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Recently I wrote a blog post about John Gottman and the 5:1 rule. The take-home message was this: successful marriage or dating relationships had a ratio of at least 5 positive interactions for each negative interaction.

5:1 is Hard

Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to keep up this ratio. If you are like most people, you probably sometimes get stressed out and lose your temper, even with the people you love the most. Also, you might occasionally do something selfish, and disregard the needs and wants of your partner. Furthermore, most couples tend get busy and take their partners for granted, so it is difficult to keep up the positive interactions. Date nights, cards, and flowers become less common. Consistently building into a relationship takes a lot of work!

One Affirmation Per Day

In this blog, I want to talk about one simple practice you can do every day to show you value your partner. Here is the practice: Every day, give your partner one affirmation. Giving an affirmation means you tell your partner something about them that you value and appreciate. Here are some guidelines for good affirmations:

  1. Make your affirmation something that is true about your partner right now. The affirmation needs to be something that is currently true about your partner. Sometimes people try to give an affirmation, but it inadvertently comes across as an put-down, because the affirmation is about something that could be true about the partner (e.g., if the partner changed this or that, if the partner worked harder, if the partner got their act together, etc.). Don’t make this mistake! Make the affirmation something you see in your partner right now.
  2. Vary the content and delivery of your affirmations. Don’t do the same thing over and over again. Stretch yourself to think about all the different things you appreciate and value about your partner. This practice might even cause you to remember great things about your partner you have forgotten. Also, vary the delivery of your affirmations. Call. Text. E-mail. Write a handwritten note. Deliver flowers or candy. Hire a messenger. Be creative!
  3. Give one affirmation every day. What is it about the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” that rings so true for us? I think there is a deep truth here we need to understand: Small, consistent efforts in the direction of our goals lead to success. Be consistent, and reap the benefits.
  4. Schedule it in at first. Research shows it takes about 66 days for something new to become a habit. Any time you try to change something, it is difficult at first. It doesn’t feel natural. The same thing will be true for trying to give your partner one affirmation every day. At first, you may need to put a reminder into your schedule or IPhone. It might feel forced at first. That’s okay. Keep at it. Your relationship will thank you.

Action Step: Right now, think of one affirmation for your romantic partner. Write it down, and text the affirmation to your significant other. Make a commitment to give your partner one affirmation per day for the next week.