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Don't be a drippy faucet!

Ever have a leak in your faucet? The constant sound of "drip.... drip." It can be so annoying and over time, if it isn't fixed, the sound can wear a person down. Couples can become like that drippy faucet when they nag one another with criticisms and contempt. We want to hear when we are doing something good, not constantly reminded about how we are flawed! The constant discouragement drains the relationship over time.

Expressing appreciation, fondness and admiration to your spouse daily is one of the most important strategies in keeping your relationship rewarding. John Gottman, in his book 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, states that "having a fundamentally positive view of your spouse and your marriage is a powerful buffer when bad times hit." He goes on to say that reminding yourself of your partner's positive qualities--even as you wrestle with their imperfections--can keep your marriage from deteriorating.

We find evidence of this in Scriptures as well. Proverbs 10:12 says, "Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs." 1 Peter 4:8 says, "Love erases many sins by forgiving them." And Proverbs 16:24 states, "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."

There are several ways to deliberately express fondness and appreciation for your spouse.

  1. When you find your spouse doing something for you, say, "Thank you!" Tell them why you appreciate it. Whenever my husband makes dinner (which is generally one of my responsibilities in our family), I make sure to let him know how much I appreciate it. Even though it is a small thing, it means a lot to me that he thought of me on those long days to take that burden for me.

  2. Remember the past with fondness. Is there a funny memory of how the two of you met? Was there a tender moment during your wedding ceremony that you remember with fondness? Gottman found that 94% of the time that couples remembered their relationship's history in a positive light are likely to have a happy future as well. Tell the stories of your early days together and remember what attracted you to your partner in the beginning.

  3. Express admiration daily. What qualities do you like in your spouse? Are they loving, cheerful, decisive? How about creative, fun, playful, a great friend? Write your appreciation on a sticky note, along with an incident that illustrates this characteristic, putting it somewhere your spouse will find. Or text in the middle of the day to let them know you are thinking of them. Make a point to express what you like about your partner to them daily.

Maybe your relationship is on the rocks and it's hard to remember why you got together in the first place or what you like about your spouse. It may seem that everything they do--and we see--is negative. Practicing these strategies daily will help you to maybe find some of the good in your relationship. It may be hard at first, but over time, these strategies may help you revive your marriage!

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