This is a guest blog by someone I have known for nearly 35 years. She is an amazing woman, a best friend, and…MY WIFE, Zerrin Oelze!
Jon Gordon, in his book The Positive Dog, talks about two imaginary dogs within us: one positive and one negative. Gordon explains these two dogs often fight inside us, but the one that wins is the one we feed the most. We have a choice in which dog we are going to feed!
What an interesting parallel to how I walk in my marriage.
Marriage can often feel like a battle ground. The wear and tear of everyday life, work stress, child challenges, bills to pay, and time commitments (or over-commitments) can leave us exhausted and defeated. Andrew Peterson, in his thoughtful song on marriage describes it as “dancing in the minefields.”
It is so easy for me to get negative when I feel overwhelmed in the minefields of marriage. Before I know it I can be spewing negativity and complaints all over my husband. I don’t want to slime him with my negativity. This feeds the negative dog in me and certainly doesn’t help my spouse or our relationship! I daily need to consider which dog I am feeding.
But how do I begin feeding the positive dog?
Brain research indicates that thankfulness and appreciation have a strong effect on us. Gratitude decreases stress and floods the body with natural antidepressants (Gordon, 2012).
To begin with I think of five things I am thankful for. One day my list was simply: clean water, warm water (so I don’t have to take a cold shower), accessible water (so I don’t have to walk two hours to collect it), soap (so I can be clean) and shoes to wear so I don’t have to go barefoot on the hot concrete in summer.
How can I feed the positive dog regarding my marriage relationship?
A woman I respect gives her husband a note each Sunday listing five things she appreciates about him or has especially appreciated that particular week. Her husband has been so positively impacted by this weekly note that he anticipates it each Sunday and asks her for it if she forgets. Our spouses long for affirmation, appreciation and knowing they matter. This feeds the positive dog in both of us and strengthens our marriage.
What can you appreciate about your spouse?
You may be able to find more than five things or you may be struggling to find one. If you are struggling, ask God to help you and then communicate that one thing to your spouse. Each time we appreciate our spouse we feed the positive dog in our marriage.
Which dog are you feeding? It’s chow time!
Question: What do you appreciate in your spouse? Tell us below and start feeding your positive dog! You can leave a comment by clicking here.