1.1 The Skill


There is one aspect of our marriage groups that has been a constant throughout the three decades we have been leading them. We reserve ten minutes for each couple to go off privately and appreciate each other. For five minutes the first person finishes this phrase with as many examples as they can think of. No response is necessary from the person being appreciated. Just let it soak in. Then the other person takes a turn. Almost without exception everyone comes back to the group feeling more connected, calmer and ready to be present as a couple, regardless of how stressed and irritated they may have felt when they first walked in the door. If you have trouble thinking of things you appreciate about your partner, try some of these phrases....

  • Something you did recently for me that I appreciate is...
  • Something you did long ago for me that I appreciate is....
  • Something you do regularly for me that I appreciate is...
  • A spiritual quality that you have that I appreciate is...
  • Something about your looks that I appreciate is...
  • Something you do for others that I appreciate is...
  • Something that you have worked hard at that I appreciate is...
  • Something that you have a gift for that I appreciate is...
  • Something that I appreciate you not doing is...
  • Something you did with other people that I appreciate is...
  • Something that you do all by yourself that I appreciate is...
  • Something in your character that I appreciate is...
  • A quality that you have that I am lacking that I appreciate is...
  • Something that you said to me that I appreciate is...
  • Something I told you before that I still appreciate is...




People who have goodwill hardly notice the evil in another person, but instead notice all his or her good and true qualities, and they put a good interpretation on the bad and wrong things. All angels are like this. It is something they have from the Lord, who bends everything bad into something good. – Secrets of Heaven 1079
In the case of people who are in a state of true married love, their happiness in living together increases... because they love each other with every power of sensation. The wife sees nothing more lovable than her husband and the husband nothing more lovable than her. Indeed, neither do they hear, smell or touch anything more lovable than each other. From this comes their happiness in living together and sharing house, bedroom and bed. – Married Love 213

1.3 The Story

Something Good

It takes a trained eye to spy something good.

A sloppy gaze can easily find the broken, annoying, worn out things. Noticing the ache in your shoulders comes easily. Awareness of your pain free joints does not. Who starts a conversation with what is working well?
"Hey, my car started this morning!"
"Our teenage son was friendly at dinner."
"My husband came home last night after work!"
Yet those circumstances are part of our experience too. It takes effort to see them, to acknowledge them and to be grateful for them.
One of the regular parts of the marriage group we lead is called "Brag Time." In it, we invite people to tell the gang something they love about their spouse. It is sweeter than candy but withour the calories. I have noticed that some couples cannot muster the words to appreciate this person beside them. I can almost see their gratitude door rusted shut. They listen for the first few weeks, as others tell stories about how their partner let them sleep in, or built a new fence, or took the cranky kids to the park.
Then, like the Tin Man, the oil of love and a little motion creaks it open, and they too have a new heart.
Sometimes people arrive at marriage group in a fractious condition. They have spent the better part of the day chasing toddlers, or placating customers. But here they are now in a comfortable chair, with the person they eagerly chose to spend the rest of their life with. Then after a few minutes of listening to the everyday kindnesses of other ordinary marriages, they smile. The stress of the commute loses its grip. There is room for contentment, even more when they push aside the cobwebby complaints.
What person starts a conversation with what is working well? A trained one.

1.4 Activity with Your Children

Make a list that you add to each day of things you are grateful for. Include what you love about your children and also your spouse. Children are deeply nourished by this. They can learn the skill of gratitude as easily as they learn spelling or hitting a baseball. Who better to teach them than you?


1.5 Prayer

Dear Lord,

We are grateful for the gift of marriage. It is easy to stop noticing the miracle of your blessings each day. Sometimes it is only when they are gone for awhile that we remeber their incredible worth. Thank you for health, for companionship, for fidelity, for laughter, for shared goals. Thank you too for those times they are absent long enough for us to remember their value and cherish them again.



1.6 Ideas

There is a wonderful You Tube called Validation that you can watch together.



There is also one of a dance from the Marriage Conference in 2009. It is in You Tube under The Luckiest Dance