How a secret from the British navy can pleasantly strengthen your marriage. Really. By Peter Pearson

How a secret from the British navy can pleasantly strengthen your marriage. Really.  

The British Navy dominated the oceans for hundreds of years.  What was their secret?

 They cleaned and did maintenance on the hulls of their ships. Their enemies took little care of theirs.

 The British sailors removed barnacles, seaweed, and saltwater clams.

 Salt-water clams were a scourge to wooden ships. Clams dug into the hulls and turned them into honeycombs. A ship riddled with these became a floating coffin over time. The ship would constantly leak and could break apart even in small storms.

 An unclean hull would drag tons of shells and hundreds of yards of seaweed. This debris could cut a ship’s speed in half – a severe disadvantage in battle.

 Keeping the bottom of the boat smooth gave them a critical advantage – a ship that traveled quickly to battle stations.

 It took a lot of work to clean a hull.  But the navy did it and stayed strong. You see where this is going. Don’t you? Regular maintenance of your marriage is worth the effort.

 What does this mean for you? It means doing something you were good at when you first got together.

 Expressing heartfelt appreciation, caring, interest, validating, loving curiosity and physical connection.

Then what happened? Slowly the positive strokes began to evaporate. And the negatives began to make their appearance.

The negatives can accumulate like barnacles. Fifty percent of all marriages ignore the maintenance, and their marital ships go to the bottom of the sea.

I suggest an exercise called the Daily Double. It’s a good way to begin clearing the hull of marital debris. It can shine a light on the beauty that may be in the shadows. And strengthen your marital team.

Twice a day, do or say something that will make your partner feel loved, valued, and appreciated. It takes effort but will keep your marital ship afloat for smoother sailing.

I call this the Daily Double. It’s a way of tracking success in your relationship.

Let’s up the ante and go for the Daily Double Two Week Challenge. Do the Daily Double for 14 consecutive days. If you slip up start over again at Day 1 until you have 14 consecutive Daily Doubles.

Why do this practice? Your brain cannot be appreciative and simultaneously be angry, fearful, or resentful. It’s like trying to breathe in and out at the same time – you can’t do it.

The more you practice being appreciative and take positive action, the more you crowd out fear, resentment, distance, and aloneness.

So, put this list where you can review it daily. Keep a fresh reminder and do your part to create a better connection. Tracking your accomplishments every day will keep you focused on this exercise.

This simple (but not easy) exercise will make a positive impact on your connection with each other. This is the marriage equivalent of an out of shape person getting into shape. It won’t happen without effort!

Even better, you are the one in control if you do The Daily Double for fourteen days. You can’t blame your partner if you don’t do it. Actually, you can blame your partner, but it’s you opting out.

Here are a few positive examples to get you started

  1. I listened to difficult comments and kept my cool.

  2. I recapped what I heard during a conversation.

  3. I expressed compassion in a difficult situation.

  4. When I needed to solve a problem my partner was struggling with, I first asked if they wanted advice.

  5. I used appropriate humor, which my partner appreciated.

  6. I asked several questions before butting in with my reactions.

  7. I took several relaxing breaths instead of negatively commenting on an annoying habit.

  8. I expressed appreciation over what my partner did or said.

  9. I took this further and expressed why I was appreciative of what my partner did. (Saying why you appreciate something let’s your partner know more about you. It’s hard to overestimate how important this is.)

  10. I took a time out to stop a downward spiraling argument.

  11. I apologized for my part in a bad situation or conversation.

  12. I went out of my way to do something nice for my partner.

  13. I had kind and loving thoughts about my partner today.

  14. When I had negative thoughts about my partner, I shifted to thinking of what I appreciated.

  15. I emailed my partner at least one appreciation today.

  16. I texted my partner at least one appreciation today.

  17. I said both “please” and “thank you” today.

  18. I made better eye contact today.

  19. I kept my voice tone positive during a difficult discussion.

  20. I told my partner how I would like them to respond to me before talking about a difficult topic. For example, “I just want you to listen with concern. No advice needed, just support.”

  21. I looked for something positive in my partner today then expressed it.

  22. I asked a series of questions about my partner’s perspectives and reality. I genuinely was curious.

  23. I took the initiative doing something I know my partner would value.

  24. I expressed empathy for my partner’s feelings or experience.

  25. I practiced being more:

  26. Generous

  27. Supportive

  28. Understanding vs. pushing my perspective

  29. Grateful for things I usually take for granted

  30. Caring

Important note: Think about how you aspire to be before having a difficult discussion. For example, be curious about your partner’s perspective, be patient, be calm, be assertive, be concise, be considerate, be understanding, etc.

Focusing on how you aspire to be is an exceptionally good way to have better discussions immediately. It helps you from retreating into fight or flight mode. This is a powerful communication technique if you are motivated to communicate better.

If you do something positive today that’s not on the list, write it down and count it – and congratulate yourself. You’re tracking your success!

Some negative examples to avoid:

  • Sarcasm

  • Cold shoulders

  • Saying “never”

  • Interrupting

  • Name-calling

  • Blaming/accusing

  • Guilting and shaming

  • Being resentfully compliant

  • Raising my voice inappropriately

  • Being vague about what I wanted

  • Criticizing what my partner wanted

  • Changing the topic during a difficult discussion

  • Asking blaming questions like, “Why do you always…?”

  • Psychoanalyzing my partner during a difficult discussion

  • Pouting

  • Withdrawing

  • Acting like a victim

I believe this exercise is especially important for network marketing couples. When one (or both) are in network marketing, it requires even better communications skills to meet the new demands of additional roles and responsibilities.

Doing the Daily Double creates a cushion of goodwill that can make other communications go easier.

Cleaning the marital hull of accumulated barnacles, getting daily appreciations for what you do and contribute, creating a stronger marital team. Sounds like a pleasant way to strengthen your marriage.

What do you think?

Peter Pearson

Peter Pearson

Peter Pearson. Ph.D. is a psychologist who has specialized in working with couples for 35 years. He has been a distributor and trainer of network marketers. He has been interviewed in major national media of television, newspapers, magazines, and radio about building strong marriages.
Peter Pearson


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