“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” -1 Thessalonians 5:11
This year, begin to infuse your relationship with peace, joy and an abundance of appreciations. Research shows that in thriving relationships for every one negative comment made, there needs to be a counter of at least five positive comments. Fortunately, this is the one practice you can begin immediately and find your relationship blossoming in an atmosphere of positive change. Let your spouse know how much you appreciate them by expressing gratitude for the little things they do every day.
My husband and I would often have unpleasant arguments on the way to church. We found each Sunday if we gave each other three appreciations it made it impossible for us to fight. The atmosphere in the car changed. Now we look forward to those minutes before worship at church by doing this appreciation exercise every week.
If you need help getting started with this, below is a list of sample appreciations taken from John Gottman’s, “I Appreciate” exercise. When putting this into practice, be sure to give sincere and honest appreciations followed-up by telling your spouse examples which illustrate the characteristic you’re praising.
You are… loving, sensitive, brave, intelligent, thoughtful, generous, loyal, truthful, strong, energetic, sexy, decisive, creative, imaginative, fun, attractive, interesting, supportive, funny, considerate, affectionate, organized, resourceful, athletic, cheerful, coordinated, graceful, elegant, gracious, playful, caring, a great friend, exciting, thrifty, shy, vulnerable, committed, involved, expressive, active, careful, reserved, adventurous, receptive, reliable, responsible, dependable, nurturing, warm, kind, gentle, practical, witty, relaxed, beautiful, handsome, rich, calm, lively, a great partner, a great parent, assertive, protective, sweet, tender, powerful, flexible, and understanding. (Add your own!)
If you find yourself persistently looking through the lens of what is wrong with your spouse or what needs to be improved, let this be the season you change your lens and begin magnifying the good things in them. Start highlighting the positive and speaking words of high value to your spouse. Daily giving of simple appreciations is a positive way to fan the flames of friendship and love and increase the intimacy in your relationship.