Here’s something you can do for your relationship today. It’s called The Daily Double and it’s a way of tracking success in your relationship. You earn two points today by doing two positive things on the positive list below, while avoiding doing any of the negative behaviors from the list at the end.
Let’s up the ante and go for the Thirty Day Challenge. Do The Daily Double for 30 days straight. If you slip up and do one of the negative behaviors in the box at the end of this article, start over again at Day 1 until you have 30 consecutive Daily Doubles. Be sure to track your accomplishments every day.
Why do this practice? Your brain cannot be appreciative and simultaneously be angry, fearful or resentful. It’s like trying to breathe in and out at the same time – you can’t do it.
The more you practice being appreciative and take positive action, the more you crowd out fear and resentment.
So, put this list where you can review it daily. Keep a fresh reminder and do your part to create a better connection.
This simple (but not easy) exercise will definitely make a positive impact on your connection with each other. This is the marriage equivalent of an out of shape person getting into shape. It won’t happen without effort!
Even better, you are the one in control of whether or not you do The Daily Double for thirty days. You can’t blame your partner if you don’t do it. Actually you can blame your partner, but it’s you opting out.
Twenty-Four Ways to be Positive
- I listened to difficult comments and kept my cool.
- I was able to recap what I was hearing in a conversation.
- I expressed compassion in a difficult situation.
- When I felt I needed to solve a problem, I first asked my partner if they wanted advice.
- I used some appropriate humor, which my partner appreciated.
- I asked several questions before butting in with my reactions.
- I took several relaxing breaths instead of negatively commenting on an annoying habit.
- I expressed appreciation at least twice today.
- I took this further and expressed why I was appreciative of what my partner did.
- I took a time out to stop a downward spiraling argument.
- I apologized for my part in a bad situation or conversation.
- I went out of my way to do something nice for my partner.
- I had kind and loving thoughts about my partner today.
- When I had negative thoughts about my partner, I shifted to thinking of what I appreciated.
- I emailed my partner at least one appreciation today.
- I texted my partner at least one appreciation today.
- I said both “please” and “thank you” today.
- I made better eye contact today.
- I kept my voice tone positive during a difficult discussion.
- I told my partner how I would like them to respond to me before talking about a difficult topic. For example, “I just want you to listen with concern. No advice needed, just support.”
- I looked for something positive in my partner today then expressed it.
- I asked a series of questions about my partner’s perspectives and reality. I genuinely was curious.
- I took the initiative doing something I know my partner would value.
- I expressed empathy for my partner’s feelings or experience.
Important note: Think about how you aspire to be before having a difficult discussion. For example, be curious about your partner’s perspective, be patient, be calm, be assertive, be concise, be considerate, be understanding, etc.
Focusing on how you aspire to be is an exceptionally good way to have better discussions immediately.
If you do something positive today that’s not on the list, write it down and count it – and congratulate yourself. You’re tracking your success!
Today I practiced being:
- Curious and asking good questions vs telling or preaching
- Understanding vs pushing my perspective
- Thoughtful and considerate
- Grateful for things I usually take for granted
Today I avoided these negative behaviors:
- Cold shoulders
- Saying “never”
- Name calling
- Guilting and shaming
- Being resentfully compliant
- Raising my voice inappropriately
- Being vague about what I wanted
- Criticizing what my partner wanted
- Changing the topic during a difficult discussion
- Asking blaming questions like, “Why do you always…?”
- Psychoanalyzing my partner during a difficult discussion
- Acting like a victim
Peter Pearson, Ph.D., Relationship & Teamwork Expert for Entrepreneur Couples
Pete has been training and coaching couples to become a strong team since 1984 when he co-founded The Couples Institute with his psychologist wife, Ellyn Bader. Their popular book, “Tell Me No Lies,” is about being honest with compassion and growing stronger as a couple.
Pete has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” and “CBS Early Morning News,” and quoted in major publications including “The New York Times,” “Oprah Magazine,” “Redbook,” “Cosmopolitan,” and “Business Insider.”