#080: 5 Reasons to Speak Well of Your Spouse in Public [Podcast]

As a leader, the health of your marriage directly affects the impact of your leadership. I have witnessed this time after time. Being effective at work or in ministry begins by being effective at home.

5 Reasons to Speak Well of Your Spouse in Public

image courtesy of shutterstock.com/Tatiana Katsai

Praising your spouse in public is one of the most important investments you can make—in your family and in your leadership. In this episode, I share five reasons why it positively impacts your effectiveness.

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  1. You get more of what you affirm.
  2. Affirmation shifts your attitude toward your spouse.
  3. Affirmation helps strengthen your spouse’s best qualities.
  4. Affirmation wards off the temptation of adultery.
  5. Affirmation provides a model to those you lead.

To be a truly effective leader, you must lead yourself, and then you must lead your family. Your marriage is a powerful visual of how you treat the people you value the most.

When you speak highly of your spouse, your followers are more likely to trust you. It takes your leadership to another level.

Listener Questions

  1. Erica wrote, “My husband and I are struggling. I think we need professional help, but this has such a negative connotation to him—like we are admitting defeat. How can I convince my husband to go with me to a marriage therapist?”
  2. John asked, “I am afraid my wife and I are locked into this vicious cycle where we make fun of one another in public. To outsiders, it probably seems harmless, but, honestly, it embarrasses me and make me resentful. How can we stop this cycle and get back on track?”
  3. Patricia asked, “My husband and I have been guilty of bashing one another in public. We had an honest talk about it and committed ourselves to change. That was several months ago. Now he has slipped back into the old patterns, and it hurts now more than ever. He says I am just being ‘too sensitive.’ How can I convince him to get back on the wagon without me looking needy and weak?”
  4. Megan said, “I have seen so many girlfriends complain about their husbands as a way to connect with each other. I don’t believe it is healthy. What should I do when it happens and I am present? I always feel awkward but am not sure what to say.”

Tip of the Week

To really put this episode into practice, try this:

  • Ask your spouse to listen to this episode and then schedule some time to discuss it.
  • Decide together you are going to speak well of one another, in public—and in private.
  • Don’t try to stop a bad habit. That rarely works. Rather, cultivate a good habit like noticing something good about your spouse. Maybe it’s the way they look, something they have said, or something they have done.
  • Acknowledge them. Praise them. Thank them. If you don’t know what else to do, start by being grateful—and expressing it.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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  • http://www.aterriblehusband.com/about/ ATerribleHusband

    What an important message! I’ve been known as the “sarcastic one” my entire life. I’ve rarely missed an opportunity to insert a little sarcasm into a conversation. Even when speaking of my wife. I never thought how even sarcasm, an eye roll, or a poorly-times or unintentionally insensitive joke could affect her – and me. Focusing on cutting it out when speaking about my wife in private and public has carried over to several areas of our relationship!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Excellent. Thanks for sharing honestly.

  • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

    Powerful Michael.

    Our slogan is “what happens in the home stays in the home.”

    That means we can have a knock down, drag out fight at home, but no one else needs to know about it. And we never say negative things about each other in public. At this point, the thought to do so never crosses my mind, but for the first few years, there were times I wanted to confide in someone. I’m glad I never did.

    The one exception is, of course, when we meet with our marriage counselor.

  • elisa freschi

    (the link to the transcript leads to the 79th episode’s transcript)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Elisa. It should be fixed now. (You might have to refresh your browser.)

  • Nick

    My pastor and mentor always exhorted me to speak well of my wife and he lives the example of what he speaks. He’s in his sixties and opens the vehicle door for her, is conscious of situations that might put her safety in jeopardy, and has always praised her even from the pulpit. I’ve struggled doing this because my back ground is from a family where no praise was ever given. Thankfully, that has changed. It’s funny, as I’ve praised my wife, she has become more and more like the woman described in Proverbs 31 and I cannot thank God enough for giving her to me. “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels,” (Prov 31:10). I have found her and she has brought worth to my life that cannot be quantified.

  • http://leadgenmonitor.com/ Brent Applegate

    Wise counsel. I recall once attending a conference by a well-known Christian leader. At the start, he tried to poke fun at his wife, who was sitting in the audience. She got up and walked out of the auditorium. I don’t remember much of what he said but I sure do remember that terrible moment!

    • http://www.waynestiles.com/ Wayne Stiles

      Brent, I’ve seen the same thing occur, and it really causes the speaker or leader to lose credibility. Funny that you remember nothing else about that talk. How ironic; no doubt, the speaker gave a lesson he never intended. :-)

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        So true, Wayne. As leaders, we are always teaching. Usually, our lives speak louder than our words.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Talk about awkward! Wow.

    • Jim Martin

      Wow. I’ve seen a few speakers do that before and it is never impressive. Usually, it is a cheap attempt to get a laugh. Not impressive.

  • http://www.learndifferently.com/ Kathy Kuhl

    I read your subject line aloud to my husband and said, “I could write a podcast on this.”
    “#1. He deserves it,” he immediately replied, grinning. “That’s enough reason.”
    I have to agree–not only because I married a great guy–but out of my marriage vows to him.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Kathy.

  • http://www.lawrencewilson.com/p/about-me.html Lawrence W. Wilson

    All so true. I might add that not speaking well of your spouse creates tension with everyone else. When there are issues between you, needling them in front of others only makes matters worse for everyone. Great podcast, Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      This is a really great point, Lawrence. I wish I had thought of it!

  • http://www.waynestiles.com/ Wayne Stiles

    I’ll never forget hearing Dr. Howard Hendricks say: “You marriage will make or mar your ministry.” Wonderful counsel I’m glad to hear again from you today, Michael. I have found that affirmation in marriage is something the Bible repeats as essential. Thanks again.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      What a great quote by Dr. Hendricks!

  • http://davidcooperaccounting.com/ David Cooper

    I have used the strategies you talk about in this excellent podcast and is instrumental in my successful for now 29 years of marriage. It has really been important for wife too. She is a cop. The divorce and affair rate in this profession unfortunately is large. She always speaks highly of me and that shuts off any problems for her. She is a Sergeant and is counseling others to do the same. She is starting to see positive results but it can be tough. The added stress of a bad marriage and secrecy of affairs make a stressful job even worse, often with devastating results. We both will be referring people to this podcast. Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for being light in a dark world!

    • Jim Martin

      David thanks for sharing this about your wife. This is so encouraging to hear.

      • http://davidcooperaccounting.com/ David Cooper

        Thank you Jim and Michael.

  • The Happy Couple

    I learned this technique early in life by not speaking ill of my ex in front of anyone,
    especially my children. I felt it was difficult enough that their father left
    and made excuses constantly for not seeing them. I knew eventually they would
    come to their own conclusions about him. Now at ages 20 and 19 they have, but
    they never had to feel like they couldn’t talk to me about it. This habit
    easily carried over to my current husband of 15 years. We never talk bad about
    each other in public or to each other. Honestly, sometimes I have to hold back
    my good comments in front of friends who use every excuse to complain about
    their husbands. It works great for us.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      You make a great point! How we speak about ex-spouses is equally as damaging to our children, the working relationship needed to co-parent, and our own personal integrity.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        I have noticed this with one of my daughters who is married to a divorced man. They are very careful not to make disparaging remarks of her, even though she often does of them.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    This was a great episode, the topic is very necessary. I really appreciated the honesty in the questions that came in, I know that’s not easy. I will definitely be using the tip of the week with my wife :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kimanzi. Just curious: do you like the format of me playing voice mail messages from listeners or reading them better.

      • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

        I personally like hearing their voices, adds a little something to it? Can’t really explain it but I like hearing questions in their voice.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Okay. Good feed back. Thanks.

  • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jon D Harrison

    Love & Respect is an amazing resource – by wife and I went through a Couples Study on DVD – transformational!

    • http://tonychung.ca/ Tony Chung

      it took me a few sessions to buy into Emmerson Eggerich’s style. I may go again. But the same year i went to L&R I also did Mark Gungor’s Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage — Live — and that was far more enlightening.

      Part of me wants to go to Family Life Today’s Weekend to Remember just to get that weekend away. ;-)

      • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jon D Harrison

        I think that weekend away is a fantastic idea.

  • http://www.kenzimmermanjr.com/ Ken Zimmerman Jr.

    Michael, I really like the posts and podcasts that you do on marriage and family. If the home is not right, it effects everything else. Since I have been on social media in the last year, I have been able to praise my wife and kids on Facebook, which has made a positive impact on our relationship. I have been kicking myself for not getting on these platforms sooner. One warning though. I almost corrected my daughter on Facebook but caught myself. She has 500 Facebook friends. It would have been like gathering all the neighborhood and correcting her in front of them. My wife really appreciates the praise on Facebook, so give it a try guys and girls.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Whew! Close call. :) Love your perspective and reminder.

  • Dave Patchin

    So important, so simple, so fundamental to effective leadership and healthy marriage. I’ve done this for 27 years and never once regretted it, nor missed anything important.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Great job Dave! It’s so simple people can often overlook the value in speaking well of their spouse.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    First of all … Episode 80?!?!?! Holy smokes. You’re killing it. Way to go!

    My favorite quote on this podcast: “Healthy people get help. Unhealthy people don’t, and get worse.” Marriage is always, always a work in progress. But choosing how we speak determines how we feel. And feelings often determine what we do. Just this morning I read Prov. 15:4: “The soothing tongue is a tree of life.” True!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Michele. Eighty is crazy!

  • http://tonychung.ca/ Tony Chung

    My wife and I always speaks highly of each whether we are together or on our own. I realized how well it made me feel to know she did that, and I wanted to reciprocate. The blessings and benefits are HUGE.

    • Jim Martin

      You are so right. It sounds like this has become one of the regular practices/habits of your marriage. Wonderful.

  • TesTeq

    5 reasons? :shock:

    I don’t need 5!

    I’ve got the best wife in the world.

    Period.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Sounds like you’re speaking well of your wife there (-;

  • Suzanne De Cornelia

    I always listen to language, choice of words and cut out unaffirmative people. They are highly destructive and feel good about themselves by tearing down others. When my husband died I was young and dated many doctors, lawyers, and business owners, more often that not, once. I listened to their words. Snarky is not clever it’s just unconscious and mean.

    As a mother I made it an ultimate rule to be affirmative, to listen, to get down on a knee to look my toddler in the eye and let him speak without interruption. He grew into a very kind man…nothing is better for the person or more needed for the planet than affirmation and kindness.

    • Jim Martin

      Suzanne, I love what you say regarding snarky talk. You are right. It is often mean and thoughtless. Far too man spouses have hurt one another under the guise of “just joking.”

  • http://portofpeacecounseling.com/ Marie Mertilus

    Great topic.What we say to our spouses can build them or tear them down. I agree with you. The health of your marriage really affects your marriage.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      It’s a very important principle to latch onto Marie. Sounds like you understand it!

  • Sharon Spano

    Thanks, Michael, for this great reminder. This is particularly important when both parties have a quick wit. I know my husband and I have the tendency to tease one another. In some ways, it’s a method used to release tension. But, it’s important to watch that the tendency to exercise wit doesn’t cross over into passive-aggressive communication. As always, great message!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Sharon. I think you put your finger on it. You don’t want to kill the humor; you just want to make sure it doesn’t become something else.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    This is a fantastic list of ideas. Am I right that you are saying this is in the presence of your spouse as well as outside?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, both.

  • J. Holland

    Many thanks indeed for this message Michael. Listened to it first via the podcast last night, and have sat down with my fiancee this morning to listen through & discuss it together. Getting married in Aug 2014, its easy at the moment to get bogged down in the ‘logistics’ of planning our Wedding day- the catering, entertainment, venues, stationary… and forget the ‘life after Wedding day’. We particularly found the thoughts on marriage being an upward spiral in terms of better communication and closeness as a couple, rather than a downward spiral as issues, problems and kids come along and the closeness starts to drift. Also the thoughts on praising your spouses as a way of ‘warding’ off opportunities for affairs was really interesting and I can see being vital as we travel down the road of marriage together. Look forward to more of these types of podcast as your insight and practical approach is appreciated! Good one!
    James, (27), South Wales, UK.

  • Jim Martin

    Michael, this is a great message! This is one that I will be sharing with a lot of people. This is very true and helpful.

  • http://leadbychoice.wordpress.com/ Kimunya Mugo

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! Can’t say enough how important your message is Michael. I couldn’t wait to share it forward with my community. You bring such an air of hope, a breath of freshness. Thank you for all you do, you have definitely left a huge dent in my life, including writing my first book. Blessings…