For many people January is somewhat of a letdown. The holidays are over, it’s cold outside, and we’re usually left with a few extra pounds from overdoing it in December. But to me the New Year means a new beginning, a fresh start, and as Oprah Winfrey cheers- “a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
You have a golden opportunity in this brand new year to bring a spirit of positive change into your marriage. Even in these barren days of winter a new perspective can begin to blossom.
Isn’t life all about perspective? I often tell my clients that I believe life is 99.9% perspective. How we choose to see the world is how we will experience it. So, it’s not a matter of overhauling your whole relationship. That can feel like a daunting challenge. Maybe it’s just a matter of tweaking your perspective – just a little. Noticing, perhaps for the first time in a long while, the good that was there all along.
It’s like Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz. I love that amazing scene when the Good Witch revealed to Dorothy the value of those slippers. She had been wearing them all along without realizing the power they possessed. In that moment Dorothy discovers she wasn’t asking the right question. The question was not, “How do I get what I want?” The real question was, “How do I recognize what I need to do to polish an old gemstone and discover how beautiful and precious it really is. That gemstone of course is your spouse!
Creating this shift in your awareness is easier than you might think.
Here are 3 steps you can take right now.
1. Be kind
This quote says it all. So simple, yet so powerful! “Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and the most underrated agent of human change” ~ Bob Kerry
2. Begin to focus on what you love about your spouse
Make a list to remind yourself. A great way to do this is to keep a Gratitude Journal about your relationship. When tension mounts you can refer to this journal to help you tweak that all important perspective. This can go a long way in helping you look past a multitude of annoying habits and can help you rediscover what makes your partner so special. Read it often and don’t forget to share these precious insights with the special person who inspires this affection.
3. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
Practice seeing things from your spouse’s “perspective ” instead of your own. You’d be surprised how much you can learn when you adopt an attitude of curiosity rather than judgment.
In my counseling sessions and in my workshop, I often refer to the adage –
“What you focus on expands.” If you focus on the flaws in your relationship, you will notice these flaws more often. If, however, you practice shifting your perspective to the positive, and focus on what you love and cherish about your partner, this is what will expand in your field of awareness.
One of the ways to begin shifting your perspective is to practice an attitude of gratitude throughout your day. This very important attitude shift can radically change your perception thus changing your world.
It works kind of like a prism, changing ordinary light into a rainbow of colors. The light doesn’t actually change, but our perception of it changes depending upon how we look through the prism.
Cultivating a climate of gratitude and appreciation in your marriage is not nearly as difficult or unnatural as it may sound. An appreciation does not have to be a prepared speech. It may be just a word of thanks for doing some routine task or favor such as, “I really liked it when you helped me with the dishes tonight.” Or, “Dinner was delicious!” It may be noticing something your partner is wearing or something you like about his or her appearance, – ”Nice shirt!” Or, ”Wow, you look great in that sweater.”
When couples practice this way of connecting regularly they cultivate the habit of noticing and sharing all the things they love about each other. Can you imagine how this could impact your relationship?
Some couples who really want to take this to the next level carve out some special time each day and participate in an Appreciation Dialogue. The Appreciation Dialogue is a variations of the Couples Dialogue, which I teach in my Marriage Repair Workshop, Couples set aside time and use this dialogue to let each other know what they love and appreciate about each other.
It’s exciting to know that with a little effort you can begin this new year with a fresh start in your relationship.
So, I guess January isn’t such a letdown after all.
Ah the beauty of PERSPECTIVE!
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Christine Wilke