My wife, Christie, seems to have been gifted with the heart of a kindergarten teacher as well as the keen eye of a college professor. She combines these talents and gifts in her editing of the books I have written.
Currently, I am in the middle of writing Never Fight Again, Guaranteed! As she pours over the manuscript, red ink pen in hand, I nervously watch.
“Don’t worry,” she says, smiling. “You’ll get an A.”
“But you haven’t finished reading it yet,” I anxiously remark.
“Even if the first crummy draft has problems, you’ll still be able to make an A. Relax.”
“I’m relieved,” I reply.
Indeed, as she hands several chapters back to me filled with red ink, I wonder about her words. She adds a disclaimer to her former remarks.
“Remember,” she says as she notes my concern. “I said even if the first draft is rough, you’ll still be able to get an A. It will just take some work.”
I’m not afraid of doing some work, I muse. I’m anxious about writing something that the world snubs.
As I reflected on our work together, I’m reminded of the power of encouragement as well as the fear of feeling inadequate. We all have that fear—the fear of not measuring up. The fear of being compared to someone else and sensing that we will be found wanting. The fear is so great in some that they refuse to take a risk or place their skills and talents in front of the public for fear of rejection.
But what if you knew you were going to get an A even before you started? What if you were told, “Whatever you give to me will be appreciated.”
Imagine this fear of rejection and criticism at work in your relationship. You so badly want to get an A, to have your mate recognize your worth. You want to be seen in a bright light, to be appreciated for who you are as well as what you do.
You have the power to do this for your mate and for each other. Consider taking the following steps:
1. Discuss with your mate the need for an A.
It’s OK to acknowledge to each other that you want an A. You want to be encouraged and reassured that whatever you produce, you will have the opportunity to improve upon it so that the final product is fully appreciated.
2. Encourage each other to obtain the A.
Give each other feedback on how they can please you, and what it will take to obtain the A. This can apply to the mundane chores around the house to the larger projects to aspects of your personality.
3. Encourage each other in the steps toward the A.
Notice the small steps your mate takes to obtain your approval. While it may not be exactly what you want, notice his/her efforts. Make a big deal out of them.
Scripture tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) We all need encouragement and to be noticed for how hard we are trying. Encouragement gives us the ability to keep trying.
4. Offer specific feedback as to how your mate can do even better.
Christie offers me specific feedback, constructive criticism which allows me to make my manuscript the best it can be. Undergirded with encouragement and support, I receive her feedback gracefully—at least most of the time.
5. Celebrate the A.
We must pause at the key points in a project to note the progress. Progress, not perfection, is the key. Make sure you are giving each other praise and encouragement at each step of the way.
For more on this subject, please visit my website: yourrelationshipdoctor.com. Share your feedback or send a confidential note to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on www.marriagerecoverycenter.com. You’ll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.
Also, take the time to visit our new website, www.thecenterforhealing.org, which is our retreat and healing center for women.