Relationship generosity challenge

Yesterday and today I’ve been editing my chapter on generosity. Overall, the idea I’m trying to convey is that generosity is good for everyone, that it is something we can do regardless of any externalities and that it can be small or big.

As I was journaling this morning thinking about things I’d researched and the things going on in my life, I thought of an idea, a challenge for you if you will. Before we get to that, let’s establish some facts:

  • In a study about generosity and marriage, couples who reported a high amount of generosity in their relationship were five times more likely to say their marriage was “very happy.”
  • Long time marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman can predict whether a couple will get divorced with a 90 percent accuracy rate. In his research, Gottman found that successful couples should ensure a balance of positive interactions over negative ones. For him, that ratio is 5 to 1.  That means couple should say or do five positive things for each negative experience with their partner. I call this building the love bank. We want more positive deposits than negative withdraws.
  • Researcher Dr. Terri Orbuch went so far as to call acts of generosity “marital life insurance policies.”
  • One of the easiest ways get and stay in the positive zone is to practice gratitude.
  • Pastor Steven Furtick says that we stop complimenting things when they become consistent. So, you stop complimenting your toddler on their amazing ability to go potty when they start doing it all the time. Or, you might stop complimenting your friend on her new found workout habit once she’s been doing it for a year. In order to find easy access to gratitude, especially when it comes to our spouses that we can take for granted, is to compliment the consistent.

Alrighty. With all of these brilliant ideas from brilliant people, I have a small challenge for you. I want you to compose a dozen or so emails that show gratitude to your partner. Almost all email providers have a way to schedule things. (If yours doesn’t or you don’t know how to use that feature, compose the emails anyway. Then set an alarm on your phone for the next dozen or so days that is labeled “Send love email” and do it!)

So, I composed five emails and schedule them out for the next dozen or so days. All of the emails say thanks. All of them say thanks for different things. Over the next two work weeks, my husband will get an email that is thanking him for something consistent or, in a few cases, special and recent. By doing so, I’ve systemized these positive interactions we want to ensure there are many of if we want to have a happy marriage. Of course, that cannot stand alone but it is a fun way to be proactively generous to the one you love. Give it a try! How many will you do?


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