OK, let me just get one housekeeping note out of the way.
If I were screwing around on my newsfeed and saw this post, I'd be skeptical. I'd be like, all right Marriage Moses, since when did you come off the mountaintop with two tablets and the solution to a thriving marriage?
But I do speak in absolutes. I pretty much always have. (Dang it.) Is what I'm about to write the difference between a functional and a thriving marriage? No idea. But it sure as heck feels like it sometimes. And maybe it is. And now that weird aside is out of the way, I am wondering if the tangible difference between a functional marriage and a thriving marriage can be found in how the spouses talk about each other, to each other.
It's like this: Kasey and I have been writing back and forth about how we want to treat each other. It's a basic, kindergarten-esque question. And as I thought about it, I realize that as I visualize my day and try to think about who I'm going to bless, my mind drifts to who I'm going to text to encourage and affirm. I don't always feel good at it, but when I'm not praising people and things, I feel something less than myself. In some strange way-- wider than traditional worship-- I feel I was made to praise.
And though I almost said traditional prayer, I think I need an edgy writer moment to acknowledge that I shouldn't. (Cue edgy writer music) Prayer must be more than than thoughts I think about my life, addressed to God. I think praising other people is a form of prayer. When we praise each other, we are only acknowledging the "very goodness" of people. It's as if God once said "very good" and we can't help sending that song back upward. (End edgy writer music)
And I wonder if a key watermark of a thriving marriage is two people that speak affectionately about each other, to each other. Again, it might not be the only difference between good marriages and not-so-good ones. But it's also hard to imagine two people who genuinely and intentionally praise each other having a crappy, dysfunctional marriage.
So we're trying something out. (All of this family culture making stuff, by the way, is just throwing crap at the wall and seeing what looks good.) We are trying not to go to bed until we have said three affirming things about each other, to each other. We are trying to act as if thriving marriages-- friendships, too, honestly-- are based upon learned and lovely ways of speaking to each other, about each other.