PLUS: 5 ways to start!
I love the smell of an empty book. Sure, that may be my own weird fetish, but if you spend some time in an empty book filling it up, it might just save your marriage. I know it sounds crazy. But, if you do what speaker and philosopher Jim Rohn suggests and 'jot down what you learn and be a buyer of empty books,' you could change your relationship and yourself.
There have been several times in conversations with my wife when I will say 'Hold that thought' and I'll go grab my journal. Something I have written down or recorded from an earlier time — overheard or written down in another conversation or a goal we have set, will help our conversation, or lead us to a new and exiting place in the talk we are having presently.
Here are 6 reasons why writing on a journal could help your marriage.
1. A journal is a perfect place to write out your thoughts and not yell at your spouse.
Having a difficult conversation? Tension in the air? Uncertainty of what comes next? Take it to your journal. The blank white sheet is the perfect place to ‘open a vein and bleed all over the page’ as Scott the Name Tag Guy vividly suggests.
The journal won't yell back. The journal won't cry or whine. The journal takes your verbal pen lashing and asks for more.
2. You can use your journal to write goals for the both of you.
I am a big believer in setting goals as a couple. You should think about them together, dreaming and planning, then take action to achieve them. The journal can be a place to formulate goals, to write out dreams, to capture things that inspire you.
It can also be a place of reference in the future. If you don't write your goals out daily, you can refer back to a goals list to help keep you motivated and on target.
3. You can remind yourself about the things you love about your spouse by writing them down.
Journals are a great place for lists. Start with 50 things you love about your spouse. Sure, you can dump negative stuff in the journal too, but why not fuel good thoughts about your spouse!
When you have a list of 50, take your journal and read them to your spouse. Next year, when you have completely forgotten about this list, and you are complaining about your spouse leaving the crusty white stuff in the bottom of the sink?
Somehow, this list will come to your mind, you'll grab the journal, read it and remember the good stuff. It can help you keep perspective on life's little difficult moments.
4. You can continue getting to know your spouse by writing about things you notice about them.
I believe that it is easy to get complacent in our marriages. We forget to keep learning about our spouse. When we lose the air of mystery — the awe — about this person we share our lives with, it can get down right dull and dreary.
But what if you record things in your brand spanking new journal about your spouse that you noticed today. Something they said that was out of the ordinary, or something new they have picked up. It could inspire you to be a better person — or simply inspire the gift of noticing them again.
5. A journal helps you slow down and notice patterns.
Sure, you have to take the time to make journaling a habit. Yes, you have to go back and re-read after a period of time (this is the important second part of journaling). If you do write consistently, you can see where you have the most problems in your life and marriage.
The journal also can be a great source of inspiration for you too. You will look back through your volumes and say: Wow, I was there five years ago...I still struggle here and here, but it's amazing that we don't fight about this or that anymore! We live life in the fast lane. Journaling is a great place to slow down and process our experiences.
6. If you plan on having kids, you'll be leaving something behind to help and inspire them.
Not to get all sentimental or anything, but your kids will probably want to remember you when you are gone. If you’re recording things that are good and bad in a journal (or several) over your lifetime, you’ll be leaving them an invaluable gift. You can continue to give to others and help them long after you are gone by recording your thoughts in an empty book.
Here’s how to start:
1. Go Cheap.
I have used the dollar composition notebooks for several journals. Get them on sale after the kids go back to school. After you get started and fill one up, you can then decide what type of empty book you want to journal in. Some people even journal on their mobile devices. (I think pen and paper is best—but hey, to each their own.)
2. Make it a habit.
First thing in the morning or last thing at night are two times that are good journaling. Also when you're in a difficult spot or having a conversation that could go south, take some time, while its fresh, to write out your thoughts.
3. Take it with you.
If you can’t journal at a set time, take the journal with you so when you have a free minute, don’t text or check the latest article here at YourTango (DOH!), write down your thoughts.
4. Review after a period of time.
Set an afternoon to look back over the previous months entries. What patterns do you see, and what can you learn from them? When do you notice you are in a bad mood? What feelings are you expressing about your marriage? What is going well in your relationship?
5. Just Start.
There are lots of ways to journal. Don’t get all up in your head and think you have to be a great writer. Just do it. Get your stuff out on the page. It will help you—no one has to see it but you. Here is a great starter question for you, use it to begin your first journal: Why do I need to journal? Write at least one page. GO!
Do you have a journaling habit? Has it been helpful to you in your life?