The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
—Genesis 2:23

What does it take to build a strong marriage? A successful marriage requires sincere praise.

A couple was driving in the country, and they passed a field where pigs were wallowing in the mud. The husband snarled to the wife, “Relatives of yours?” She said, “Yep. My in-laws.” Now, we shouldn’t be like that. But there are a lot of couples who are always picking at each other, tearing each other down.

The apostle Paul has a different word for us. In Ephesians 4:29 he says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” The Bible says no word that comes from our mouth, especially to our mate, should be unwholesome. By the way, “unwholesome” doesn’t mean filthy or off-color–although we should avoid that kind of speech as well. In this verse, “unwholesome” means words that tear down the other person. Instead of tearing people down with critical words, our words ought to build up the other person.

A successful marriage is one that involves sincere praise. We see that in the story of Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:22 says, “The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” That word “fashioned” in Hebrew means, “He built Adam a woman.” Men, have you ever looked at a woman and said, “She’s really built?” You didn’t know you were being biblical when you’re doing that, but that’s a Hebrew word. God built a woman and brought her to the man. And notice how Adam responded: “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’” (v. 23). That is such a mundane, tame translation. In the Hebrew this is an exclamation. Adam was excited! Think about this–Adam had been hanging out with four-footed, hairy creatures, and then God sculpted a beautiful, naked female and brought her to Adam. Adam exclaimed with words of sincere praise for his wife.

Husbands and wives, we ought to follow that pattern. We need to build up our mate with words of praise. I encourage you to write down three things you appreciate most about your mate. Once you have this list, take time to share with your mate those three things you appreciate about him or her. And during your prayer time, thank God for these three things you appreciate about your mate. This exercise will change your attitude about your mate and strengthen your marriage as you engage in sincere praise.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Marriage: Vacate or Renovate?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.