Unleashing the Transforming Power of Gratitude in Your Marriage
A guest post by Chuck Starnes
This article first appeared on www.chuckstarnes.com.
Gratitude will transform your marriage! And here’s a powerful tool that can make that happen!
Believe it or not, one drop of negativity pollutes the space between you as a couple and makes connection impossible.
But sharing regular appreciations with each other will rock your world in the opposite direction.
It will dispel that negativity so you can get the deep connection you’re longing for.
Negativity comes in many subtle forms. Any criticism, even so-called “constructive criticism,” will pollute the pond. And there are those more subtle forms like a negative tone of voice, or a disapproving facial expression, or a rolling of the eyes. Things like that.
It’s not what you say but how you say it that determines whether something feels negative to your partner.
Negativity is defined as anything that your partner says feels negative to her or him.
“Are you saying my partner gets to decide what is negative?”
Well…do you want a close relationship with your partner?
Then, yes, they get to decide. Because if your partner feels it’s negative, they will feel unsafe. And an unsafe relationship will never be close.
Why is this?
Criticism, or blaming, or playing the victim can trigger deep emotional pain in your partner.
When that happens, everything positive goes out the door.
You don’t even know who started the fight, but suddenly you’re in a conflict and everything goes negative.
Am I close?
You can be the most caring person in the world! Constantly working to do everything you can to make your partner feel loved! But when that one critical look triggers their pain, unfortunately that’s the way they see you. And it’s downhill from there.
You’re right. I get that. But that’s reality.
When pain is triggered, all positive things about our partner go away…it’s all irrelevant…it’s like those positive traits are nonexistent!
And your partner screams, “Why do you focus on this one negative thing and fail to see all the good things I’m doing?!”
Ever have that happen?
When you look at your partner through the lens of your pain, all you see and feel is negativity.
And soon all that negativity is spewing out of you into the space between you—through a negative reaction, a critical remark, or a glare.
I love road biking. So does my friend. One day I asked him if he’d like to ride. He said no.
“Why?” I asked.
He said, “I have a toothache.”
Ever had a toothache? Everything positive about your life disappears and is irrelevant until you take care of that pain. Right?
Because of the pain triggered in a relationship, so many couples are not really living with each other. They are living with their defenses in a perpetual shadow of negativity.
They see their partners not as a source of pleasure but as a source of pain.
And that’s when those negative words, that criticism, those put-downs come out of their mouth, further polluting the space between.
But here’s some good news!
Recent relationship science affirms that the most powerful antidote to negativity is gratitude!
Sharing what you appreciate about another person flushes the negativity from the pool between you and fills it with pure, pristine water that is not only safe to swim in but safe to drink!
“So how do I unleash gratitude’s transforming power in my relationship?”
I’m glad you asked that question!
Here’s a tool to help you push out the negativity, rekindle romantic love, and create a safety zone in your relationship for further growth, healing, and deeper connection.
Are you ready for this?
To get ready, let me ask you both to stand up right now and do two very simple things.
Step One: Give each other a full-body hug for 60 seconds.
I know this may sound silly, but bear with me, OK?
Are you doing it?
Well, please stand up right now and do it. I’ll wait…
And when I say full body, I mean just that. Hold each other like there is no tomorrow.
Feel the sensations all over your body as oxytocin and other super-healthy pleasure chemicals are released into your system.
This is far more powerful than you may think. So even if you think it’s silly, DO IT!
OK, not too much.
This is supposed to be a non-sexual exercise. (But who am I to tell you what to do?)
OK, if we can just stay on track for a moment…
Just take the time right now, and feel the pleasure hormones release into your system.
This by itself will start to rekindle your positive feelings for each other. Can you feel it?
This will also begin to create a safety zone in your relationship.
Oxytocin is a drug that creates a feeling of safety with the person who triggers it.
As you do this, your lower, unconscious, reactive brain will begin to see your partner as a source of comfort and pleasure rather than a source of pain. And vice versa.
Are you with me?
Keep going. Feel it. Enjoy it for a moment. In fact, shoot for a goal of 60 seconds.
But don’t count seconds. Just go to step two.
Step Two: Share an appreciation with each other.
Look into each other’s eyes and, one at a time, finish this statement:
“One thing I appreciate about you is…”
It should be whatever comes to your mind that you genuinely appreciate.
It could be “I appreciate you wearing that shirt today. You make it look good, and it makes me feel proud to be with you.”
Or it could be something like “One thing I appreciate about you is the way you give of yourself so unselfishly to take care of our children.”
Get the idea?
Now try it.
A 30-second appreciation one way. Then a 30-second appreciation the other way. Giving one. Receiving one. All while embracing in that full-body hug.
This will immediately change the chemistry in your body and your brain!
And it will change the atmosphere around you and the space between you!
Plus it really feels good!
Am I right?
Now here comes the part that will rock your world and transform your relationship.
“What?! That’s a lot. How am I going to remember to do this four times a day?”
It has to do with four critical moments that happen in our lives every day.
1. The first four minutes you’re both awake in the morning.
2. When you say goodbye for the day.
3. The first four minutes you’re home in the evening.
4. When you say good night.
According to Dr. Gary Brainerd, what you do during these times has five times the impact on your relationship than other times.
So you can see how this exercise has the power to turn a bad marriage upside down! (Or should I say right side up?)
Get ready to have your world rocked and your passion for each other revived!
So that’s the plan. It’s very simple.
– Full-body hug
– Appreciations shared each way
– Four times a day (during times that will have a profound impact on your relationship)
Now go! Do this for six weeks, and let me know what happens along the way.
Print out a copy of this tool here by clicking this link: Four Powerful Appreciations.
For more information on sex, marriage, and finding the person who is right for you, get a copy of Becoming the One by Salomé Roat. Click here to learn more.