Need to save your marriage? Learn to catch each other in the very act of loving kindness.
It’s been at least a week now since you were in full relationship-crisis mode. There have been zero painful criticisms or arguments and no deeply painful emotional shut downs; all thanks to the extraordinary healing power of your "Hurt-Free-Zone."
Your Relationship-Love-Pulse is also improving in a way you never could have imagined just a few short days ago.
You're both starting to see now that: yes, your marriage really can be saved. Your actions over the last number of days are proving that you're both very much cable of changing your relationship behavior in some pretty amazing and lasting ways. And those positive and emotionally healthy changes are actually who you're becoming as a couple.
It's time to add yet one more subtle but powerful layer of positive emotional communication, interaction and connection to your marriage.
As you'll learn in more detail when you read my simple guide to Becoming an Armchair Couple’s Counselor to Save Your Marriage, partners in emotionally healthy life-long marriages have five positive interactions for every one negative one.
John Gottman, the relationship researcher who can predict divorce in couples based on how they communicate with each other in as little as three minutes, calls this the “Magic Relationship Ratio” and he backs it with some serious marriage research.
How can this magic relationship ratio help you save your marriage? Well, when a marriage is spiraling towards divorce, there's no shortage of negative interaction. Criticisms, arguments and intimacy-rejections abound and aggressively feed off of one and other.
You've already stopped the worst of these toxic emotional behaviors in their tracks by setting up your hurt-free-zone. But it's still very normal for real life to be stressful sometimes (i.e. work, money management, parenting, in-laws… etc). So the occasional hurt can inevitably slip into you're hurt-free-zone.
So what do you do? Make positive verbal and emotional interactions a major habit. All that healthy nurturing love energy makes it impossible for the negative to take root so it quickly fizzles out and gets absorbed into the positive energy you generate together.
It’s essential that you focus on creating positive interactions at ever opportunity. You’ve already started this process by granting your partner the 3 Simple Wishes That Will Save Your Marriage. And it’s the same basic idea here too:
The more positive, supportive and complementary things you say and do for your partner, the more positive they will feel about interacting with you every day. And this makes saying and doing positive, supportive and complementary things for you faster and easier for them too.
One my favorite marriage quotes (adapted for the title of this post) is so true:
“A good marriage is a contest of generosity” – Dianne Sawyer
To save and positively transform your marriage for good, you need to get into the habit on frequently catching each other in the very act of kindness. It's contagious!
Pay genuine heart felt complements whenever and where ever you can. Also, do small random acts of kindness. Service a fresh brewed cup of coffee. Do a bit of house work (especially if you’re the husband).
Ask yourself: What can I do right now to let my partner know how much I love them. Say “I love you” often but also say it often with your actions.
This also means that you don’t want to let these kinds of “I love you actions” go unnoticed or un-responded to. When hear and see your partner saying and doing stuff that’s genuinely, positive, loving and supportive: you need to let them know how much you appreciate them and what they're doing for you.
How do you catch someone in the very act of kindness? Simple: Stop for a moment and really think about and feel your response to your partner’s act of generosity. Feel hear the “I love you” in what they’ve said or done.
Describe the behavior and how it makes you feel. Say thank you, flash a genuine smile and some loving eye contact. It only takes a few seconds and you’ve one of those amazing positive interactions John Gottman was talking about to strengthen and protect your marriage.
You’re not heading for a heartbreaking and expensive divorce anymore. You’re now heading right for heart of lifelong healthy couplehood!
Ask Me about developing your own divorce prevention action-plan.