Recently I’ve been observing how words and actions that cost me so little go really far in strengthening my marriage.
I am a big fan of The Compound Effect. Briefly summarized, the compound effect is the truth that tiny, imperceptible actions over time result in sweeping changes later. Positive or negative habits repeated often will show up in a big way down the road.
I’ve thought about this principle as it relates to health and career success, but what about relationships?
It seems many marriages end with neither party able to pin point when or where exactly they went wrong. One climactic, devastating event rarely causes divorce.
Small daily actions can net huge wins in years to come. In less than 5 minutes a day, we can do easy, seemingly insignificant things that strengthen our marriages.
The trick is that most things that are easy to do are also easy not to do. Flossing, for example. Mike flosses every night. Why don’t I? I am often standing right there, talking to him while he flosses. Somehow, I neglect to do it myself because it’s easy not to.
It’s easy to kiss goodbye in the morning, but it’s just as easy to let time rush you out the door in a hurry. It’s easy to pause for a moment before responding in a moment of frustration, but it’s easier to blurt out an impatient response.
Like most couples, there are chores that I generally do and others that Mike generally does. I take for granted the fact that Mike always takes the recycling bins down, and he always takes Jack out before bed when it’s dark and cold. If I take an extra moment to thank Mike for those things, he feels appreciated. While household chores are always a way to serve your spouse, recognition makes it really feel that way.
If you really want to blow him away, unexpectedly do something he normally does. Mike usually makes coffee in the morning. This morning, I was awake first. We hadn’t washed the coffee pot yesterday, so making coffee entailed first de-assembling our 19 part coffee maker and washing each piece. It’s a loathe task that neither of us enjoy. When Mike got up a little while later to find coffee brewed, the unexpected surprise, though small, made him happy. It set the tone for a day of serving each other, as opposed to days when I wake up cranky and complain-y. And I got to drink delicious coffee, too. :)
Grand gestures and romantic getaways alone, though worthwhile, do not build a satisfying marriage. Taking a moment to appreciate what your spouse does day in and day out, or taking a minor burden off his shoulders costs so very little but means so very much.
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