What’s Missing In Marriage?
By: Kathy
December 5, 2014

What is a common missing ingredient in the couples that frequent my office? It is present in the beginning of a relationship. We heap it on and lavish our new love with it. Then, as our time together lengthens, it begins to fade and, in fact, morphs into it’s ugly polar opposite. What is a missing ingredient in many marriages? . . . Praise.

praiseThink about when you first met your spouse. You admired them, you adored them, you thought they were amazing. That is why you wanted more of them! You no doubt confessed your observations to your love and were regularly in tune with what they did right and the positive qualities that attracted you to them. As time wears on, however, the “special” doesn’t get as much attention and we begin to focus on the negative instead. Not as enamored with the negative traits, we voice our displeasure and become disenchanted with our once-perfect specimen. We complain. We nag. We criticize. Or worse, we silently steam about how we were duped by our partner.

This is a common trend, and it is an ugly one. It is a marriage killer, or at least a happiness killer for folks who stay married. I call the negative stream that rolls around in our head about our spouse a poison that slowly eats away at our love for them.  The praise exists no more.

101waystopraiseachildI uncovered recently a framed wall hanging called “101 Ways To Praise A Child”. I remember when I first saw it and how moved I was by it. Children desperately need praise as they will hear plenty of negative in their lives. They need heaping amounts of praise from their parents and family to counteract the soul-sucking criticism they will face from a cruel world. But when we become adults, we still need it.

What if you made a practice of praising your spouse? What if you made a conscious effort to notice their positive qualities instead of their negative ones? What if you quelled the negative talk about your spouse in your head and replaced it with positive? It is amazing what adding this one little ingredient back into a relationship can do.
So you may be thinking, “What happens to the negative, then?” True, the negative doesn’t just get crowded out by the positive. And, in truth, you may struggle greatly to come up with some positives if you’ve been in the downward spiral for awhile. But by focusing on the positive, the negative may not feel so intense, so game-ending, or so life-sucking. And you may just find that by adding back the missing ingredient, praise, that your spouse is a teensy bit more willing to work on their not-so-redeeming qualities!

I encourage you to give it a try and see how your loved one responds. Here are a few to start with . . .

“Aren’t you smart?!”

“Wow! That was impressive!”

“I so appreciate you doing that!”

“You are pretty/handsome!”

“I love you.”

And my all time favorite . . .  A smile is worth 1,000 words.