This Daily Practice Can Improve Your Marriage!

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Experts say that one of the keys to a happy marriage is daily time sharing with each other. If you can spend just 10-20 minutes each day connecting with each other, you can develop empathy, and research shows that empathy is such a crucial ingredient in a thriving marriage. In fact, I explored the importance of empathy in THIS post.

I’ve recently learned and started a practice developed years ago by famed therapist Virginia Satir called “The Daily Temperature Reading”. This simple practice, which takes just minutes a day, helps couples create and sustain strong, healthy, loving relationships. When you do these, make sure you are holding hands and look each other in the eye. Each person has the chance to share in each section and the other person listens without interrupting, before moving on to the next section.

Now you can get the full breakdown HERE, but I’m going to walk you through each step:

1/Appreciations: This is where you share just a couple of things that you appreciate about each other. This can be as simple as “I like your smile” to “I appreciate you doing the dishes after dinner tonight”. It can be a really nice surprise to realize just how much our spouse notices and appreciates.

2/New Information. This is just meant for keeping each other” in the loop” on day to day stuff. You can start this by saying things like “I want to tell you about…” or “I heard today that…” or “I need to remind you that…”. It’s just about keeping each other informed, which is crucial to staying in synch and feeling connected.

3/Puzzles. This is just an opportunity to clear up any big or little mysteries in and around your collective worlds. With puzzles, you can clear up any big or little mysteries before they become suspicions, jealousy, false assumptions or resentments.

4/Concerns with Request for Change. This is where you get in the habit of saying what you want instead of what you don’t want. Basically, you can just describe a specific behavior that bothers you and explain how you’d like it done. This is a chance for you to make a REASONABLE request. Instead of saying something like “I hate it when you spew toothpaste all over the sink”, say something like “Could you do me a favor and clean up after yourself in the sink after you brush your teeth, so that there’s not any leftover toothpaste still in the sink?”

5/Hopes, Wishes, and Dreams. This is an opportunity to let your spouse know some things you are hoping for in the long run and in the short term. A partner who understands your dreams is able to help make them happen. Just like any of the rest of the items on this list, these things change, so it’s important to keep each other current.

Arrange a time that suits both of you to do these every day, Now it may feel a bit uncomfortable and awkward at first, but once you get in the groove of doing this on a regular basis, you’ll find it very helpful, and a real key to keeping your relationship strong and healthy. You can even do it with your kids. It’s a big help to just about any relationship!

Here it is in practice (with some audio difficulty):

Two Minutes a Day Doing This Will Change Your Marriage!

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In my weekly hunt to find marriage teachings and encouragements I can present to our marriage class, I came across this absolute gem that has the power to transform any marriage. It comes from Gary Thomas and the website Homeward.

Gary has a new book entitled “Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything for your Marriage”. While working on the book, Gary interviewed a woman who told him about an amazing marital “exercise” she put into practice. She spent an entire year working on her husband’s Christmas present. She kept a journal that recorded something she was thankful for about her husband that particular day. These were very specific, day-by-day accounts of what the husband did and why she was thankful to be married to him:  things like, putting up the Christmas lights when it was very cold, coming home and playing with the kids after a long business trip even though he was obviously tired, that kind of thing.

When she gave her husband the journal he immediately sat down and read it in one sitting. Later, when recounting this gift to a friend, he told him, “Reading that journal makes me aspire to be the man she thinks I am.”

So, you’d think that the real winner here is the recipient of the journal. But, if take a closer look, you might think differently. See, Gary tried this little marital “exercise” himself, taking a few minutes each day to write down something positive about his wife for which he was thankful.

Gary says that because he had to find something new to write about every day, he had to watch his wife throughout the day, trying to “catch” her doing something wonderful, or making sure he remembered something positive that she said. So, he was always on the lookout for the best, her most excellent qualities and characteristics. If he saw something displeasing, it wasn’t relevant to me, so he’d forget it and keep looking for the good.

He says it changed the way he thought about, looked at, acted toward, and spoke about his wife. He says it was an early gift to his wife because it changed the way he treated her, appreciated her, and spoke to and about her. And it was a gift to him to be reminded and filled with such gratitude that he’s blessed to be married to a woman who gives him something new to praise every day.

As you might remember from THIS post of mine, there is so much good to see in others, in circumstances, in everything, IF we just take the time to look for it. And if you take the few minutes to write down, every day, the positives you can find in your spouse, you just may take your marriage to the next level. Try it!!

The 1 Skill Needed In Most Marriages

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I just finished reading a fantastic article from Phil Carson at Connectedmarriage.org on the importance of empathy in marriage. Empathy isn’t just important to the health and success of a marriage, it’s critical. Seeing things from your spouse’s point of view helps to grow a level of compassion, trust, and intimacy that you might not have together otherwise.

Scripture tells us to:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 (NIV)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

So, what’s the best way to keep the “bond of peace”? Empathy.

In the article Phil outlines 4 key ways we can increase empathy in our marriage. I would encourage you to read the entire article, but here they are, in a nutshell:

1/Effective Validation: Phil says the point of validation is to be able to understand and to feel your partner’s thoughts and feelings.

Everett Worthington explains that there are three levels of empathy**

Level 1: Understanding – You understand the point of view of the other person.
Level 2: Emotional Identification – You feel with and think with the other person.
Level 3: Compassionate Empathy – You feel compassion for the other person as well as emotional identification.

2/Understand Your Partner’s Past: Phill says it’s so important for couples to identify their emotional triggers and how they came about. For instance, I suffered a good bit of emotional abuse growing up, and as such I tend to be overly sensitive to personal criticism. That’s probably the reason my LOVE LANGUAGE is “Words of Affirmation”. My wife, Leanne, understands this and she’s quick to praise me when I do well, and affirm any accomplishment of mine. As well, she understands when her words may hurt me without her intending them to.

Phil says that when we understand our partners emotional triggers, it helps us both to manage how we respond and how we react. It produces compassion.

3/Use a Journal:  When couples have built up a great deal of resentment and anger, Phil says, forgiveness is always a step in the healing process. When you are hurt deeply, write it in a journal. Writing down thoughts and feelings can help you to process your hurt. Processing your hurt can lead you to compassionate empathy. Compassionate empathy, in turn, helps with the deeper hurts to move the person towards forgiveness.

4/Switch Sides: The goal of empathy,  Phil says,  is to experience the world from the other person’s feelings and thoughts. It doesn’t mean that you agree with their actions, but it can help to increase compassion. So, how do you put yourself in their shoes? You can switch sides in your expression of thoughts and feelings. For example, pick out a specific incident and write a letter to yourself from the perspective of your partner. I could write a letter from the perspective of my wife. I could include in it my wife’s thoughts, feelings and motivations. Putting yourself into their perspective can be very healing. It’s true even if you don’t get actually get it right. It can help to see a specific incident through their eyes.

That perspective will build empathy.

 

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**as cited in Levenson and Ruef, 1992