I was recently revisiting a fantastic book called “Making Couples Happy” by John Aiken and came across a little challenge that I loved and wanted to share as I think it’s a great tool (and I LOVE collecting and giving out “tools”) to strengthen a relationship.
All you’ll need is:-
1. A little notebook each
2. An eye to recognize the good
3. A heart to be open to giving the gift of appreciation
The basis of the challenge is connected to GRATITUDE and the ability to EXPRESS appreciation for and to our partners. Too often, negative things are focused on and we forget the importance of ensuring positive input is given and received. Focusing on the positive is not always easy and I know that I’ve been prone to the negative in the past, yet now, I’ve made the mindful decision to focus on the positive. It’s not my natural default but over the years, as I have practiced and rewired my thinking by intentionally looking for the good, it is definitely becoming my “new normal” and my “new default”.
When we focus on the positive in our relationships, we build our partner’s self-esteem, they feel appreciated, we develop a closeness and connection to them (and who doesn’t aspire to be more connected?) When these things are felt, so is happiness, which strengthens a couple and their relationship. Happy couples are healthy couples so the benefits are great.
Personally, I know how good I feel when my husband thanks me or tells me he appreciates the things I do for him AND better yet, I love it when he appreciates me for the person I am.
Let me ask you this, when was the last time you stopped and counted the good things your partner does for you on a daily basis? Have you ever made a note of the things they do or say to you that make you feel great? Have you purposefully listened out for or watched their little acts of kindness or have you been to busy focusing in on the things they are NOT doing?
Have you heard that saying, “The grass is greener where you water it”? Well that’s what this exercise does, it waters your grass so to speak and by doing this challenge you fill your own cup/love tank as well as theirs because you begin to appreciate the things you do have rather than concentrating on the things you don’t have. It’s much better to meditate on the positive.
Below is the challenge so embrace it and see where it takes you.
THREE STEPS TO THE APPRECIATION PROCESS:-
- Each day write down THREE GOOD THINGS you notice, see, hear, feel your partner do for you. It can be anything like bringing home wood for the fire, making a delicious dinner, folding the washing, a smile when you arrive home – ANYTHING that looks or feels good to you (this will be different for each person and that’s okay!) Make sure you heap praise on them for all their efforts, even if it feels stupid or out of the ordinary I encourage you to give it a go.
- Share these three things with your partner at the end of the day. Can you imagine how great it will feel to go to sleep knowing that your efforts or acts of kindness have been noticed and appreciated? I’m smiling now just thinking about it! This can be as light and fun as you like so make it interesting and have a giggle as you go (no, not a sarcastic giggle, a playful one). NOTE: When you are the person receiving the compliments/appreciation/gratitude then make sure you say “Thank you” because seriously, manners go a L O N G way!
- By the end of the week, you’ll have at least 21 positive things on your list! How cool is that? Sit together, read them out loud to each other again and review the points. As the one receiving the positive feedback, make sure you tell your spouse how you feel when the good things you do or say are noticed E.G. I feel special, valued, loved, prioritized etc (make it your own). This helps to let them know that you do respond to positive affirmations and will encourage them to affirm you more. Oops, there are four steps, sorry!
- REPEAT THE PROCESS NEXT WEEK…AND THEN THE NEXT WEEK…AND THEN THE NEXT WEEK! (I think you get the drift)
Remember this is a skill that is taught and caught and once learned, will enhance and enrich your relationship incredibly so get to it, pile on the praise and gratefulness on your partner.
Watch and see how much they come alive and how effective this challenge can be!
My three appreciations for today are:-
- 1. I love how my husband calls me “Beauty” every time he speaks to me, like “Beauty” is my name.
- 2. I appreciate the kiss on the cheek when he leaves in the morning, even if I am still asleep and mumble back to him.
- 3. I am grateful for his support of my new business.
I could go on and on which I will, tomorrow and the next day and the next day.
I’d love to hear how you go and what difference it makes to YOUR relationship so please leave a comment below!
About the Author:
My name is Sandra Denton and my husband, Matt, and I have lived in Sydney our whole married lives. We were married in 1990 as young kids who really loved each other, or, as we now know, thought we loved each other.
You can read Sandra’s blog here.