By Joan Salmon
Everyone thrives on being cheered. Praise from your parents, a pat on the back from your teacher, a word of appreciation from your boss or workmates… these are things that encourage us to keep going on. Marriages are not any different, as a cheering spouse makes doing extraordinary things worth it for their partner.
Mr and Mrs Brave Godfrey and Charity Byarugaba have walked the “cheering journey” and are not about to stop. Byarugaba shares that when his wife, Charity, cheers him, it gives him a sense of belonging, it means he has a fall back plan for encouragement, and support. “It means motivation to keep on keeping on despite life’s challenges, it spells love.”
On the other hand, when he cheers Charity, it gives her moral to go an extra mile in being innovative, productive and more resourceful at the workplace as well as at home. “Her success is the success of the whole Byarugaba family,” Byarugaba lays out the importance of encouraging his wife.
Charity shares that Byarugaba cheering her on means he has allowed her to be herself. “He has let me keep the friends I need to keep, and network, which is very important for my career. He has allowed me to participate as a facilitator for several women initiatives,”she says.
Charity gives another example of how her husband has been practical about praising and encouraging her to do various things she wants to do. She reminisces about the year it was their turn to lead their Marrieds Fellowshipgroup. At around the same time however, she was given a management training opportunity to work in Nairobi.Byarugaba however stepped up to the plate and asked her to pursue the opportunity in Nairobi.
“Apart from allowing me to lead this fellowship with him, in my absence, he led it alone for more than seven months and I can confirm that he did an excellent job. Besides that, he chose to be both mum and dad for close to two years. That there is a very rare quality,” she shares.
Byarugaba cheering Charity on has also meant that she can spend her money on her family, as well as other projects which might succeed or fail but she has the opportunity to try it out. “It also meant I was able to start my master’s degree as a mother of three children then with a six months old baby which meant he had to sacrifice and be home early to ensure the children are well catered for.”
Byarugaba has also shared strategic ideas with Charity, and let her take charge of certain family decisions without necessarily waiting for him. “In brief, I have empowered her to lead the family,” he says.
Charity remembers when Byarugaba asked her to resign from one of her jobs because she was overwhelmed. “He did it so I could find myself and in the time I was away from work, he provided for us, always called to check on me and encouraged me that all hope was not lost.”
Because of the trust he has in her and how he has allowed her to be who she is, Charity is grateful and prays for her husband, speaks positively into his life, and appreciates and believes in him.
The importance of praising your spouse
Evelyn C. Kharono, a counselling psychologist with Sermo Therapy Consultancy Ltd, says one of the highest needs of human beings is to love and be loved. “According to Maslow’s Pyramid of needs, belonging comes immediately after basic needs in life, clearly stating the importance of individuals knowing that they are loved.”
Kharono adds that one will fall in love with the hope that their partner will be a confidant and friend who sticks at all times.
When one is cheered on by their spouse, Kharono says it reaches a point when other people’s opinions about them do not matter. “However, if the spouse puts them down, this is likely to cause a poor self-image which may in turn negatively affect the relationship. It is therefore important for couples to be intentional at making their relationship work through lifting one another’s mood and encouraging them, even at the smallest achievements.”
Joel Gabriel and Ann Opio have tried to do this consistently. They have chosen to believe in each other as the other’s closest friend. “That does not stop us from sharing and opening up to others but ultimately, we are closer to each other than to everyone else. So when any of us comes up with an idea and after assessing it find it good, we walk the journey, close together,” Joel shares.
Ann adds that they each invest in the other. “Where the other needs money and one can help add a top up, we do. He does a better job in this as he has always given me a financial startup for my businesses. More to that, we celebrate each other’s milestones.”
She adds that when going on inspirational/transformational programmes, Joel often goes with her and makes an enthusiastic audience. “Twice, I have been on radio talk shows and he has listened in and gone an extra mile to record and share with others. When he has been on radio talk shows, I have also made it a point to give him great confidence and let him know he does it really well.”
Joel shares about times when they have had to go for job interviews. “We encouraged one another by speaking greatness in each other, praying together, preparing each other in terms of dressing, knowledge/ information till we know the other is done.”
How to do it
Mr and Mrs Byarugaba share that to ably cheer one another, couples first need to work on their relationship, specifically being friends because when people are friends, urging the other to be better is easy.
“There is also need to develop trust in one another. That way, it will be easier to work at each other’s weaknesses because you will appreciate that there is no perfect couple in the world and you won’t feel ashamed to share. We always remind each other that we are not perfect so we go back to God who is the only one that can perfect a spouse,” they share.
The Byarugabas urge couples to purpose to discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses and help each other to improve.
They also emphasise the need for family altars (where they pray together), marrieds fellowships (accountability partners), and marriage related programs.
Oftentimes people encounter challenging situations such as in their businesses or workplaces, but if their significant other decides to be understanding and accept them even at their lowest point, then they have the guts to fight again.
“Even short statements such as, ‘I am here’, ‘Count on me’, ‘All will be well’ can go a long way in lifting this person up to try again,” Kharono intimates.
Cheering one another as a couple also cements the relationship because love reciprocates love. “Remember, it is very common to find couples belittling each other to an extent of causing resentment. However, cheering one another makes no room for this,” Kharono says.
Cheering or lifting one another should not be taken for granted but instead be used a tool to strengthen marriage.