The Light and Dark Side of the Force

One major theme runs throughout the Star Wars story line. It’s that there is a struggle between the light side of the force and a dark side of the force.

The same is true in marriage. I’m not saying that spouses should solve their conflicts with light sabers (although that would be cool,) I’m saying these forces are just as powerful as the light sabers.

What are these two marital forces?

They are encouragement and discouragement. Encouragement and discouragement are like the light and dark sides of the force. They are as powerful as light sabers, and can turn your marriage for better or worse.

It’s easier to think about encouragement and discouragement when it comes to raising our kids, but encouragement and discouragement are just as important to our partnering as they are to our parenting.

The problem is, we don’t pay much attention to these two forces. We don’t put a lot of thought or attention into whether our words and actions are encouraging or discouraging. Consequently, we don’t realize which side of the force were using.


Every spouse needs encouragement. In fact, everyone who draws a breath needs encouragement. defines “encourage” as: (1) to inspire with courage, spirit or confidence, (2) To stimulate by assistance and approval and (3) to promote, advance or foster.

When you inspire, assist and promote your spouse, you breathe life into them. You not only breathe life into them, you help them build and better their life. And it can be a simple as:

  • “You did such a great job with this.”
  • “Try it! I think you’ll be great at it!”
  • “I love the way you do that.”
  • “Here, let me help you with that.”
  • “I think you have a real talent for that.”
  • “I’ve got this. You go take a break.”
  • “I was telling someone just the other day how great you are with this.”
  • “Thank you for all you do for me and our family. I don’t know where we would be without you.”

This takes little to no time, costs you nothing and has tremendous power to change the tone and direction of your marriage, yet we to often fail to put intentional effort into encouraging our spouse.


Our failure to consistently encourage our spouse will naturally lead to their discouragement. Discouragement is the dark side of the force. It is the opposite of encouragement, and looks like:

  • “You did ok on that.”
  • “I’ve never really liked the way you do that.”
  • “I didn’t help, because it looked like you had it under control.”
  • “Why would you want to do that?”
  • “I don’t understand how you can think that way!”
  • “You sure you want to try that? You’re not that good at that sort of thing.”

Where encouragement breathes life into your spouse, discouragement sucks the life out of them…and your marriage.

The choice is yours. You have the power to lift your spouse up, or tear them down. You have the power to strengthen your marriage or weaken it. Light side or dark side?

So, to paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, “use the force, padawan.” Encourage your spouse regularly…even if they’re acting like a Wookie!

Are you more of an encourager or a discourager to your spouse? Are you building them up more than tearing them down? Are you pointing out their strengths more than their weaknesses? If you’re brave, ask others whether they think you’re more of an encourager or discourager. If you’re really brave, ask your spouse that question. Then, find ways to regularly encourage your spouse this week.

Copyright © 2017 Bret Legg