Summary of this Episode

 

In this episode of the Generous Marriage Podcast we discuss:

  • The story of Jill and how she was focused on all the ways her emotional needs were not being met by Jack. How a simple gratitude practice transformed her perspective of him and led to a cycle of gratitude and generosity in their marriage.
  • The simple tool of a gratitude log – writing 3 things you are grateful for about your partner every day.
  • Research shows that couples that are grateful of their partner are more resilient in times of stress and conflict and their relationship lasts longer.Amie Gordon from Berkeley found that gratitude can help relationships thrive by promoting a cycle of generosity. That is, one partner’s gratitude can prompt both partners to think and act in ways that convey gratitude to each other and promote commitment to their relationship.

 

More Gratitude Practice Ideas

There are many ways to practice gratitude in your life and in your marriage. We listed some of our favorites in a document for you.

To download the gratitude practices:

It’s Not About The Nail

Here’s a link to the funny video we mentioned in the podcast. Showing the difference between men and women when dealing with problems.

The full transcript of the show:

Welcome to the Generous Marriage Podcast. Fight less, feel appreciated and have a deeper connection with your spouse. And now your host, Shachar Erez and Ziv Raviv.

Hello and welcome to episode two of the generous marriage podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in for yet another episode of that can actually help you have less fights in your marriage, more sex and more connection with your spouse and all of that are good things that you probably want and that is why you’re tuning in and just the fact that you’re listening right now to us that will actually help you develop a more generous marriage together with me is my partner in crime, in investigating all things related to a generous marriage. It’s the one and only the person that actually is my mentor in understanding because you’re the guy that actually understand these topics, Shachar Erez.

Hi Zivi, thank you. I’m so happy to be here. Excited. Thank you everyone who’s listening. I’m really excited to share some of my knowledge with you today. The topic of gratitude will be talking about today is one of my favorites.

So the topic of today is again, gratitude. We’re going to do the same structure every week. You can already identify how we walk, how we think, and how we are trying to share with you a few of the tools that we are exploring and researching on the topic of generous marriage. So the first thing we’ll do is talk about a story about people that actually has a problem. Maybe the view will be able to relate to that specific problem today. And then we will go and talk about the tool which is related to gratitude obviously, and then we’ll even back it up with research. So every week, three things. Let’s start with a story about Jill and how she had some problems in communication in a marriage with her spouse. Take it away. Shachar tell us all about Jill.

The Story of Jill and Jack and the challenge for them

Alright? So I used to see Jill in one on one sessions, not as part of couples therapy, but one of our main challenges, uh, one of the main things she talked about in our session was about Jack, her husband, and mainly about the things he lacked mainly, how he couldn’t provide her needs around emotional intimacy. She wanted him to listen more, to be able to understand her better, to contain her feelings better, he was a great guy, did a lot of stuff for her, but she kept coming back to this point, how he wasn’t there for her. He didn’t see her. She didn’t feel safe. She didn’t feel understood. She didn’t feel loved. She tended to be critical to go to criticism, especially when she was stressed. When she wasn’t happy. Part of our work together, I asked her to write a gratitude journal, meaning three things she’s grateful for everyday we’re just writing down in a notebook or a journal or something.

Three things she’s grateful for everyday. She took on the challenge and quite quickly she applied it to judge. He started writing three things. She was thankful for about him. First, she just wrote it in their notebook, but you know, slowly slowly started sharing it with him, telling him in person or in text messages, just thanking him for things he did for her and for things he was like for his personality, for how generous he was or how, uh, what a great daddy was. You know, just stuff she appreciated the not, not just with her, also with the kids and other people. Just amazing to see the results.

So before we share the results of what happened with Jill and what she experienced after implementing this tool, I want to emphasize a few things. Basically the beginning of Jill’s situation where she started was she was very frustrated. She felt like there was a problem in the connection with her spouse, with Jack. It made her feel frustrated. It made her feel that he doesn’t really see her needs. And there’s this one thing that, that I really love the metaphor and that is like, it’s suffering that I’ve heard, uh, Alison Armstrong talk about it in one for books and that is the notion of holding the bucket. Sometimes you just need to listen. Jill just needed someone to hold the bucket for her when she comes and talks and talks and talks and it just feels this connection where someone that you can actually just listen, just be there and listen.

And there’s a funny video about the nail in the forehead of some lady that talks with her husband and she tries to just get him to listen and he tries to solve her problem and get the nail out of her head. We should put the video, it’s a funny one. It just shows how sometimes the lady just wants to be held. That’s all she needs. And this is really something that I think Jill, she didn’t feel fascinated for no reason. She actually needs it. It’s a part of her being as an individual, as a woman, she needs to be listened it’s is how she feels love. But then Jack wasn’t showing that at that time in the way that she could feel appreciated and held. So what happened after she implemented the gratefulness?

What happened when she implemented gratefulness

Yeah. It was amazing to see the change because this log and you know more than the log, created a change in her, in her perspective of them. And she was able to become less critical of him and seeing more what is. And not just what isn’t, you know, not just saying what’s missing. Also saying the half full, a half cup, that’s full, so that helped her and through that it helped him. He started to feel more appreciated, more valued. Everybody wants to feel more appreciated and valued, especially men and because he felt that it was easier for him to come even closer to her. He was loving and intelligent and the caring guy already, but thanks to this change, it was easier for him to come closer and even provide some of those emotional needs she needed before that because he felt so criticized, you know, it wasn’t very interested. He was scared. It was a scary fields for him to come close to her because it might hurt now that she was able to appreciate him giving points, see him in a much more positive view. He wanted to come closer and just created this awesome feedback loop of positivity, of generosity, of gratitude. Just what everybody’s looking for right?

Yeah and I’ve heard also that when you are positive and optimistic about life, when you’re thankful, it just creates the situation. After it becomes a habit with the gratefulness log that you start to see more positive things. It just like when you just bought a Toyota Prius, suddenly everywhere you go, you see more Toyota Priuses on the street, but when you are starting to practice gratefulness and you’re grateful and you are thankful for stuff in your life, then you will from time to time starts to develop this as a momentum and you will see more things that help you feel thankful and that makes you think thankful and this will create a situation where the people around you also respond. Can you tell me something? Did you tell Jill to write the things that she’s thankful specifically about Jack?

Not really because we weren’t focused on her relationship. She, It kind of happened spontaneously through her. I just thought she was very critical of herself and life and and her spouse and just the critical person in. The antidote to this many times is a gratitude.

It’s so amazing. It’s just the opposite. If you are a critical person and a lot of times women can be critical to their environment in the sense that they see so much stuff, they can actually see stuff that a lot of times we men don’t even see those things, so by knowing that something is wrong and saying that, hey, this needs to be fixed, they are being conceived as critical to the environment and we men, it’s very hard for us to take all of these criticism. It actually creates a distance between men and women and then that distance made jack go away from Jill and that gave her what she needs, but once she started to create this positive loop and bringing in and bring him closer by, being generous with him, by being grateful for the stuff that he does do that made everything work better.

Right? And great in gratitude, you know, part of it is just saying thank you for those little things that we don’t notice anymore for taking out the trash, for taking care of the kids, from going to work, you know, the obvious things that we will do anyway. It’s really great. If we thank each other about them and not take them for granted. Yeah. Another level is appreciating our partner’s personality, you know, not just a thank you for doing this for me. Thank you for being generous. Thank you for being sensitive. Wow. That’s a big one. Yeah. That’s a whole different level of gratitude and appreciation. It’s a whole different level of points we get, you know.

Well, it’s different because it’s not when you’re. When you’re being appreciated about what you do. That’s one level of safety that you feel safe, but when you feeling appreciated by who you are in the world, it’s when you feel loved. Yeah. Yeah. So you need to both actually both. I agree with that. Yeah.

You need to show both. That’s really key. So now we understand Jill, Jill’s story, which is based on a real story. It just, we just changed the names and the story is universal. I imagined the people that are listening right now, they feel the same. Sometimes they want more appreciation.

It’s not just men and women.

It’s not just men and women. Sometimes it’s the opposite, but it’s very common that guys feel criticized by their woman. Yeah. But it happens in same sex couples and sometimes the man is more critical

Of course, when I generalize with men and women, uh, I just do it because it’s easier to get the point across, right? I definitely don’t think that everyone on the same. I had this huge discussion about this with my wife when I tried to tell her about how I see things about what I do as a man in what she does is a woman. She, she was fascinated about me categorizing her into this cubicle of what is a woman and that’s not her. She’s unique and I acknowledge her, every one of you guys are unique. Every one of the ladies in the world and the listeners, of course you guys are unique, but uh, it just, you know, tools are tools that sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. So before we go into,

I would just add another sign that we are unique and there are tendencies, you know, they are tendencies for men to be in some ways and women be some different ways, but these are just tendencies. It’s not that anybody’s wrong if they don’t fall into these tendencies.

The metaphor of Ice Cream

It reminds me the same metaphor we used last week, which was the metaphor of if you are serving ice cream, an ice cream parlor, you will not force someone to eat ice cream that he doesn’t like the flavor. Well, t he same goes with men. All men are like ice cream. Some people just like chocolate ice cream. Some people like vanilla ice cream. Some people like strawberry ice cream. So each flavor, each man is different, but they have some attributes of ice cream the same, so all ice cream melts, all ice cream melts and all men has some characteristics that makes them men and it makes them the same. And of course there’s always rules that are broken by a specific case, but it’s good to know that ice cream melts it. Just good information. It will make you be careful not take the ice cream and just put it in the sun for too long. So knowing how to operate men is something that is good for everyone to know, including our self. Sometimes we don’t even know how to, how to operate it ourselves. So we see these Generous Marriage podcast is all about giving you tools to understand yourself better, to understand your relationship better, and to improve it, to make it more generous. And this tool right now that Jill was using is all about the gratefulness log. Take it away, tell me how do I do it? What are the specifics? How can I make it work for me?

It’s actually really easy. Maybe the easiest practice we’re going to offer it just about writing three things every day you’re grateful for and because we’re hearing about marriage, so it would be great to write three things you are grateful for about your partner, things they do, things they are, small things, big things, things they do regularly and and then you hardly notice them anymore, and also things that are out of the ordinary. Just good. Be Thankful and grateful and I would even add some bonus points. Explain why. If you tell your partner, thank you for doing something for you, explain why that is meaningful for you. Not every time, but sometimes when you can explain the meanings, that adds another layer of intimacy, of shared meaning, that’s also important in a relationship.

How long you should do the challenge of Gratitude

How long do you think they should keep doing this?

So for some reason the research is always, or most of the research is about three weeks, so writing three things for three weeks. That’s good enough. They see brain change, they see changes in the brain after three weeks, but I would say just do it for as long as you’re able to do it. It’s just a great practice forever. As a lifetime practice. It rewires the brain, it changes perspective in a good way. Many people are critical. I’m a critical, I have critical tendencies. I tend to be critical. It’s just so healing for this tendency.

Yeah. I imagine it might be even good for people that has the tendency to be perfectionist. So if you’re perfection you, if you are trying to make everything perfect in your life, you express your opinions about yourself, about life, about things, about business, and that makes it hard for you. So expressing your gratefulness and thankfulness can help you.

Yeah, it actually heals shame and shame is connected to criticism and to blaming others and to being perfectionist, and it’s actually not a great experience. So every time we can heal some of our shame, some of our perfectionism, some of our tendencies to criticize, we become better people. It’s just great to talk later about the research and about all the benefits of it. It’s just amazing.

The research to back this up

Cool. So before we go into the research, I want to emphasize again the bonus points and give another way to look at this log, which is something that I’ve been experimenting with in the last 10 days or so. So I. I have some interesting input on that one. First of all, about the why. This is very important. Take your time with this on explaining why do you feel grateful, because that will actually help you learn more about yourself. So you’re getting value not just by showing someone that you care about them by expressing gratefulness three times a day like logging it, but you also learn so much about what ticks you, what makes you move in the world, what makes you feel like it’s important for you and being grateful will make you. It will change your life. And I wonder, before I go into my bonus points, do you think it matters if this log is private or if you share it with your spouse? What is your take on that Shachar?

Well, they’re both helpful. It’s good enough if you just write it to yourself and not share it with anyone. It’s really great if you share it with your partner. It strengthened this a cycle, this feedback loop of positivity and generosity, and it’s like there’s a, I imagine there’s a cup of gratitude. Then when I’m grateful, I put more gratitude in her cup and the her cup overflows and she puts more gratitude in my cup and my cup overflows. And just great. So much gratitude in the relationship. It’s really great. It’s very good. It’s very generous, right? So it’s good enough to write it to yourself. It’s great if you share it with your partner. I also know people that write it on facebook, which is another great way to share it and create more goodness in the world. People see your gratitude. It might tap into their own gratitude. It’s also another way to do it.

Wonderful. So you can do it either way privately, you can give it as a gift, so instead of giving away the three things that you were gratitude, for that you’re thankful for every single day, you can do that for a week or for three weeks and then put that in a nice binder maybe and give it as a gift for your spouse and explain the that you’ve been through a process you wanted to express the gratitude to her and here is the gift where she can look at three weeks of time in all, all the things that your gratitude for. So I, I love it. Cool. That’s really one of the fun things in this create the creation of the generous marriage podcast is. Well we, we, we do an infusion of ideas that are researched and that work in real practice with marriage for couples. And we combine that with thinking out of the box or with thinking, you know, practical tips on how to make it work for you.

So we’re hoping that you’re enjoying this. And by the way, we will give you some extra information about how to do this tool together with all the links and extra ideas inside the show notes of this podcast. So if you go over to the generous marriage podcast, you’re going to find them some bonus elements of this tool that were not included here today. You need to actually go to generousmarriage.com. Go to the podcast, episode number two, and then simply download this sheet. It will be, she will take you five minutes to look at the pdf to understand, not to feel gratitude for this tool of gratitude. So my final tip, which was something, that I’ve implemented in the last 10 days, and I think it’s really something that you will enjoy hearing that is a tactic about postage notes. So basically what I do for the last 10 days I’ve been experimenting with is it’s really fun.

Every day I take just a regular post it notes. It doesn’t matter what color it is, it doesn’t matter at all. And I write down one post it note for each of my kids in one post it note for my wife. Because one of my kids is four year old, the posting that I write for him is a drawing. I just draw something that he likes. I actually sit down for five or 10 minutes in front of Youtube and I research like how to draw a dinosaur. I don’t know how to draw a dinosaur, but the Youtube tip, just shows me how to do it. So I actually spent 10 or five meaningful minutes that I need for my business, but I spent them on making a gift for little Edan who is four years old and then I do the same for each of my daughters.

What Zivi practices in his relationship

Every day I take just a regular post it notes. It doesn’t matter what color it is, it doesn’t matter at all. And I write down one post it note for each of my kids in one post it note for my wife. Because one of my kids is four year old, the posting that I write for him is a drawing. I just draw something that he likes. I actually sit down for five or 10 minutes in front of Youtube and I research like how to draw a dinosaur. I don’t know how to draw a dinosaur, but the Youtube tip, just shows me how to do it. So I actually spent 10 or five meaningful minutes that I need for my business, but I spent them on making a gift for little Edan who is four years old and then I do the same for each of my daughters.

One of my daughters likes to do exercises. She likes to stand on her hands. She exercises that she does and she’s practicing. It is. So instead of giving her a compliment and saying what I’m grateful for, I just tell her, please show me one of your exercises because that will make her feel that I appreciate her. And the same goes with my wife. I tried to show her that I hear her. I try to show her what I love about her. I tried to show her in my post it notes things that I’m grateful for, so just an act of generosity. We’re giving away one post it note every single day and the results of this is amazing. It just accumulates so when they see that you’re serious about being grateful for them, they become grateful back. So my kid will come to me and we’ll say, today I want these drawing and not that I get way more hugs, way more hugs in the last few days in comparison to before using these small and easy to implement tactic and just yesterday my wife wrote me back a post it note.

I didn’t ask her for the post it note. We didn’t talk about her doing this as well or something, so she felt so much gratitude that just like you said, the cup was overflowing with gratitude. She felt like she needs to go back and do this for me, and she said, how much I actually know. Here’s the. Here’s the actual note. It was even bigger than a post it note. I’m so grateful for her to say that it has the date. I will keep this, I will cherish that, and she says, thank you for all you we do for our family. Thank you for the efforts that you do for every single one of us. I appreciate the notes that you write for me and for our kids. I appreciate the efforts that you put into studying the topic of generous marriage and I want to support you and be a partner in your life. It’s amazing. It is. So these tools guys, it’s worth trying. It’s worth experimenting with those tools that we share. Go to generousmarriage.com, download the bonus section, the bonus, extra information that you were going to be surprised at how it makes everything click. It makes it easier to implement immediately, but I want to know can we really trust this tool? Was this tool researched in any way? Shachar tell us what was the. What is the research condition on this one?

The Gratitude Log

It’s actually very well researched. The gratitude has been a hot topic, I would say, in positive psychology in the last maybe two decades, and there’s plenty of research about the benefits of practicing gratitude and it’s just amazing. They found that people who practice gratitude are healthier. They have stronger immune system. They are less bothered by aches and pains they can tolerate them better. Psychologically speaking, they have higher levels of positive emotions. There are more alert, alive, awake. They feel more joy and pleasure. They’re more optimistic, more happy. It’s just amazing, just to say, you know, most of the research is done by gratitude log of three things a day for three weeks and they find the benefits. Like if you write the log in the morning, you will still feel better in the evening or other benefits. They can notice nine months after they stopped doing the log.

Longterm benefits just by, you know, five minutes a day, three weeks. It’s not even five minutes a day, a minute, a day, three weeks. I think it should be more than three weeks for the research. It needs to be limited, but in life there’s no reason to limit it. You can just enjoy doing it forever and today I want to also share about the specific research that was done on couples. Amy Gordon for University of California Berkeley conducted the research. She’s done a lot of research about gratitude, in this research. I’m going to share now with you and then later on the website she explains the cycle of generosity. She explains how when one partner feels gratitude, the other partner feels valued because they feel valued. It actually makes them appreciate the relationship better and act on it, and this action is not feeling. It actually promotes action, which in exchange for promotes more value and more gratitude than just expense. Really lovely. This cycle of generosity in research, really well done, so it’s worth looking into that. It is important for us that you guys know that those researchers are available or the generousmarriage.com website for you so that you can take a look that you can improve your understanding on the tools. Don’t just take our word on it. Take the word off of many researchers and many, many pieces of proof that can help you feel more confident on what you’re doing. We don’t want you to feel like you’re wasting your time, not by listening and that we’re implementing. So if we find the researchers, it means a lot and it is pretty much proven tactics. The there was, you know, those researchers were done by multiple researchers and specifically by Amy Gordon. She’s been researching this multiple times and in different ways and her insights from the research are astounding. Like if you can get so many benefits from even just three weeks, like I imagine how much harder it is or how much more expensive it is to actually get that done in another way. Like maybe go to a counselor that will be way more expensive than just sitting down with a piece of paper and writing a blog about what you’re grateful for. So you hear it here, you can take action upon it, you can save money and you can get healthier, actually healthier. Yeah, that’s really true.

Or you don’t have to go to a therapist to make a relationship better. And I say that as a therapist, I really believe in couples therapy, but many couples don’t really need therapy and they just need to use some tools and this is really great tool. Low on investment, big on return. It’s really, really great and that’s part of the goal. So this podcast, it is to find those tools, give you the best return on investment. So from your time invested here on listening for time, you invest in energy in, you invest into downloading this instruction sheet. Those two investments in your relationship will yield amazing results and we believe that it is better to do this together. When we listen together to the podcast every week, it just reminds us every single week to go back and be generous and to implement additional easy to implement tools that will help you become more generous. When we’re working together as a group, it creates accountability. It creates the feeling of habit and an actual habit you implemented, and then you get better results. So we need your help guys, we need you to take your time and let someone know about the generous marriage podcast that will create accountability for you as well.

Summary and Ending

You will become more accountable to the process of becoming more generous in your marriage by sharing this maybe for my friend at work, maybe over facebook, maybe just post the link for generousmarriage.com. We will really appreciate that. To summarize what we did today, today we talked about Jack and Jill and Jill was frustrated about her marriage, but after she decided to use appreciation and gratefulness, through the gratitude log, she managed to make a significant change with her relationship with Jack. We also talked about the tool, the gratitude log and Shachar is preparing for you, uh, some really interesting way of how to do it. Even better. So go, you will be able to find it on generousmarriage.com. And we also mentioned the research done by Amy Gordon from Berkeley and the link for that will be waiting for you in the generous marriage website as well. As always. Thank you guys for listening and thank you for sharing all of your insights with us.

Thank you Ziv! This was really fun. I loved your input as well. Thank you everybody who listened. I hope you find this beneficial and use it in real life. See you in the next session.

See you next week or the generous marriage podcast. Bye Bye guys. Bye.

 

Podcast

Weekly episodes with stories, tools and research that will help you make your marriage generous

By

Shachar Erez, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, 12 years married, father of two

Ziv Raviv, 16 years married, father of three