The Power of Affirming Words

February 2, 2009

The Power of the Tongue

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Good for Mark Twain, but I don’t know many husbands and wives who can survive on six compliments a year. Solomon, author of the ancient Hebrew wisdom literature, wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Many couples have never learned the tremendous power of verbally affirming each other. Verbal compliments are powerful communicators of love.

Encouraging Words

One way to verbally affirm your spouse is to give encouraging words. Allison always wanted to be a writer, but after receiving her first rejection slip from the publisher, she gave up. One evening her husband Keith came into the den and said, “I hate to interrupt your reading, but I have to tell you this. I just finished reading your article. Allison, you are an excellent writer. This stuff ought to be published! Your words paint pictures that I can visualize. You have got to submit this stuff to some magazines.” “Do you really think so?” Allison asked. “I know so,” Keith said. “I’m telling you, this is good.”

Ten years later, Allison has had several articles published and has her first book contract. She credits her success to Keith’s words of encouragement. Perhaps your spouse has untapped potential in one or more areas of life. That potential may be awaiting your encouraging words.

Focus on Your Spouse

There is a difference between encouraging words and nagging words. Encouraging words always focus on something your spouse wants to do, not something you want them to do. A nag is anything you tell your spouse more than three times.

“It’s Not What You Said. It’s How You Said It!”

If we are to express love by words of affirmation, those words must be kind words. Kindness has to do with the manner in which we speak. Sometimes our words are saying one thing, but our tone of voice is saying another. Our spouse will usually interpret our message based on our tone of voice, not the words we use. The same words expressed with a loud, harsh voice will not be an expression of love, but an expression of condemnation and judgment. An ancient sage once said, “a soft answer turns away anger.”


  1. I haven’t had the opportunity to read this wonderful treasure yet! But both my husband and I have been online and taken the quiz so that we could know what our love language is. I think this is an awesome way of being able to communicate with everyone close to us, and even a few people that we could make better relationships with.

  2. Oh if only I could get my husband to read this and understand how much I need him. This was great Dr. Chapman, thank you.

  3. Recently I purchased the 5LL books for Singles and Teenagers. I’m reading the Singles and gave the other book to my 13yr old who has been asking for Anger management counseling since she was 9. My first observation is that we are both bilingual – quality time and affirmation are her love languages. I consciously offer affirming words with a variety of voice inflections depending on the event. She has greater success at school on those days then when I simple say “have a good day, i love you.” When I tell her she’s probably the smartest 8th grader in the school or how she gives great advice to her friends it makes a real difference.

  4. It’s working with my teenager. She responds so much better to affirming words, especially when they are related to a specific event. We are still reading the 5LL for Singles and Teenagers books so I am sure we will have more to report as we discover each others love language. Thank you!

  5. Hello, I had no idea you had a blog. I just did a blog about your and your book this week! Check it out!Sandra Hersey

  6. This book is the book I got for my brother and his wife. I just remember reading the singles book and being moved. I hope this book moves them like your singles book moved me.

  7. I do wish there were more people like you around on the interwebs. Not many people are careful with their words, including myself sometimes. I have written things I would love to take back, good work—keep it up.

  8. What are some specific words, phrases I can say, use to my wife. Her love language is words of affirmation.

  9. Pingback: How to give love... - Self Help Junkie Blog

  10. Pingback: Recommended book on marriage and communication 5 love languages | Marriage is Work

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