My Marriage is a Mess. Why Look for Gratitude?

“If there were an anti-depressant that worked like gratitude, we would all be on it.” Martha Beck

I received an email from a client who is trying very hard to make her marriage feel good again. She loves her husband and truly does not want to leave, but like many marriages, the decades they’ve spent together have taken their toll. A few days prior I shared a new tool with her and here’s what she had to say about it:

“You offering on the call about inserting three positive thoughts for every negative one about hubby has really been helping with my attitude toward him. I’m noticing all the sweet, thoughtful and caring things he does for me every day and I’m so much more appreciative of him and happy in general.”

Last week, my mentor Martha Beck wrote a blog post about her new Three-to-One Gratitude Practice and I thought it was both simple and brilliant:

  • “Every time something goes wrong for me, I’m going to write down three things that are going right. I’m going to focus on those things until I connect with genuine gratitude.
  • When someone treats me badly, I’m going to notice the next three people who treat me well. I’m going to thank them sincerely for their kindness, even if they’re strangers who think I’m nuts.
  • When parts of my body aren’t working, I’m going to think about three parts that are working. I’m going to thank them personally. Thank you, spleen! I’m so grateful, toenails! You are the best, elbows!”

(Read the whole article here)

So, Why is Looking for Gratitude Worth the Effort?

We don’t have to look far to find real science-based evidence to support the power of gratitude and how it can shift your life experiences.

Secondly, it’s the holidays and it’s faaarrrr more productive right now to focus upon what you do have, rather than what you do not have. “I’m not going to fully enjoy the time I have with my family because it’s not enough time…I wish I could stay longer…”

But the most important reason why now is the time to begin to use this tool in your struggling and disconnected marriage is so that you can ease your own suffering. You do not have to wait for anyone to see your perspective or change their behaviors. You – and you alone – have the ability to feel better and stop suffering simply by making the choice to purposely look for things to be grateful for and focusing there until the feeling of gratitude shows up swirling around your heart-space.

 

WAIT….You Want Me to Lie to Myself and Stick My Head in the Sand?

I will never be the person to tell you to lie to yourself…mostly because it doesn’t work.

But I AM asking you to hold both experiences as equally true and intentionally choose where you want to place your focus so that you’re in greater control of how you feel as you move through the holidays.

  • While it is true that your sister drinks too much at family gatherings, it is also true that she has a beautiful spirit, a kind heart and cares deeply about saving the animals of the planet.
  • While it is true that your husband didn’t come to your rescue when his mother made that snide comment about your cooking, he did kiss you on the cheek, give you a genuine thank you and even winked at you from across the room as though the two of you had a shared secret.
  • While it’s even true that your husband is feeling depressed in his own life right now, once in a while you see that sparkle in his eye when the kids are around, he “fakes it” when family shows up and you respect and admire how he’s been able to pull himself through some incredibly difficult experiences previously in his life (giving you evidence that he might also come through this as well).

 

Whatever you focus upon is going to get bigger in your experience. This is both good news and bad news:

  • If you focus on what’s not working, it will get bigger. It will go so big that you will not be able to avoid it or simply look the other way.
  • And if you focus on what is working and what you feel genuine gratitude for, that also gets bigger.

Universal laws are very consistent that way.