I have stated before that I’m resistant to New Year resolutions, partly because I don’t like coerced participation in implicitly mandated arbitrary social practices, and partly because it’s generally more helpful for me to evaluate goals on an ongoing basis, regardless of the time of year. However, in the spirit of a new year, I can’t resist suggesting a simple technique that anyone can do today to potentially strengthen a marriage.
My suggestion is: Watch what you say about your spouse to your friends and social contacts, and attempt to focus on his/her positive qualities in those situations.
I’m not suggesting that you become inauthentic or play the social media game of pretending that your life is a bouquet of roses free of thorns, but I am suggesting that you experiment to see how your positive reflections about your spouse influence your relationship.
A few years after I got married, I recall going to one of my husband’s company parties. I was approached by one of his coworkers who introduced himself to me, smiling, and said, “You must be Lori. I want you to know that your husband always has such good things to say about you. He thinks you’re amazing.” I remember being pleasantly surprised by the man’s comment. I mentally conjured the times I was with my girlfriends and considered whether they could say the same thing to him. I wasn’t certain that they could. I can easily list many things I admire about my husband, but that doesn’t mean I always focus on them.
This man’s comment to me was indicative of my husband’s trademark loyalty. Since that time, I can think of several occasions in which someone with whom my husband worked said, “Your husband always speaks so highly of you.” Two of them occurred within the last year, 25 years after the first coworker’s comment. Each time, I re-evaluate how I represent him to other people, and wonder if I am being fair?
I’m not naïve. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if my husband also made an, “It must be that time of the month,” comment from time to time (which would be legitimate), but the point is that his overall representation of me was positive enough that other people mentioned it to me. Each time, it touched my heart and increased my feelings of love toward him.
In addition, if other people are noticing good things about your spouse, pay attention. A few years ago, I was reciting my problems to my older sister, who listened patiently and then said, “But you have a cute husband who adores you, so I think you’re going to be ok, right?” At first I thought it was such a strange thing to say, and then I realized that she was making a point that I wasn’t appreciating the strength offered by a loyal marital partner, and how that relationship can help overcome other challenges. Another time, a divorced friend of mine was over, and she watched my husband walk in from work, shout a ritualistic “Hi gorgeous,” and reach down to give me a kiss. I was giving him the “Ok, now go away, I’m busy with my friend,” vibe, and she said, “All I ever wanted was for my husband to look at me the way yours looks at you.” It stopped me in my tracks, and I realized that I know he’s a good man, but I don’t always appreciate or focus on it. Unfortunately, too many of us fail to appreciate our spouse’s positive qualities.
When I say genuine good things about my husband, I immediately feel more appreciative. I feel the same increase of love toward him that I feel when someone tells me he has said good things about me. The small irritants fall away and perspective shifts.
Lastly, when other people tell me something good about their spouses, I feel a positive energy boost, and it influences me to think about similar things I like about my spouse. If you want to practice, leave me a comment about what you love/admire/respect about your spouse. I would love to hear it. Make my day!
Photo credit: Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_sarella’>sarella / 123RF Stock Photo</a>