Linda and Dan had over two decades of marriage under their belt. With one child in high school and the other in middle school, this should have been some of the best years of their marriage and life. When they called us, Linda was considering separating because she could not “stay in a passionless marriage one more day.” We met them in a full day Marriage Intensive solely focused on improving their relationship. Dan seemed clueless that there was any problem.
After spending the day working on each spouse’s key issues and discovering what each wanted for their future together, we helped them develop a plan to move forward. Among other things he committed to daily thinking of at least one thing that he appreciated about her and telling her. We met again seven days later in a follow up coaching call and she reported beginning to feel close to him “like I did when we first started dating.” Four years later, Dan and Linda report that that day was the catalyst for their relationship being deeper, stronger and more passionate than ever.
There is amazing power in appreciating your spouse. Spouses who receive it begin to feel closer, more emotionally connected. Spouses who give it begin to change their heart and the way they perceive their spouse.
Deep connection in a marriage can only happen when appreciation is a part of the relationship.
Jesus asked us to pray for enemies (Matt 5:44) and he must have known what research is just now discovering. Anger, grudges, un-forgiveness, resentment and bitterness cannot coexist in the same heart with appreciation. One displaces the other.
Appreciation is the antidote to resentment and bitterness.
What is great about appreciation is that works if only one of the spouses implements it unilaterally. In other words, if one person in the marriage begins discovering and telling their spouse what they appreciate about them, the marriage changes.
If you feel stuck in your relationship and believe you do not think it will ever get better unless your spouse goes through a complete transformation, then you need to try this.
- Find a place to write at least one thing you appreciate about your spouse every day. You may want to write it in a journal or begin a word file called “Things I Appreciate About My Spouse”. But do it daily.
- Focus on what you notice about their heart. About who they truly are. Listing characteristics or traits of your spouse you appreciate is better than listing some behavior or action they perform.
- Find a time to tell them what it is you appreciate about them. You may want to tell them looking right into their eyes or perhaps send them a message. What ever way you choose, make it clean and uncluttered by other communication. Just say, “Something I appreciate about you is _______”.
- Let your spouse decide to receive it reject it without any comment from you. No matter what they say back, even if they say nothing, stay committed to implementing this strategy of appreciation daily.
Your relationship is worth this simple daily task. Make a commitment and do it. And let us know how it turns out for you.
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2014. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.