One of the hardest things about staying in a relationship after hardship, infidelity, or just a long time, is the tendency to focus on the negative aspects about the relationship and our partner. No matter what your circumstances, life contains both small and large struggles and it's hard to see all of the great things about your day to day life amidst the hard aspects. Likewise, it's easy to focus on my husband's tendency to leave crumbs on the counter and drift to the middle of the bed during the night, pushing me to the side. It's harder to focus, like I did in the beginning, on the things that attracted me to him in the first place - the reasons that I love and admire him. My therapist recommended starting a shared note where we each add one to three things a day that we love and admire about each other. It was a scary thought at the beginning - "three things A DAY?! What if I can't think of any? Does that mean we're doomed?!". But once I started, I realized it's much easier than I expected. And like a gratitude journal, I can note the smallest things that I love and admire alongside the bigger more values-driven qualities.
A few of the reasons I love and admire my husband:
- his sense of humor
- his dedication to his job / career
- his discipline about going to the gym
- how people are drawn to him
- how well he tells stories
- his level-headed nature during stressful times