In addition to protecting their friendship and growing in fondness each day, successful couples maintain and grow a spirit of appreciation for each other. The dictionary defines appreciation as a recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. In marriage, it’s synonymous with the word thanksgiving. Think of it in terms of those qualities in your spouse that you cherish, admire, or value at a high level.
I’ve always found great truth in this quote by Christiane Northrup “Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.” One of the great truths in life is that we find what we look for. Did you ever buy a new car and suddenly you see them everywhere? It’s not that there are more cars of that make and model on the road today than yesterday, it’s that today your eyes are open to seeing them. And so it is in marriage, the more you dwell on your spouses qualities, the more of those qualities you will see.
Once again, St. Paul got it right when he said in Phillippians, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
So, here’s how to use this his message in your marriage. Take out a blank sheet of paper and make a list of everything you appreciate about or are thankful for in spouse. It could be things such as how sensitive, thoughtful, caring, or adventurous your spouse is, or even how good her lasagna is or how much you appreciate that he fills your car up with gas. With a little thought you should be able to come up with 30 or even 40 different things and you are thankful about your spouse.
What to do with the list!
Two ideas: first, each day compliment your spouse by telling him or her one thing that is on your list. Second idea, buy a box of blank cards and write down one thing from your list on each of the cards. Then, a couple times a week leave one of the cards where your spouse will find it, by the bathroom mirror, in front of the coffee pot, on the driver seat of his or her car. You will be surprised at the positive emotions this elicits in your spouse. And remember: positive emotions in your spouse will move positive behaviors towards you.
This can be a fun exercise for the two of you to do together, but it may be even more powerful if you do it without telling your spouse what you are up to. You can then sit back and watch the positive charge in your spouse. You both win and your marriage gets better.
Remember: WE are enriched through our spouse’s friendship.