All marriages have highs and lows, and, believe it or not, praise has got a lot to do with it.
They all slip into doldrums, where both partners are on automatic. During these times, it’s as if the couple goes to sleep when it comes to their partnership.
Basically, they are working in the marriage rather than on the marriage. When this happens, when we go a little unconscious, we tend to stop praising, and our words may even come across as a little critical from time to time.
Maybe Just A Little Critical?
When you were at the “in love” phase, you had nothing but good things to say about one another. Everything was all good-natured and fun-loving.
As the relationship develops and you both started focusing more on your work, kids, household and less on each other, what once were loving quips now become a little more sensitive for the other person.
It starts out as little jokes about the other person like “you are so “smart” putting the cheese in the vegetable drawer, haha”
Maybe you even laugh together about this, but the receiver feels a little hurt under it all.
Then it devolves into snarky remarks that have a real edge. Remarks about little things that have become hot spots in the relationship for one reason or another:
“It doesn’t take a genius to put the seat down when you’re done…”
This goes on until caring communication starts to shut down and you slip more and more into parallel lives syndrome (PLS).
Parallel Lives Syndrome (PLS)
PLS is the opposite of an intimate and loving partnership and it’s something of a plague. The symptoms are:
- Taking one another for granted
- Not talking much at meals
- Less physical intimacy
- Focus on personal fulfillment at work
- Snarky remarks/sarcasm
- Focusing more on tasks than each other
- Reduced trust
- Wondering who you are married to, like what happened?
People can go on for years in PLS, raising their kids, taking vacations (focused on the kids), and then one day their kids leave the nest and they get divorced as they find they have nothing in common anymore.
Breaking out of PLS takes consistent working on the marriage by at least one partner if not both.
Think of it as if someone has cast a sleeping spell on the two of you and you are the first to break the spell.
You wake up and realize your marriage may fall apart unless you are both awake and engaged.
Waking THEM Up With Praise
The first step to waking your partner up is to break the pattern of sleepy negativity.
Positive words will inspire you as well as them. Sit down and make a list of things you appreciate about your partner.
Next look for opportunities to acknowledge them. Start out doing it at the end of the day. It might be as simple as
“that was a great meal, your a good cook”
“Thanks for ordering out, I appreciate your follow-through”
Next work on doing it twice a day, in the morning and the evening. This may not be easy, think of it as creating a new habit for yourself.
You may even want to set calendar reminders in the beginning.
The Impact Of Praise
The first person this will impact is YOU. You will start appreciating your partner more because you are now actively looking for what they are doing right instead of unconsciously picking at them.
When you have an urge to make a quip you will notice and most likely will edit that out.
It is not unusual to also start taking their inventory wondering why they are so snarky with you. You may wish they would praise you or reward you for praising them.
Let all that go. If you stay on this path even that will diminish.
The impact on them will depend on if this is their love language. If words of affirmation are their love language, they will languish in your praise.
If not, they will note the change and may even ask you why you are doing it. Simply tell them the truth. This is your chance to invite them to join you in reinvigorating your marriage.
This is just the beginning. Keep your praise going, don’t let it drop off.
Make it a habit. It takes 30 days to establish a habit and 90 to really have it set in as a part of your daily life.
Really what you are doing is transforming the tone of your communication from unconscious to caring communication.
Caring communication is the first step towards rebuilding intimacy in your relationship. From here, you will work on empathy and building trust.