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Marriage and the Art of Adjectives

There are people in this world who are grammar nuts. It’s their “thing.” They have an uncanny ability to track down a misplaced preposition. They seem to understand the difference between “who” and “whom” with a shocking level of contextual clarity.

I am thankful for these people. I am not one of them.

But I do like words. Words pour out of me easily, whether on the page or in conversation. My husband is a man of much fewer words. I’m almost certain that he keeps his thoughts inside a little treasure box inside his mind. When you get to peek into the box, that’s something really special.

Attention to Detail

Recently, my treasure-box-brained husband taught me a lesson on marriage: It doesn’t take a ton of words to connect in relationship with someone, but it does take attention to detail.

My husband calls this skill “The Art of the Adjectives.”

Rather than coming into the kitchen and saying, “Dinner smells good,” he says, “Dinner smells fabulous!”

Rather than commenting that my outfit looks “nice,” he tells me that my outfit is “fantastic!”

Rather than asking me to pick up the kids when it’s his day for pickup, he acknowledges my schedule with, “I know you have lots on your plate …”

I have to admit, it’s a good way to keep my mind and heart malleable to schedule changes and my hands cooking meals at the end of long days.

Consider the Other's Perspective

Twenty years ago, on our wedding day, I’m not sure fabulous or fantastic would be the go-to descriptors you’d find on Dave’s tongue. He surely doesn’t employ them unless he truly believes them. My Dave is genuine with his affection and affirmations, not manipulative. Rather, I think we both have learned over time to respond to each other by considering the other’s way of perceiving and understanding the world. It’s so tempting to remain fixed in my own views and my own will. Part of the biblical vocational work of becoming one flesh in marriage is that daily action of moving toward seeing our spouse’s needs and perspectives more clearly, while maintaining pieces of the uniqueness of our own.

We also see this “Art of the Adjectives” concept biblically in the Song of Songs. Adjectives move back and forth between the two lovers throughout the book, whether during courtship, as newlyweds, or in their seasoned love.

Lovers’ Words in Scripture

Open the book and you’ll see immediately. In Song of Songs 1:8, we hear the male lover amplify how he sees the female lover:

If you do not know,
    O most beautiful among women,
follow in the tracks of the flock,
    and pasture your young goats
    beside the shepherds’ tents.

(ESV, emphasis added by author)

She is not simply beautiful to him. She is the most beautiful. 

The female lover responds in kind in Song of Songs 2:14:

O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
    in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
    let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
    and your face is lovely.

(ESV, emphasis added by author)

How Christ Views His Bride

Incidentally, this is also how Christ sees His Bride, the Church. Jesus doesn’t have to shower us with adjectives, but He does: precious, beloved, treasured, royal, strengthened, holy. Song of Songs 7:1 is blush-worthy in adjectives and offers clear biblical metaphors of praise that Christ declares over His own beloved, the Body of Christ:

How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
    noble daughter!
Your rounded thighs are like jewels,
    the work of a master hand.

(ESV, emphasis added by author)

Isaiah 52:7, also quoted in Romans 10:15, interprets this passage for us: Our beautiful feet go out to proclaim God’s grace to the nations—or at least our neighborhoods.

How can those same feet best bring His grace and affection to those in our own home?

If you are married, it may be true that one of you is more likely to desire or need more fiery adjectives than the other. Yet we do well to pay a little closer attention to who needs what kind of pizzazz in sharing affirmation in any relationship. The lovers in the Song of Songs teach us to get creative about the back-and-forth nature of affection in any relationship, but especially in marriage. Whether with your fiancé or spouse, your child or children, your own parents or siblings, or even in friendships, try a little “Art of the Adjectives” to share love and care today.


Study more of how Christ sees His Bride, the Church, through the greatest love song ever written.

Dig into the Song of Songs with Altogether Beautiful

Written by

Heidi Goehmann

Heidi is licensed clinical social worker and mental health provider, deaconess, writer, speaker, wife, mom, and advocate. She can always be found at heidigoehmann.com, advocating and providing resources for mental health and genuine relationship. Heidi loves her family, sticky notes, Jesus, adventure, Star Wars, Star Trek, and new ideas...not necessarily in that order.

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