By now, you have heard about the benefits of appreciation. If you haven’t yet, read Gratitude and Appreciation to Soften Relationship Irritation parts 1 & 2 or Google “benefits of appreciation.” Appreciation is a powerful way to 1) shift your mood, 2) strengthen your relationships, and 3) change your perspective.
You have even tried to change your marriage using appreciation or gratitude. You thought of the things that you are grateful for. You even shared one of the appreciations with your spouse. If you had typical responses, you saw your partner soften towards you. You also felt better about the relationship.
There is a more powerful appreciation tool that will reduce how much conflict you and your partner have. It is a level-up skill that is not meant for beginners. But I will share it here with you because it is so powerful.
Find a genuine appreciation within a problem.
To do this, you need to quiet your defensiveness about the topic. You need to look beyond your frustration and irritation. You will see beyond your desire to convince your partner that they should agree with you. You might need to take a step back so you can see the bigger picture.
- If your partner argues with you, thank them for helping you think about the topic more thoroughly. Tell them how it helps you to feel confident that you have covered every angle.
- If your partner nags you to take care of a problem, thank them for staying on top of tasks. Share how their attention to detail helps make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
- If your partner gives you critiques on how you complete specific tasks, thank them for noticing the details of your lives. Their feedback helps things run more smoothly.
- If your partner wants sex more than you do, thank them for tracking and keeping the passion alive in the relationship.
- If you and your partner argue about money, thank them for making sure that you are saving enough. -OR- Thank them for making sure that you use money to enjoy life.
Then, share this appreciation with your partner. This will 100% feel awkward to begin with. You are turning a problem on it’s head. You will have to do this a few times before the awkwardness begins to subside. You could do this for six months and still feel uncomfortable when you do it.
Why do something that feels so awkward? Because the benefits are much more powerful than just saying “thank you.”
You, like most people, naturally become hyperfocused on the problems in your relationship. Finding something to appreciate about the problem shows you that there are parts of the problem that are ok.
When you look at the bigger picture, you are able to have more empathy for your partner’s side of things. This doesn’t mean you will agree with your partner’s ideas. It means that you start to understand how they get to their conclusion. This often has the result of getting you to look for solutions that will make both of you happy.
In an argument, you overemphasize what you don’t agree about. When you look for a part that you appreciate, you have to look at the big picture. This is where the gems of agreement are. You soften your stance on the issue, making compromise possible.
When you find a piece that you can appreciate, it sends the message that you don’t think that your partner is way off the mark. Finding the good helps your partner see that you understand where they are coming from. When that happens, they will relax or soften in response.
If you have followed me for any time, you know how much I love the power of appreciation and gratitude. They don’t erase the problems in the relationship. But they build up goodwill between you so that conflicts are easier to resolve. They also help you see your relationship more fully and honestly.
If you are ready to let go of the disappointment and resentment of the past so you can feel close and connected with your partner, then join me in couples coaching. Developing the power of gratitude and appreciation is one of the tools we use to change how you and your partner relate to one another.
- Identify and repair the past hurts that block feeling connected.
- Practice communication and problem-solving tools that give you the skills to solve any problem so you can stop bickering and battling with one another.
- Develop a personalized plan to connect with one another on a daily basis. A successful plan works within the busyness of your life.
- Support your changes over an eight-week period to implement and troubleshoot your individualized plan.