Word Pictures


A graphic "word picture" is a more effective way to get your mate’s attention than a torrent of hostile words.

“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.’” Matthew 22:1–2

An extremely useful communication technique is the word picture, described by Gary Smalley and John Trent in their book, The Language of Love. In one of their examples, a high school teacher and football coach named Jim came home each evening too tired to even talk to his wife, Susan, leaving her frustrated and angry. Finally, Susan told Jim a story about a man who went to breakfast with his fellow coaches. The man ate his favorite omelet, then gathered up some crumbs and put them in a bag. Then he went to lunch with more friends and ate a turkey tenderloin pie and a huge salad. Again, he put a few crumbs in a doggie bag to take with him. When he came home that night, he handed his wife and their two boys the little bags of leftovers.

“That’s the way I feel when you come home with nothing left to give,” Susan said. “All we get are leftovers. I’m waiting to enjoy a meal with you, hoping for time to talk and laugh and get to know you, longing to communicate with you the way you do every day with the guys. But all we get are doggie bags. Honey, don’t you see? We don’t need leftovers. We need you.”

Susan’s word picture brought tears to Jim’s eyes and led to positive changes in their marriage. You, too, may find that a graphic word picture is more effective at getting your mate’s attention than a torrent of hostile words.

Just between us . . .

• Why are word pictures often effective?

• Jesus often used word pictures to make a point (e.g., “I am the Good Shepherd”). What word picture describes your feelings about us?

Lord, teach us to share our inner selves with our spouse. Remind us of the great value of this intimate exchange between married lovers. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson

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