The Little LOVE Challenge

While my husband has been settling into his media fast, I’ve been working on a small 30 day challenge of my own. I’m calling it a love challenge. Rather, a “be patient and kind to your spouse at all times challenge.”

I’ve been married for a little over 9 years. It’s a happy and loving marriage, and we work hard to keep our relationship strong.

But peek into our day to day lives and you’ll encounter a lot of unnecessary negativity. I dwell on small annoyances like dirty dishes, misplaced keys or forgotten errands. I nag and make snarky, passive aggressive comments. He rolls his eyes and snaps back at said snarky, passive aggressive comments.

We never set out to create sour notes in the other person’s day (and we absolutely enjoy many happy exchanges), but it’s hard to be our best selves when the kids are demanding and laundry needs to be folded and the work piles up and someone lost their toy/blanket/phone/credit card.

This is why, for the month of December, I’ve decided to work on improving these every day interactions.

For the past 22 days, I’ve started each morning asking myself what I could do to be a good wife, friend and partner – just for that day. Before I go to bed, I write down something positive or inspiring that my husband did or said in the form of a note to him (i.e. today you took the kids out for a few hours so I could have some time for myself).

It’s a very uplifting exercise. I highly recommend it.

Don’t react, respond

Today I will not be sarcastic. Today I will not be sarcastic. Today I will not be sarcastic, I promise myself one morning. And then, without realizing it, it sneaks out of me:

This exchange from last week might seem insignificant, but it’s a perfect example of the kind of interactions I want to be more conscious of.

“Awesome,” I fire off, thinking only of how his having to depart early for a work trip inconveniences me and my morning. Do I care that he has to wake up at 4am, sit through back to back meetings, and entertain clients for the next 48 hours? Apparently not.

I’ve certainly unleashed more than a few zingers this month, but they’re becoming less frequent. My twice daily practice of intention and reflection has made me more aware of this natural impulse to nag, blame, or express disappointment. And more and more, I’m able to rise above those instinctive reactions and choose healthier responses.

My sister, who joined me on this challenge, agrees. “I feel like we’re nicer to each other. The fact that I’m taking the time every day to reflect on the positive has made a difference,” she said to me yesterday. “I’m going to give my notes to him on Christmas morning.”

What a great idea. I think I’ll do the same.