beauty”, it feels forced and inauthentic. So we end up back at square one where I feel like an awkward 11-year-old girl.

The fact of the matter is: I’m longing for something from him that he just can’t give me in the way I want to receive it.

And it’s taken me a lot time, *therapy* and intentionality in friendships with other women to unravel this dilemma. And my conclusion is this: I can’t depend on my husband for compliments. It’s just not his gift. But my girlfriends? They are EXCELLENT compliment givers. Their words of encouragement come at just the right time in just the right way, so I can let my husband off the hook

Now, hear me clearly. This doesn’t mean my husband shouldn’t put in the effort of learning to give me a compliment. My point is that, if and when he does, it will be a pleasant surprise, not a looming expectation I hold over him. This is a win/win for both of us because it’s setting us up for success not disappointment.

So, if you happen to be in a similar situation with a spouse or loved one, remember there are many people who love you. And if your spouse doesn’t speak your love language fluently yet, you likely have a friend who meets that need all the time without you even realizing it. By REFRAMING our spouse’s role in filing our love tank, we widen our focus from a narrowly zoomed in look at where we think they’re “getting it wrong” to a zoomed out look that brings the strengths and giftings of others into the picture and offers us better perspective

Where do you need to REFRAME in the love and expectation department?

As you consider that, remember this. You are loved. Exactly as you are. By the God who knitted you together. People get things wrong. But God’s love is perfect.

A prayer to help you #REFRAMEYOURDAY

And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself.”

Ephesians 3:17-19 (TLB)

Andrea M. Nyberg

WIFE · MOM · WRITER · SPEAKER · based in San Jose, CA.

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