We don’t know where your relationship is, and we take nothing for granted. You may be in an “ok” to “decent” place, or you might be REALLY struggling. No matter where you are, here’s something you’re going to hear us say a lot:

The small stuff matters.

Marital research has shown that ‘small wins’… often… can make or break a relationship over time.

Here’s an example of the power of small wins from the world of sports:

    “There are only 312 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. To be inducted, as a hitter, you have to bat an average of .302. That means for every at bat, over the course of a season, you get a hit 30% of the time. But here’s the thing: The average major leaguer bats .271, which means that for every at bat, they get a hit 27% of the time. Over the course of a season of 162 games, the difference between being in the middle of the pack and the best of the best is just 18 hits per year, or one more hit every 17 games! The Hall of Famers studied, practiced, and worked over time to get that smallest of advantages to get just one extra hit every 17 games. Their results are the difference between mediocrity and immortality. – James Citrin

So before MARRIAGE in MOTION begins, here’s some ideas to start practicing a few ‘small wins’ of your own.

Be sure to notice what comes up as you practice these. And remember, practice doesn’t make perfect… it makes permanent. So try a few practical, actionable, simple steps that can help you gain small wins right now.

#1 Daily Affirmations

Set a cell phone alarm to alert you Monday – Friday at 1:32 pm. When this alarm goes off, immediately send a text message to your partner that starts the same way each day…”The thing I love about you today is…” Sending your partner daily affirmations helps to build your emotional bank account so that when you hit a rough patch in your relationship, you have a surplus to draw from.

#2 Go to Bed at the Same Time

Pillow talk isn’t just reserved for conversations after sex. A line of research done on pillow talk has revolved around the hormone known as oxytocin; this “bonding hormone” is related to other effects, such as decreasing stress, decreasing perceptions of social threat, increasing bonding, and increasing the ability to read emotional cues. Use this time before bedtime to connect and draw closer to one another.

#3 Mystery Date

Take turns planning and executing a mystery date for your partner. Once a month, go BIG. Plan a special date for your partner and keep the details a secret. Make sure your date has thrilling and exciting elements that are guaranteed to blow your partner’s socks off. Remember, this date is intended to be FOR your partner, so be sure to plan something you know they will enjoy. Switch roles next month and let your partner sweep you off your feet.

#4 Ask Open-Ended Questions

The art of great conversation begins with asking open-ended questions. Believe it or not, you still have something to learn about your partner and it begins with asking questions that begs an answer, and that reaches into the soul of your partner. Try these open-ended questions on for size:

– What is your biggest dream not yet realized?

– What is your proudest moment?

– What legacy do you want to leave behind? What legacy do you want “us” to leave behind?

#5 Cell Phone Purgatory

Whether a cell phone, tablet, or laptop… talk about and establish device etiquette in your relationship. Recognize when you have sacred time together as a couple and put the cell phones on silent and out of sight. Send the message to your partner that he/she is the one who is important to you right now.

#6 What Can I Do For You?

Each morning before you leave your partner, ask them this one question: “What one thing can I do today to make your day better?” Hearing your partner’s needs and following through with a request builds trust in the relationship AND puts deposits in your emotional bank account.

#7 Watch Your Mouth

Nobody is immune to a slip of the tongue from time to time. Words are powerful and have the ability to hurt. If you could remove two phrases from your vocabulary today, let it be these: “You always” and “You never”. Those two phrases are guaranteed to put your partner on the defense..and they simply aren’t true.

#8 Just Say “Yes!”

Be on the lookout for opportunities to say “Yes!” to your partner. Do you mind folding the laundry while you watch the football game? Can we get a babysitter and go see the latest super-hero movie this weekend? Can you rub my feet? Can you leave work early tomorrow to pick the kids up from school? Listen for your partner’s requests and make your knee jerk reaction be to meet their needs and say an enthusiastic “YES!”

#9 Hold Hands

You have two hands for a reason. Reach out and hold your partner’s hand whenever possible. Touch plays a crucial role in generating and enhancing love. People feel more satisfied in a relationship in which physical affection is a significant part.

#10 Say Thank You — Often!

We all want to feel seen for our contributions..no matter how small. Mind your manners and say “Thank You” often. “Thank you for making the coffee this morning”. “Thank you for being taking the kids to the park.” “Thank you for depositing the checks this afternoon.” Be alert and scan your environment for the positives.