Years ago, when Meredith, one of my goddaughters, was just four years old, I playfully asked her if she was “cute” or if she was “ugly.” She proudly told me that she was cute. I then asked her if she was “cute” or if she was “very cute.” Even more emphatically she told me that she was “very cute.” And then I asked her how she knew that she was very cute. Looking at me as though I had just asked the stupidest question she’d ever heard, she said, “my momma told me!”
The one aspect of relationships that we often overlook is this: the words we offer to each other are some of the most precious gifts we can give. Over time we become the words we receive and give.
Remember when you and your partner first started dating—how awkward it was in those early weeks when you weren’t sure how to introduce him or her? “This is my___?” To have said, “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” after just a month or two of dating would have seemed a bit too much. Do you recall, though, the first time you referred to him as your “boyfriend” or you referred to her as your “girlfriend?” Didn’t something happen in the way you saw each other? And again, when you were able to introduce each other as “fiancé?”
SANITY SAVER activity:
I’d like you and your partner to take a few minutes, apart from each other, and jot down a list of all the words that describe who you are individually (not who the other person is): physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Don’t censure yourself. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the exceptional. Time yourself for just ninety seconds.
When you’re done, look over the list and consider:
· How do these words make you feel?
· How do you know that these words are accurate?
· How deep down fair are your words?
· Are there words you didn’t put down? Why?
Now I’d like you and your partner to swap lists and review. What is your reaction as you read over your partner’s words? What surprised you? Is there any word on your partner’s list you think should not be there? Any word that should be there and they haven’t written it down? How many of these words do you say to or about each other? Do your words build each other up or tear each other down?
Never say anything about yourself you do not want to come true.