From the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman
Several years ago, I was sitting in my office with my door open. A lady walking down the hall said, “Have you got a minute?”
“Sure, come in.”.
She sat down and said, “Dr. Chapman, I’ve got a problem. I can’t get my husband to paint our bedroom. I have been after him for nine months. I have tried everything I know, and I can’t get him to paint it.”
My first thought was, Lady, you are at the wrong place. I am not a paint contractor. But I said, “Tell me about it.”
She said, “Well, last Saturday was a good example. You remember how pretty it was? Do you know what my husband did all day long? He washed and waxed the car.”
“So what did you do?”
“I went out there and said, ‘Bob, I don’t understand you. Today would have been a perfect day to paint the bedroom, and here you are washing and waxing the car.'”
“So did he paint the bedroom?” I inquired.
“No. It’s still not painted. I don’t know what to do.”
“Let me ask you a question,” I said. “Are you opposed to clean, waxed cars?”
“No, but I want the bedroom painted.”
“Are you certain that your husband knows that you want the bedroom painted?”
“I know he does, ” she said. “I have been after him for nine months.”
“Let me ask you one more question. Does your husband ever do anything good?”
“Oh, like taking the garbage out, or getting bugs off the windshield of the car you drive, or putting gas in the car, or paying the electric bill, or hanging up his coat?”
“Yes,” she said, “he does some of those things.”
“Then I have two suggestions. One, don’t ever mention painting the bedroom again.” I repeated, “Don’t ever mention it again.”
“I don’t see how that’s going to help,” she said.
“Look, you just told me that he knows that you want the bedroom painted. You don’t have to tell him anymore. He already knows. The second suggestion I have is that the next time your husband does anything good, give him a verbal compliment. If he takes the garbage out, say, ‘Bob, I want you to know that I really appreciate your taking the garbage out.’ Don’t say, ‘About time you took the garbage out. The flies were going to carry it out for you.’ If you see him paying the electric bill, put your hand on his shoulder and say, ‘Bob, I really appreciate your paying the electric bill. I hear there are husbands who don’t do that, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.’ Every time he does anything good, give him a verbal compliment.”
“I don’t see how that’s going to get the bedroom painted.”
I said, “You asked for my advice. You have it. It’s free.”
She wasn’t very happy with me when she left.
Three weeks later, however, she came back and said, “It worked!”
She had learned that verbal compliments are far greater motivators than nagging words.