After the glow of the honeymoon wears off, couples often start to find irritating "wrongs" with each other.

Differences of opinion, differences of upbringing and even the differences between males and females can cause unexpected conflict. When we are thrust into a different world (different upbringings automatically become different worlds), we want to change the other person to fit our own perceived reality.

Wanting to change our loved one? What a strange reaction to the person with whom we fell in love - a person we loved just as he or she was!

Stranger still is the time it takes us to deal with those differences. Over weeks, months and even years, these unresolved differences become the foundation for much marital discord.

When I wrote the book I Almost Divorced My Husband but I Went on Strike Instead, I shared what had sustained me in the dark hours of my marriage. Here's my secret.

Early on in my marriage I took a three-by-five recipe card and wrote down all of my husband's good qualities and kept it in my recipe box. I didn't leave anything out. This is a good way to work through your differences while they seem large. Later on, you will laugh at them because they will be so insignificant. As a marriage matures, however, a variety of real problems will cause friction in your marriage - your "appreciation card" will be a lifesaver for those times.

What Do I Put On My Appreciation Card?

Below are some examples of questions about your spouse you will want to answer on your card:

  • Is he a good provider?

  • Is he/she handsome/pretty?

  • Does he/she brush his teeth?

  • Does he/she keep himself clean?

  • Does he/she make you laugh?

  • Is he/she good to your mom?

  • Does he/she (never) miss work?

  • Is he/she a good lover?

  • Does he/she love his/her children?

  • Does he/she keep his/her word?

The card I wrote listed twenty-two attributes about my husband. When we were having a bad day and all I could focus on were negatives (what he was doing wrong or why he was making me so angry), I would pull out that card and quickly realize how lucky I was.

The card helped me to put everything into perspective. My anger may not have been defused immediately, but at least I knew I had a keeper. I still have that card. It's old and tattered from use. Luckily I no longer need to refer to it.

A word of caution: if your husband/wife lacks in any of the above examples, don't put him/her down, but don't blame him/her for not excelling in that area either. Every person has different attributes. Consider your own. Don't leave out any of his/her good qualities, even small positives such as he/she shuts the door behind him/her.

Make your own appreciation card you can use to remind you why you fell for your spouse when differences get in the way. It's simple, takes very little time and can carry you through the difficult periods we all encounter in marriage.

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