How happy would you say you are currently?
And then thinking about the holidays ahead, black Friday ads, family time, expectations…does it go up or down?
Despite what we will hear incessantly for the next 2 months, things don’t really make us happy. Not a bigger house, more cooperative spouse, or your boss less of a louse (channeling Dr. Seuss!)
What really makes us happy
What actually makes us happy, according to an 80-year study on emotional well being, is the quality of our relationships. Dr. Robert Waldinger, the current director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, said “One message came through loud and clear: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.” (https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/an-80-year-harvard-study-says-this-1-thing-will-make-you-happier-healthier.html).
One of the ways to improve our marriage is letting our spouse know what we appreciate about them. We can become so comfortable in our life together, that we can take for granted the things that make them special to us.
Gratitude for your spouse
I’ve noted before the importance of letting our spouse know that we appreciate them (Happy Marriages Have This in Common). So before we get lost in the bustle of holiday preparations, could we take a time-out to set an intention, and focus on actions that will bring REAL and lasting happiness?
- Do you know your partner’s love language? Sometimes we offer something, but miss the mark if we don’t know what fills our partner. We might be giving what WE want to receive, instead of what will be affirming to THEM.
- Brainstorm a list of ideas to show/tell appreciation to your spouse—just grab a piece of paper or make a note on your smartphone—and do ONE today.
- Ask your spouse to join you. Asking for what we need is not a bad thing. It creates honest, open communication. We can’t expect our partner, no matter how much they love us, to read our minds.
- As a bonus, while making your list of ideas, rate your current relationship satisfaction on a scale of 1-10 (10=could not be happier). Let’s do our own experiment, and see how the rating may change after 2 months of regularly affirming each other. You with me?
Are you up for a little experiment in your own backyard? On a sclae of 1-10 (10 being “we are the lucky ones, couldn't be any better”), how would you rate your marriage TODAY? For ONE MONTH, every day, make an intentional effort to let your spouse know that he or she is appreciated. Make sure to communicate it in a way they can RECEIVE the message. Mark your calendar, and in a month, rate it again.
Even if your relationship isn't in a great place currently, let your focus be on what you DO have, not what you DON'T have. Gratitude has a way of changing our perspective. Did you notice a change?
And if you’ve read this far, know that I am grateful for YOU, and hope you are able to move the needle just a bit in your most important relationship. Make it a great one!