The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. I remember learning about it in school. Basically it says that what we believe about ourselves, which is shaped by the things others believe about us and how they act toward us, ends up coming true. For example, if a student's parents and teachers expect him to fail, he will begin to expect that as well, and due to lack of effort and belief in himself he will fail. The reverse can also be true. Our own expectations can have a tremendous effect on our behavior. While I've known of this theory, I'd never thought to apply it to marriage. But that's exactly what Gary Smalley does in his book I Promise. Here are a few excerpts from Chapter 2: The Power of Honor...
"When I choose to look at the inner value of my wife, I'm simply looking at her as God looks at me. And I'm so very glad He sees me as He does. I would cringe to think that my Creator sees only my weaknesses and judges me by my stumblings and bumblings. Instead, He sees my potential, my innate worth, complete with all the godlikeness that He instilled into me originally. Honor is so simple, really. All we need to do is look at each other as God looks at us."
"You can make the choice to look beneath the surface behavior of your mate and find the value inside. You decide in your heart, on your own, that you will treasure her; that you will honor him as valuable. You will look at all the plusses instead of the minuses. And it will work. Your emotions will fall in line and validate your choice because it is our nature to place our affections, desires, and enthusiasm on whatever we treasure highly. Our feelings always follow our beliefs and thoughts." As it says in Matthew 6:21, Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
"I want to tell you a story to remind you of a point I covered earlier - the result you can expect when you give honor to your mate.
There was a Polynesian island tradition that when a man wanted a bride, he had to give in payment to her parents something that he believed to be of equal value to what she was worth. Most men would give a pig, chicken, parrot, or some similar animal. For the most beautiful of all women, a man might even be willing to give one of his prized cows.
One woman in the village who had just reached marriageable age was considered to be a little more plain and ordinary than most. Yet every girl had a few suitors, and she was no exception. One of these young men offered her parents a rabbit, another a chicken, and another a goose. One suitor came along, however, and offered the girl's father ten of his finest cows. Everyone was stunned. Such a bride price was unheard of. All the other young men walked away in disgust. No woman is worth that!
The new suitor was thought to be foolish and extravagant. But he knew what he was doing. Knowing the value her suitor had placed on her, this Polynesian plain Jane began to hold her head higher as she strolled through the villages. She, after all, was now the famous "ten-cow woman". She paid more attention to her speech, her dress, and her way of conducting herself. She became more confident and elegant. Her facial expressions became kind and gentle, her body movements graceful and elegant, her voice soft and caring. In short, she became what she believed her worth to be..."
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to encourage each other and build each other up. By honoring our spouses and those around us, we have the power to help them become the men and women they were created to be.