One Way to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage
How often do you actually celebrate your spouse? How long since you’ve gone out of your way to show your spouse you care? If it hasn’t been at least since yesterday, you might be standing on thin ice. One of the common causes of divorce is the feeling of being unappreciated by one’s spouse. At least, that’s where it commonly begins. Unappreciation leads to a feeling of being ignored, and the sadness that comes from feeling ignored leads to resentment, and you know the rest.
But did you know that studies show that demonstrating appreciation for your spouse not only breaks the resentment cycle, it also makes you feel better as well. The researchers also found that couples who were supportive of each other when things were going well, were also helpful to each other when things were tough. It’s obviously a lot easier to be supportive when things are going well, but that’s when it is important to act in concretely caring ways, for it makes it easier to continue those behaviors when life is upside down for one or both of you.
The researchers also found that there were four possible ways we can respond to our spouse. 1.) We are “passively destructive.” We don’t focus on our spouse’s “good news” by instead turning the conversation back to ourselves, or simply by changing the subject. 2.) We can also be “passively constructive.” We don’t go to the negative, we just politely acknowledge the good event and change the subject. We aren’t really interested in what’s going on with our spouse.
3.) We can also be “actively destructive.” For example, our spouse got a promotion and all we can do is focus on the potential problems. “Now you’ll probably have to work more hours.” “I don’t think you can handle that much responsibility.” “Now you’ll never be home.” Or some other “wet blanket” response. None of these first three responses do anything to enhance your relationship!
4.) Of course the point is to be “actively positive.” You are enthusiastic, understanding, and ready to celebrate. This kind of response not only leads to greater emotional intimacy, but also to an increase in mutual trust and marital satisfaction.
But these describe our response to some specific positive event in the marriage. It is also essential that you show appreciation to your spouse for the little every day things. It’s a way to participate in the marriage daily. You start making a note of what you are now doing in showing appreciation, and find ways to do or say something each day. What your spouse is now doing also needs to be appreciated directly. Try it and you’ll see how commitment grows, as does your sense of intimacy.
What if you’re the only one doing it? Then read this aloud to your spouse and make certain you keep on doing it. And when you do get a word of appreciation, acknowledge it, for behaviors that get rewarded tend to be repeated.
Question: How long has it been since you overtly expressed appreciation for your spouse?