Gratitude in Your Marriage | Not Always Easy but Worth the Effort
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
This week giving thanks and gratitude are on all of our minds. However, finding gratitude in our marriage is not always easy.
We have started a tradition with my children where each meal we go around the table and each say what we are grateful for. I am sure this practice benefits my children but what I have noticed is how much it makes me think about what I’m grateful for and how so often my mindset is not gratitude. Instead I find myself in mindsets of feeling sorry for myself, being frustrated, or disappointed.
It was a relief to know after reading Dr. Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion that I wasn’t alone and that there was a good reason for my mind to focus on what’s not right instead of what is right. Very generally speaking, Neff described that from an evolutionary survival standpoint we needed to be hyperaware of danger, not having enough food etc. but if there was a good clean water source nearby that did not require our attention once recognized. Great we have water, what do we not have, need, what are the concerns. This was a relief to read. I had previously felt my bad moods and negative attitude that arose at times were character flaws. It was helpful to understand there is a reason my mind gravitates to what is not right. That being said, if I want to be more grateful in my life it will be an ongoing practice. I need to intentionally think about what is right with my world or what I am grateful for versus what I am not.
The same is true in my marriage. It is easy to get bogged down and have my thoughts and attention focus on what I’m unhappy about and wish were different versus what I appreciate and am grateful for in my marriage. However, if I could give what I appreciate at least as much attention as the negative stuff, I will probably be happier in my marriage and in general. My husband probably will not mind either.
As stated above focusing on what we are grateful for in our lives and in our marriage, takes intentional thought. I challenge you each morning for a week to think to yourself three things 3 to 5 things that you are grateful for in your partner and marriage. I’ll complete the challenge with you and give you my first five things here.
- I’m grateful that my husband is not overly worried about having a neat and tidy home and does not get upset or even say anything if there are dishes in the sink, clothes are put away, beds are not made, etc. etc.
- I’m grateful my husband enjoys cooking, is a good cook, and on the weekends, makes nice meals for us.
- I’m grateful my husband is a good father, can be present with our children, and enjoys playing with them.
- I am grateful my husband is patient with our children and when I’m losing my patience can step in and take over.
- I’m grateful my husband is open and receptive to the continuous, ongoing self-improvement and relationship improvement ideas that I’m reading about and sharing with him.
Please remember the effort here is not to paint a rosy picture of a perfect marriage or discount genuine frustrations or annoyances. I could provide a list just as long of frustrations and annoyances and my husband an even longer list of his grievances with me. No one’s marriage is perfect. For most of us and myself included a frustration list is easy to come by and on the forefront of our minds. What is more of an effort for me is to refocus my attention and give at least as much attention to what I appreciate and am grateful for in my life and in my marriage.
I hope you find this challenge helpful and it brings warmth to you each time you recollect what you appreciate about your partner and your marriage. Happy Thanksgiving!
Michelle Puster M.Ed., LPC
Katy Couples & Wellness Counseling
Helping couples grow close
Couples, Marriage, & Individual Counseling Serving Katy | West Houston
This blog is brought to you by Hold Me Tight | Houston. Hold Me Tight is a couple’s workshop developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. I will be putting the workshop on in Katy with colleague John Dietrich March 1st and 2nd 2018. Couples will learn were they get stuck when trying to communicate and what is leading them to distance, tension, or fighting. Partners will also learn how to communicate in a way that pulls their partner closer. Please click here for more information.