“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.”
– Alexander Woolcott
Have you ever felt like a part of you was imprisoned or undiscovered in your marriage? Or perhaps your spouse isn’t recognizing all parts of you? And on the contrary – maybe you aren’t recognizing your spouse?
Researchers often refer to couples who “sculpt” each other. Both positive and negative moments can take an effect on your relationship by reinforcing patterns both good and bad. This “sculpting” can either reveal more of your partner by celebrating who they are, or if you are negative (or not supportive) it can hold them captive by being virtually unrecognized.
So what does this mean? When we recognize, honor, and celebrate each other, we’re freed up to be the best person and partner we can be. It’s up to us to celebrate our spouse, and sculpt the best marriage our love can afford.
In this two-part series, we will be diving into six ways you can celebrate your spouse by putting your best foot forward. Here are the first three:
1. See something, say something
We aren’t talking about homeland security. But we are borrowing this phrase to teach you to heighten your awareness and increase your capacity to notice more positive moments with your partner.
How often do you find yourself blurting out empty comments to your spouse? “You always make us late!” or “Why did you do it that way?” Scientists believe our brains are like velcro for negative experiences and teflon for positive ones. Many of us tend to blurt out criticism freely when it comes to our loved ones.
However, the same scientists believe we can retrain our brains by seeing something positive and then saying something about it. You can literally change your hardwiring in your brain to be more upbeat and celebratory. It begins with noticing something positive and then saying something to your spouse to reinforce what you saw. If your spouse picks up a mess in the living room, say “thank you!” If your spouse does the laundry, say “I really appreciate you doing our laundry so nicely.” Let them know you notice them and appreciate what they do.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it can be short and sweet. Be on the lookout for any chance you have to pass on a compliment, show appreciation, or let them know you notice something positive they did. A little bit of reinforcement can go a long way.
2. Celebrate good news
Research reveals that most of us don’t fully engage with our partner over the positive news as we do with negative news. It’s more likely that spouses will indulge and camp out in a conversation over the bad or disappointing things that happen on a daily basis, than have an upbeat conversation over good news.
How can you change this? You don’t need to ignore the crummy news or happenings of the day, but you should try and celebrate positive experiences each day as well. Even by celebrating the small things this will reinforce a healthy relationship!
For example, maybe your partner reached a big goal at the gym, or had a meaningful interaction with a colleague over lunch. By acknowledging these moments with an active and constructive response that’s heartfelt, you will sculpt a positive marriage. And couples who do this tend to be those who are happiest together!
3. Create an awe wall
This last tip is for those who fall into the pessimistic category – those who have a tendency to expect the worst, and see the worst. We learned this tip from a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania, Karen Reivich. Karen created an “awe wall” that was covered with her children’s photos, poems, and happy memories.
In fact, we have created an awe wall for our marriage in our kitchen. It’s filled with things that heighten our awareness and amazement. The board is continually changing, and sparks countless conversations. It’s a constant reminder of the positive things in our life. Strategies like an “awe wall” used consistently over time will lead to a long-lasting change and a more celebratory spirit. Pessimism atrophies when we deliberately focus on noticing the good instead of the bad!
Next week, we will wrap up with three more ways to celebrate your spouse. After all, love’s work is never finished. Celebrating each other goes a long way. See you next week!
How do you and your partner celebrate each other? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!