Improve or Save Your Marriage and Love With Daily Gratitude

Love Renewed

Being grateful for each other and for nature renewed our love.
Being grateful for each other and for nature renewed our love. | Source

A Quick Turnaround With Gratitude

My wife and I have been married for over 25 years. We love each other deeply - and we're darned stubborn. But the difficulties and arguments had piled up over the years, and we weren't feeling the love. We needed a change. We changed all that in three months - in just 10 minutes a day - just by sharing gratitude. You can, too!

Gratitude: The Key to Instant Happiness

What is gratitude? Gratitude is a wonderful feeling we can create any time we want by focusing our attention on something wonderful. We can look at something right in front of us or remember a wonderful event. And then just silently say, "thank you." Our heart opens with a wonderful feeling. Our feelings follow our attention. Focus on something positive - really pay attention to it - and relax, and wonderful feelings start to flow.

Along with expressing love in a way our partner understands; and apology and forgiveness; gratitude is another wonderful way to renew a marriage or any love relationship. In fact, I think it will work with parents and children, too. If you're a parent and you try this with your child, let me know what happens. You may be teaching them how to have a lifetime of happiness. You may even be creating a link that will keep your relationship strong through those difficult teenage years.

Let me tell you how my wife and I turned around our marriage after 15 years of pain and frustration in just two months - in ten minutes a day!

How to Share Gratitude

Before we go to bed - and, ideally, before we're totally exhausted - my wife and I take ten minutes to share gratitudes. We do our best not to wander off topic, and especially not to get into frustrating situations, or even interesting ideas. We just focus on the feeling of being happy about something.

We started very simply, with just four topics. We would take turns. Each one of us would express gratitude for:

  • Something from nature
  • Another person (not one of us)
  • The other person - I would appreciate my wife, and she would appreciate me
  • Ourselves - recognizing something we accomplished or a quality that made our day better

It didn't matter who would speak first. We didn't need to give reasons. In fact, the shorter, the better. When we're really tired, we can do this in about four minutes. But ten is nicer. Long silences are a space in which we build the good feelings.

Gratitude for Nature

I got inspired to share gratitudes one day when I noticed that I wasn't noticing. I could be out under a beautiful sky like the one below, and not even see it. But if I take two minutes and look at a sky like this, and breathe, I feel wonderful. And I wanted to share that wonder with my wife.

Some days, it's not so easy. Sometimes it's late at night, I'm lying in bed, and I realize I never got outside all day. That's okay - there's still plenty of nature to be grateful for:

  • I can remember a day I spent in the woods or at the ocean or in a park.
  • I can be grateful for my cat, who is, after all, a natural animal.
  • I can even be grateful for a piece of fruit or a vegetable I enjoyed at dinner

It's all nature!

Jacobs Ladders Across the Sky

Sharing gratitude is easy when sunsets look like this.
Sharing gratitude is easy when sunsets look like this. | Source

Friends

Friends like Jessica, who does wonderful volunteer work in dog rescue, are easy to feel grateful for.
Friends like Jessica, who does wonderful volunteer work in dog rescue, are easy to feel grateful for. | Source

Appreciating Another Person

Today, who, in your life, was unexpectedly helpful, friendly, or even silly? Who showed courage or even simple courtesy or professionalism. All of these things give us people to be grateful for.

And if everyone was truly nasty today, you can, of course, remember an inspiring teacher or supportive friend from the past. Or a movie star you find inspiring.

Kris and I have found that appreciating other people aloud to one another helps us see the good in life - and the good in each other.

Appreciating Your Partner

If possible, appreciate your partner for something he or she has done today. Make it very specific. And, if you can, don't pick something that was done for you. Pick something they did that was for themselves, or from their heart. Here are some examples:

  • I know you really want to start exercising, and it was great to see you put on your walking shoes and head out the door this morning.
  • I saw you kick back and relax, and just listen to some music. It's so great to see you get out of workaholic mode.
  • I'm so glad you explained things to Nancy when she was puzzled.

Appreciating Your Loved One's Gifts to Others

"I'm so glad you explained things to Nancy when she was puzzled."
"I'm so glad you explained things to Nancy when she was puzzled." | Source

Gary Chapman, in The Five Love Languages, calls this Words of Affirmation. He explains why it is so important to be specific, and to truly support the person we love in being himself or herself, rather than selfishly supporting what the person does for us.

If you want, you can add a second item, thanking them for something they did for you, like:

  • "Thanks for helping me clean my shirt when I spilled grape juice all over it. I never knew how to get out a stain like that."
  • "Thanks for the lovely dinner. It was delicious."

Celebrating the Rewards of Life

Remembering our successes encourages us to keep trying.
Remembering our successes encourages us to keep trying. | Source

Gratitude is Not Positive Thinking

Sharing gratitude is very different from positive thinking. It is more open and relaxed. It is slower and more appreciative. It is more about feeling than thinking.

That makes a great deal of difference. Gratitude opens us up to the right brain, where we experience the flow of life and change. It leads to joy and to healthy, relaxed growth. In relationships, it leads to an increased flow of love.

The Power of Positive Thinking backfires. The greatest illustration of this is O. J. Simpson, the poster-boy for Denis Waitely (who called himself a doctor and created the Power of Positive Thinking). OJ was supposed to be the great success story. But (according to civil court judgment) he murdered his wife, and he's now in prison for armed robbery and other crimes. That's not where I want my marriage to go. How about you?

Appreciating Ourselves

Appreciating ourselves is not boosting our ego. Instead, we bring ourselves to awareness of things we do each day to make life better. The ego is all about being vague. By being specific, we encourage healthy change:

  • "I'm glad I took out the garbage without being reminded."
  • "I got going on that article I've been avoiding, and it's well on the way."
  • "I decided not to buy that expensive package the salesman was pushing on me."

If you're naturally modest, this may feel odd at first. But, once you do it regularly and see the smile on your lover's face as he or she sees you grow, you'll get into it. And then your healthy changes will accelerate.

Growing More Gratitude

After a while, I suggested other things we can feel grateful for. We've added two more to our evening sharing of gratitude. Now, we do these first, before thinking about nature:

  • A work of art or literature
  • A memory from earlier in life

Appreciating Art and Literature

My wife and I both love to read. And I've been watching some amazing movies lately. We found it easy to add these to our gratitude list. And it doesn't have to be recent. Sharing memories of favorite movies, art, or books from times past gives us joy right now. And it might even encourage us to re-read a book, share an old favorite movie, or try something new.

In fact, just before Christmas, I appreciated a children's book from my wife's childhood, The Light Maze. And, for Christmas, she gave me a wonderful gift: The two other books the author, Joan North, had written.

I Remember When Our Cats Were Kittens

A happy memory of our kittens playing together. Nine years later, they are a lot less frisky!
A happy memory of our kittens playing together. Nine years later, they are a lot less frisky! | Source

Books, Movies, & More

I Robot is a favorite book, and I'm grateful to Isaac Asimov for expanding my mind when I was a child. Others might remember the Harlan Ellison version (shown) or the 2004 movie with Will Smith.
I Robot is a favorite book, and I'm grateful to Isaac Asimov for expanding my mind when I was a child. Others might remember the Harlan Ellison version (shown) or the 2004 movie with Will Smith. | Source

Sharing Happy Memories

For a long time, I've been wanting to remember the best parts of my life. A lot of the good got lost in a haze of pain. Once our daily gratitudes were working well for us, the time became a safe and encouraging space for exploration. So I began to share memories. That allowed my wife to get to know more about me from before we met. And I'm getting to know her.

Then it grew. We have now shared memories of our honeymoon and our best vacations. Sharing these really gives us a feeling of gentle strength and renews our commitment to joy in the midst of life's ordinary frustrations.

What Works for You?

Nature, literature, and memories work in this family. What would work for you? It might be totally different. Maybe you want to reflect on family and friends more, or talk about great moments in sports. Maybe you want to re-live great vacations and adventures. There are so many things to be grateful for! Do what works for you. You can read this hub by Akhildev43 to find ten great ways to maintain affection.

Gratitude Growing in Our Lives

After four months of sharing gratitude each day, my wife and I are finding that gratitude is becoming a way of life.

Celebrating My Mother, Who Is Gone

For example, we now see the form of sharing gratitude as a way to do other things. Last week, I faced a problem. It was my Mom's birthday, and I always remember her then, even though she passed away over eight years ago. My question: How do I honor someone I love who is gone?

The answer: with gratitude.

My wife, my older brother, and I got on the phone together and shared happy memories of my mother. That's not the way we did things when I was growing up. Then, there was a lot of arguing, mostly. But, because I'd practiced gratitude just ten minutes a day for four months, I found I was able to set all that aside, and relive the happy memories and appreciate the strengths my mother shared with me.

All I have of my mother are memories; why not relive the good ones?

Nature and Poetry

Daily gratitude is making other, smaller changes in our lives, as well. Each night, I remember something wonderful about nature. So, now, each day, when I take a break in the afternoon, I pay more attention to nature. I relax as I take my walk. I notice the sky. I'm much more in the flow and feeling good. With less stress, I'm getting more work done, solving more problems, and losing a bit of weight.

My wife celebrates nature by writing haiku. She can share her gratitude each day with a one-breath poem.

Where Will We Go Next?

I have a funny feeling that, as my wife and I share memories of past vacations, the yen to travel will strike once again. It's been a while, as our parents get older and we face challenges in the new economy. But gratitude gives energy. As we focus our attention on wonderful things, wonderful things happen, and we get the energy to make more wonderful things happen.

I call that the Three Gees: Gratitude, Grace, and Generosity:

  • Gratitude is a choice we make to focus on, and feel, the wonder in our lives.
  • Grace is the energy that lets us move through life gracefully, naturally solving problems and making great things happen
  • Generosity is the natural result of grace. When we're full of good energy, it overflows!

Can you think of anything better to do with ten minutes a day than share gratitude with a loved one?

When We Share Gratitude, We Smile

Source

Focus on Joy

Can you think of a time when you shifted your focus, and suddenly felt joy.

See results without voting

More by this Author


Comments 40 comments

promaine profile image

promaine 3 years ago from New York

Hi SidKemp, This is lovely and brave. Thank you for sharing! I've heard that gratitude (or maybe expressing gratitude) is a good way to jump out a "small mind" mentality. It sounds like gratitude is good for practical reasons.! Paul


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Hi Paul - thank you for your thoughtful comment - as always! Jumping out of small mind - self-centeredness - is reall.y practical. Practical and spiritual are one. To be spiritual means to live in a flow of harmony with spiritual principles. This eliminates stress and difficulty, and brings joy to all that we do. What could be more practical than that? There's my Zen Thought for the day! :)


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

It is interesting that your focus on gratitude as a couple also came with the reading of the five love languages. My husband and I were just introduced to the love languages concept. Expressing gratitude as a part of your nightly ritual together could be considered both quality time and affirming words. It sounds like a great idea!


Tonipet profile image

Tonipet 3 years ago from The City of Generals

Hello SidKemp. Very beautiful. It's wonderful how being grateful with each other can make love dig through all the ups and downs of the world. "Grace is the energy that lets us move through life gracefully, naturally solving problems and making great things happen"

A very perfect hub for Valentine's Day. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart. I'm sharing across!

HAPPY VALENTINE -Tonette


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you very much for this. I decided to "date" my wife again. Though it worked well for me, it may bot be for everyone.


elle64 profile image

elle64 3 years ago from Scandinavia

Beautiful thanks


MelChi profile image

MelChi 3 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

Hi Sid, wow! Am I glad I came across your article this morning. What a fantastic way to start the weekend. Your title hooked me, and when I went on to read, I found myself fascinated with all the information you've written. It's amazing how verbalizing gratitude can make such a difference. I'm going to try to do a few of these things more often. Thank you so much for sharing, I'm going to share across as well. :)


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Hi Denise - yes, Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages is the easiest system I've found - in 20 years of looking - for renewing our marriage. My wife and I actually started gratitudes first, then came across the 5 Love Languages (which I've written about here http://hub.me/aeG12) The two work together well. And apology (http://hub.me/aeGnM) is great when we mess up on love and gratitude! It all builds a nourishing, sustaining love.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Yes - sustaining ourselves in being graceful (the physical image of having the energy of a dancer) is, for me, connected to spiritual grace as well. And you've got me thinking about another hub - Valentine's Day! Thanks Tonipet!


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Thanks Mhatter! Your decision to date your wife remind me of a story. A aging travellng salesman mentioned he was celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary. All the young men, in strained marraiges and never home, gathered around and asked how he's stayed happily married so long. He replied, "I take my wife out on a date every Friday night."

I've been trying to do the same for several years. Even though I don't travel now, what with illness and the strains of life, it's hard. But it's coming along, and the effort is worth it.

You're right - it won't work for all. But if we are flexible - maybe a date is dinner at home, or a walk in the park - I think that a weekly "date" of some sort can be great for almost any couple. Other readers want to share what is quality time for you and your honey?


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

And thank you, Elle. Nothing makes me happier than making a cat-lover from Scandinavia happy!


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Hi MelChi - and welcome. Thank you so much for sharing this hub. I want to help as many couples as I can create happiness together. Gratitude, love, apology - I'm so glad to be sharing the toolkit for a happy marriage.


KrisL profile image

KrisL 3 years ago from S. Florida

This is really beautiful, Sid. I agree with you that this would work for many parents and children. It would be a good supplement (or in a non-religious family, a substitute) for family prayers.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Thank you, KrisL. I can't think of a better gift to give our children than to teach them to be grateful.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Sid - This story is beautiful. Sometimes marriages bog down, and gratitude is a great way to move to a higher level of a relationship. Your story was easy to understand, and I could see pictures in my mind of the happenings. The personal photos added to your story. We often share a meditation or prayer at end of day but nothing as special as the "thank you" sharing or memory sharing. Thanks for writing this article that can enrich relationships.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Thanks Brakel2! And the story continues: My wife and I have been spending more time sharing memories. We understand one another more deeply. And we're beginning to simply stop when we get tense, and share gratitudes instead.

You mght also like my hubs on The Five Love Languages and The Five Languages of Apology.


Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

Sidkemp,

I am always amazed and impressed when I witness the male species with an awareness and appreciation for love, life, growth, etc. Sometimes I feel alone in the world surrounded by a bunch of detached people, stuck in the monotony of required daily living. Especially in a time and place we are currently living, your thought process and willingness to share and suggest is just perfect. It would be so nice if people would take a moment to step away from the negative and choose the positive. I'm probably as guilty as anyone else. It is easy to get in a groove of negative thinking but it is a choice. This article is very closely related to my New Year's resolution; change my way of thinking and try to see the positive.

Thanks again, voted up and beautiful!


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Thank you - your comment shows how thoughtful, compassionate, and aware you are! I'm glad we've met and are getting to know one another. You might enjoy another hub of mine - the four secrets of happiness.


Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

You haven't seen the last of me, you're a breath of fresh air. I will be checking out many of your hubs, starting with the four secrets of happiness. Thanks.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

And I'll keep hearing you screaming out the truth!


Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier 3 years ago from Georgia

What a great article. I am a huge romantic and I think I can add this idea to my marriage to make it even better than it is. Thanks for writing this and improving the lives of others through it.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Thanks - my wife and I have been through a lot, and romance is re-ignited!


ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

This is an awesome hub SidKemp. You've reaffirmed something I've been putting off doing, showing and expressing gratitude. Even the good book says, "In everything give thanks". You and your wife got it right friend. You did it without the help of a Psychiatrist.

Thank you for this hub. Very grateful for it. :) Voted up and useful.


Careermommy profile image

Careermommy 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Sid, this is a great hub. I love when people affirm marriage and look for ways to improve it. You did an excellent job of getting the idea of that through. I also love The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Voted up and pinned!


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Yes, let us give thanks for Life to the source of Life, and give thanks to each person (and critter) for their unique and wonderful gifts.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Thank you, Career Mommy, especially for the Pin! I'm delighted when I can share joy with more people. Gratitude to you!


rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

Great article! Thank you for sharing.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Thank you, Rose! Do you plan on being grateful? :-)


rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

Hello Sid, actually, I am pretty grateful each and every day for all that I have been blessed with.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Wonderful!


raven765 profile image

raven765 3 years ago from Harper's Ferry

Sid, I really enjoyed your writing. I think we can all take something from it. You sound very experienced, especially in your writing. Speaking of improving love an your marriage, it may be slightly cliché but the movie "Fireproof" is outstanding in that area. The acting may be slightly B grade but if you haven't seen it the message is so strong. I hear there is a similar movie "Courage" by the same writers that I still need to see. Fireproof is more Fireman related (obviously) and Courage is Police related, but very good messages. Anyway, thanks again for your writing and I look forward to reading more.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Hi Raven - great to meet you, and thanks for stopping by. I'll have to look up those movies - movies with lessons about making marriage work - I feel another hub coming on! (And if you're a movie fan, check out my movie hubs - on WW II, and on Pieces of April.)


Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier 3 years ago from Georgia

Just wanted to mention that that movie you are talking about is called, "Courageous" and it is fantastic. It's about stepping up to the plate and being a good father. Although the main characters in it are policemen, it's not really police related. It's a really great movie with an even better message.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Thanks, Karen. I'll put "Courageous" on my wish list!


raven765 profile image

raven765 3 years ago from Harper's Ferry

Karen thanks for the correction, I should have known that. Looking forward to watching it...


Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

I must say, this Raven character brought "Fireproof" to my attention and I bought it and love it! Sid, I'm serious... please watch this, you and your wife will enjoy it!

Cat


LoisRyan13903 profile image

LoisRyan13903 3 years ago from Upstate NY originally from Long Island

Thank you for this hub. I have to use the tips for my marriage. A lot of times all it needs is change-just getting away from the daily routine for a day or two.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Thank you, Lois. My wife just came back from a 3-week trip. Absence *does* make the heart grow fonder!


Gratitude Journal profile image

Gratitude Journal 3 years ago

Very thoughtful hub. It seems like a no-brainer but gratitude can indeed be an antidote for a troubled relationship. Well written.


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) Author

Many people have trouble putting good language around the emotions of healing a relationship. Gratitude is a great place to start!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working