In my ebook How to Improve Your Marriage Without Therapy, I outline 5 simple, yet effective, practices you and your partner can do to improve your relationship now from the comfort of your own home.
Today I want to talk about the practice of holding up a mirror to your partner’s goodness.
Nothing is as powerful in creating loving, intimate relationships than this practice. This practice, quite simply, requires us to:
Be the voice in our partner’s life that bears witness to their authentic, innate goodness.
It requires us to:
Have courage and openly express our admiration, respect, gratitude, and appreciation for the best qualities in this human being we have chosen to be our partner.
Think about how harsh this world can be. How competitive. How painful. How lonely.
Now think about the power within you to ease the harshness in the world. Yes, you have the power to ease the harshness of the world by starting right where you are and bringing love and encouragement to your partner.
You have the power to bear witness to your partner’s innate goodness and to let them know that you believe in their goodness, you see their goodness, and your life is better because of their goodness.
We are so skilled at protecting ourselves from feeling too vulnerable. We measure our words. We hold back from sharing our emotions. We tell ourselves that to let another know how much we love them or how much they mean to us might not be safe. After all, what if they hurt us? Or disappoint us? Or leave us?
So we protect ourselves by not expressing our love, admiration, respect, gratitude, and appreciation to our partner.
The problem is that if we continue to hide these things from our partner, the relationship can wither and we can create the very thing we are so afraid of: hurt, disappointment, being left.
Or maybe the relationship continues, but we get to the end of our life, and our partner never knows just how much they were loved and valued. They may never know just how much their presence made our life so very lovely and tender and joyful.
They may never know just how much they made the difference for us.
My husband and I met in graduate school. It was an exciting time of learning how to be a therapist coupled with falling in love with each other.
In school, we learned about the masters of therapy and one of the masters, Gregory Bateson, used to say, “Find the difference that makes the difference”.
Meaning, as a therapist, it is our job to discover the intervention for each particular client that will be transformative.
The difference that makes the difference is the unique and distinct quality or action or way of being that has the power to transform something negative into something positive.
Ever since graduate school, I have used this idea as my way to hold up a mirror to my husband and remind him of his goodness.
I tell my husband often that he is “the difference that has made the difference” in my life. That he is the one who has changed my life for the better.
I don’t want to get to the end of our lives and take a chance that he might not know just how much he has influenced my life for the better.
And so, I step into vulnerability, I express my deepest thoughts and feelings, and I share with him that I respect, cherish, and value all that he brings into my life.
I hold up a mirror to his goodness and remind him of who he is, how he makes our home and our life better every day just by being himself.
Do not let another day go by without letting your partner know all the ways they have brought love and light and tenderness into your life.
Hold up a mirror to your partner’s goodness. Let them know that they are the difference that has made a difference for you. Your marriage will thrive because of it.
As always, peace in the journey,