I want to give you 1 quick strategy you can do today that starts to shift your relationship with your partner in a better direction.
Marriage is the foundation of family life. And recently I’ve been receiving DMs from so many of you, saying I know you talk about parenting. But please please could you talk about marital relationships? Because so many of my kids’ difficult moments and tantrums and their anxiety- they’re absorbing this stress that’s present in my marriage.
Our partnerships need our attention. For those of us with kids… well, there’s nothing more important in a family system than making your foundation sturdier. Kids pick up on our marital stress and often hold onto it, then it pours out in rudeness, tantrums, academic struggles…. And here’s something heartening: as we work on our communication and connection skills with our partner, the whole family benefits – adults and kids feels safer, lighter, happier.
So coming back to the strategy. Esp when you have kids, its so easy in marriages to get into a negative cycle. You know, scientifically we know from research that we’re all more primed to notice things that are undone rather than things that are done.
This is why, when you go back way early, in your childhood, you probably remember coming out of a test thinking you did much more poorly than you did, because your brain remembers the things that were left open, rather than Qs you immediately knew you got correct.
So bring this back to today.
We are primed, its not even our fault, we are primed to notice all the things our partner didn’t do. So therefore we’re primed to be critical rather than more appreciative because we actually have to expend effort to notice the things that our partner has done.
And yes, something else is true as well. We’re all looking to feel seen. When we feel seen, when we feel someone else is approaching us in a generous way, we feel so much more safe and secure. And then we’re able to give out so many of those positive feelings back to the other person.
So here’s a simple tip you can start doing right away. Talk to your partner about a 3 nice things a day policy. I know it seems absurd- do I really have to talk to my partner about that? But we really do. And there are many versions of this:
· It could be 3 compliments
· It could be 3 thank yous
· It could be 3 positive memories
· It could be one of each of those buckets
And you can say these things at any point to your partner, like I know I have to say these 3 things today.
Of if you’re like: oh I cant get myself to do that. We’re in such a bad place, it feels too vulnerable.
Fine! We cant just fight through that right away. It could be 3 things you text. 3 thank yous. Oh I noticed my partner actually got me a cushion without me asking! Or my partner made me coffee. I get my phone. Thank you so much for making me coffee. Hmm.
Or something like: you know the time I’m thinking about? We went for a holiday to bali, we didn’t have kids yet. We were sitting on those beach chairs, relaxing, ahh…that was amazing!
3 times a day that you’re really generating positive emotion.
And if it feels forced, that’s okay. New things always feel awkward. And if you’re in a rut with your partner, if you’re in a really negative, full of criticism place, then it will feel awkward to do anything that generates more positive emotion.
Go start with the 3 things a day policy. And write to me about how it goes.