One of the most important things a couple can do is to keep a running list of positive interactions with their spouse and positive behaviors that they see in their spouse. I’m not necessarily talking about monumental things like “We won the lottery,” or “We just had five straight days of mind-blowing sex,” (although those should both make the list). Rather, I am referring to the daily things that make life good; the things that remind you of God’s presence in your covenant marriage relationship. It might be things like “He put a sweet note in my lunch bag,” or “She saw that I was stressed and knew just what to say,” or “He prayed with me today,” or “She kept me laughing all night long.”
You see, there is an inescapable principle in marriage. Your perception will always become your reality. If you see your marriage as a place of tension, or frustration, or sadness, you will look for things that reinforce that perception, and that perception will become the reality of your day-to-day life. But if you see your marriage as a place of safety, and blessing, and goodness, and love, then you will notice the things that reinforce that perception, and that perception will become your daily reality.
Our perceptions are always fueled by the messages we tell ourselves internally, and that we receive externally. When you regularly speak blessings, and encouragement, and gratitude into your mate’s life, you shape his/her perception of the entire marriage. And, the more positive the external messages from one’s spouse, the more likely that person is to tell herself/ himself positive messages internally about the relationship. Hence, the power of a positives list.
When keeping a positives list, write it down. Whether pen-to-paper or typed into your phone, it becomes so much more concrete when you write it down, than if you try to keep up with a list in your head.
Then, sit down with your spouse without distractions at least once a week and share the good you’ve seen in each other. The positives list doesn’t mean much if it’s not shared with the one you love. (Remember though, it is not a competition. If she comes up with twenty-five things, but he only comes up with seven, that’s okay. Appreciate the goodness you are speaking into each other’s lives.)
If you and your spouse make a positives list a regular part of your week, you will see two powerful things happen. First, when conflict does occur, you will have an anchor point to come back to, to keep your marriage rooted in the positive interactions. And second, you will be able to more easily separate a negative incident from who you truly are as a couple. An argument is something that happened, but the positive things you see in each other is who you are.
Take the challenge, and for the next month, keep a positives list. See how those messages shape your perception and shape your reality as husband and wife.