How to Improve your Marriage: Exercise #3

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With all the talk lately on gratitude and the positive benefits of expressing thanks in our lives, I’m skipping my planned exercise and inserting this one. Whether you’re joining me for the first time or coming back, welcome to How to Improve your Marriage: Exercise #3.

I knew someone once who loved to complain about their spouse. Every day, this person would look for negative things to tell. Each day the items got worse as if the negative had to one-up the previous day’s complaint. This carried on for months until their marriage ended in a divorce.

Maybe the spouse was really terrible, or maybe looking for the negative can turn anyone into a demon. My husband isn’t perfect, and I’m sure he’s super flawed like the rest of us, but I don’t see it. We decided before we got married that we wouldn’t complain about each other to anyone else. And we don’t. Maybe I tease occasionally about the cupboard doors he leaves open after making a sandwich, and he probably does the same with my inability to remember analogies, but we don’t ever have gripe sessions with others.

If we have a problem, we’ve always approached each other and spilled what’s bugging us. Does it hurt? Sometimes, but it’s like a band-aid, fast and done. And then we move on, happier than we were before.

The Excercise

Discuss this article with your spouse and decide to stop the negative spirals of complaining to others about your partner (if you’re already a pro keep reading for an additional exercise for this week). Recognize that change takes time. Don’t expect your spouse to change this practice overnight. Give them space and grace to overcome, and give it to yourself too. You don’t have to be perfect today or tomorrow, just shooting for it.

Once you’ve eliminated the negative, focus on the positive (or rather sprinkle it starting now). Like last week’s exercise, pointing out the best qualities in your spouse on a regular basis can help you see those traits and forget/ignore the others. When you feel like the luckiest person in the world because you’re with another human being blessed with divine gifts and the potential to smooth out rough edges, it’s amazing what that can do for your relationship.

I hope you’ve enjoyed How to Improve your Marriage: Exercise #3. Change takes time and is full of small and simple things. But everyone is capable of change if they want it.

How to Improve your Marriage: Excercise #2

How to Improve your Marriage
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Welcome! This week’s post on How to Improve your Marriage: Excercise #2 is a continuation of our previous lesson. Both activities as well as the ones to come, are founded on bringing positivity back into your marriage.

Why is positivity so important? Let me share in example. During my college career, I attended a class where we played a simple game with a profound moral. The professor sent two volunteers outside while the rest of us decided on an item that would be “it.” I can’t remember what the object was, probably someone’s pen that we hid inside the room.

The first student returned and we cheered and clapped every time he took a step in the direction of the item. Within twenty seconds, he had the object in hand. He replaced the item and then we ushered in the second student.

Instead of giving positive praise by clapping and cheering, we booed and hissed. For every wrong step we snarled. Every glance away received a jeer. By the end of a minute the student had enough. She sat in the middle of the floor for the next thirty excruciating seconds while we continued our tirade. She curled into a tighter and tighter ball until the professor called quits.

Positive responses encourage positive results. Negative responses stop everything positive and create problems.

So, from this simple exercise, we learned that positive responses encourage positive results. Negative responses stop everything positive and create problems. I knew I through in that word positive too many times, but it’s important. If you want to improve your marriage, then bring positivity back into your marriage. And you can do that step by step with my easy, weekly marriage excercises.

A Simple Step to Improve your Marriage

This week’s activity starts with a simple question. It’s designed to open conversations. The trick is to not allow negative comments during this activity. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently spoke about creating safe-havens. He says “… as turmoil rages around us, we need to create places where we are safe.” It’s likewise essential to create safe conversations in our relationships.

The more we cultivate safe topics and try and apologize when we make mistakes, the more those havens can grow and spill into the harder conversations.

To encourage this growth you can ask this simple question: What do I do that you like? Give your spouse time to answer. It might be days. You’re probably catching them off guard. Give them the time and space they need. Tell them their answer is important to you. Be willing to accept their answer, whatever it is, whether it seems small or insignificant to you. It might be very important to them. Be willing to answer that question too. Look deeply and find as many things you like about your spouse and share them today and tomorrow and every day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s How to Improve your Marriage: Excercise #2. Don’t forget to check out last week’s activity and come back next for more.

The End

Sometimes the best beginnings come at the heels of closings. Recently, I wrote “The End,” finishing off my latest YA romance novel. I’ve written those two infamous words many times, but this moment is different.

Before, I had this silly notion that if I worked harder, if I just pushed past my limits, I would get the agent and the publishing contract. But there’s something to be said for working smarter.

With this novel, I didn’t write until I understood the pain that would afflict my characters the most. And I didn’t dare torture them until I was willing to be vulnerable and take all the heartaches I’ve felt and smear my pages with them.

With my current novel, I started writing when I could connect every single dot. Every detail has a purpose. Every description has double meanings. Every action is formulated to help the character achieve what they want, but first, they each have to fail.

Like my characters, I have struggled. Again and again, I’ve poured heart and energy into my books without the results I wanted. But now is the end of an era of failings. I’m ready to succeed. I’m ready to begin something new.