Marriage Hack #3: Embody Gratitude
I am convinced that gratitude is the solution to everything! The problem is that it can seem nearly impossible to feel grateful towards your partner when you are at odds with one another. One thing that helps me when I'm feeling angry and resentful (the opposite of grateful) is to step away from the big picture and focus on smaller things.
For example: I'm grateful that my husband, A, made breakfast and changed dirty diapers this morning...I'm grateful that he helped with the dishes after dinner...I'm grateful that he took the kids to the park so I could take a nap.
Keeping a gratitude journal is especially helpful. I resisted it for a long time but finally succumbed to Oprah's beckoning. Each morning, I write down three things I'm grateful for in general and three things I'm grateful for about A. I can't believe what a difference it makes in my mood and my perspective. I mean, Oprah is not messing around with this stuff!
Expressing your gratitude to your partner is the key. When I tell my husband how much I appreciate the things he does, we both feel good. Even when I’m not feeling particularly grateful, if I force myself to shift into gratitude, I instantly feel better.
Just the other morning, I was highly irritated with A for a variety of reasons. As I was silently stewing, I noticed he was helping our boys get dressed for school. I watched as he goofed around and made them laugh. He's such a great dad, I thought.
Even though I was annoyed with him, I forced myself to give him a hug and tell him what a great dad he is. Miraculoulsy, my irritation disappeared. Ok, disappeared may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it definitely lessened.
Give it a try. No matter how frustrated you are with your partner, make a point to tell him or her one thing you are grateful for (bonus points if you couple it with a hug), then see how you feel. It's not going to solve every problem, but it will help alleviate tension and bring you closer.