My husband and I love going for hikes and he *always* wears the heavier backpack whenever we go, which I always appreciate. Sometimes, I wear the "heavier backpack", in other scenarios. It's a good balance.
For example, I did all of the food shopping before quarantine started, and stocked our freezer, fridge and pantry for our home. It was a *lot* of work!
In case you haven't noticed yet, the quarantine experience is the GREATEST RELATIONSHIP RETREAT OF ALL TIME.
Oh yes, it is. To make your retreat experience a little bit smoother and productive, I'm encouraging you to start this ONE daily habit to nourish your key relationships. The exercise was developed by Harville Hendrix and his wife, Helen Hunt. They are the founders of Imago Relationship Therapy.
My husband and I do this most days and it flows very naturally now. At first, it might feel a little forced...that's OK, keep doing it.
This exercise will help you counteract negativity that tends to creep into daily life. It will help you shift your focus from the negative (what bugs you about your partner) to the positive (what you do like).
(Stay tuned to tomorrow's question to see something that bugged me about my husband recently and what we learned from it.)
By the way, negativity is defined as “any words, tone of voice, facial expressions, or behaviors your partner says feel negative to them."
You might want to chat with your partner about the concept of negativity, first. What do they perceive as negative behavior from you? Make sure you are aware because it could be a tone of voice or facial expression versus negative words.
The exercise consists of two steps to be done by both partners.
Make a list of everything you appreciate, admire and love about your partner.
Include everything from physical attributes to personality traits to behaviors. For instance, you might write that you love your partner’s smile, their sense of humor, kindness and that they help your kids with homework. You also can include general affirmations such as how much they make you laugh.
Every night share three appreciations from your list or something you noticed that day.
Your list is a great reference. But don’t forget to pay attention to the everyday.
For instance, maybe your partner’s behaviors were especially helpful or thoughtful. Or, they cleaned the house, cooked dinner or helped you with a tech challenge that was driving you nuts! Also, try to mention different appreciations every time.
This is an easy exercise that doesn’t take much time or effort. But focusing on what your partner is doing right can be very powerful for your relationship. As Hendrix and Hunt write, “The more you focus on the good, the more good there will be to focus on.”
Special Quarantine Variation:
Usually, this exercise is reserved for your partner/spouse. You may also do this with anyone in your home, such as your kids. Or, if you are flying solo right now, practice this exercise with your best friend (by phone or skype).
JOURNAL PROMPT: Who's making your life easier right now? EXPRESS some appreciation for that person! Practice the daily appreciation exercise by sharing 1- 3 appreciations, per day! The MAGIC is all about consistency and doing this every day versus being a one hit wonder.
Also, in your primary relationship, does one person shoulder more of the burdens or are you balanced? How do you want it to be?
* * * We all know about GRATITUDE and how important it is. Expressing heart-felt APPRECIATION is the next step. If ALL you do this month is master the art of appreciation, you will be transformed and your key relationships will thrive. * * *