What went well in your relationship with your spouse last week? Are you aware? Can you remember?
I am giving myself a challenge this year to “practice what I preach.” And I am hoping you take that challenge with me.
Recently Susan has been reading me a number of things from her 5 year journal of fun things we have done in the past. Places we have gone, fun things we have done with family or friends or important events that happened in our lives. It reminded me that we need to be aware of the good things in our lives. It also reminded me it is how I begin most sessions with couples: “How did things go this week in your relationship? What went well?” Because I know they need to recall and recount the good things and progress they are making together. We all do!
Research shows when we stop and savor the good things in our lives, we strengthen ourselves against difficult events and circumstances in our lives. We build resilience and perseverance toward the harder things in life. When we build positive emotional responses by celebrating with each other we can actually take care of ourselves and our partners better. Berkeley psychologist Joyce Yuan (2010) found that couples who experienced positive emotions were able to calm themselves physiologically. In other words, positive emotions give us an ability keep from getting emotionally aroused, or “flooded.”
We need to celebrate wins because:
- It encourages us to continue to put effort into our relationships
- Celebrating in our relationships reinforces the positive, good things in our lives
- Positive actions and words generally elicit the same in return; they become reciprocal
- Being rewarded for our efforts motivates us toward even more good things in the future
- We experience more positive emotional responses when we celebrate
- We feel life in general, and our relationships, are more meaningful and satisfying
- We become more aware of, and continue to look for, the things that are really important in our lives
An important element to good relationship health is that happy couples know how to enjoy their happy moments together. Sharing the good things in everyday life with your partner can promote long-term closeness and connection. When you laugh together, you’re reinforcing the positive in your lives.
So, the challenge:
Keep a daily or weekly note of the positive characteristics and good things you see in your spouse. Catch your spouse, kids or friends doing positive and productive things. Recall that beautiful sunset you saw. Keep the moments memorized where you laugh with others. Journal what you appreciate or are grateful for each day. Then share them at least weekly with your loved ones.