Pete and Ellyn

Sport couple of athletes successHere’s something you can do for your relationship today. It’s called The Daily Double 30-Day Challenge. Twice a day – for 30 consecutive days – say or do something that communicates to your partner that you love, value or appreciate them.

It can be as simple as:

  • Telling them how attractive they look in an outfit
  • Sending a loving or playful text message
  • Picking up your clutter before going to bed
  • Cooking a special meal
  • Giving them time to go do something that is rejuvenating
  • Washing their car or put gas in it
  • Giving a foot or back massage
  • Doing the dishes one night if that is not your regular job
  • Giving a compliment to them in front of other people (this is very powerful)
  • Being punctual one time if that is not your habit

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.

Other Ways to Be Positive:

  1. Listen to difficult comments and keep your cool.
  2. Recap what you are hearing in a conversation and help slow things down to a more manageable pace.
  3. Express compassion in a difficult situation.
  4. When you feel like you need to solve a problem, first ask your partner if they want advice.
  5. Use appropriate humor that your partner will appreciate.
  6. Ask several questions before butting in with your reactions to something that is hard to hear.
  7. Take several relaxing breaths instead of negatively commenting on your partner's annoying habit.
  8. Express appreciation and why you are appreciative. Send it in an email or a text.
  9. Take a time out instead of continuing a downward spiral argument.
  10. Apologize for your part in a bad situation or conversation.
  11. Go out of your way to do something nice for your partner.
  12. Channel kind and loving thoughts about your partner today.
  13. When you have a negative thought about your partner, shift to thinking about what you appreciate.
  14. Say both “please” and “thank you” today.
  15. Make better eye contact.
  16. Keep your voice tone positive during a difficult discussion.
  17. Tell your partner how you would like them to respond to you before talking about a difficult topic. For example, “I just want you to listen with concern. No advice needed, just support.”
  18. Look for something positive in your partner today and then express it.
  19. Ask questions about your partner’s perspectives and reality.
  20. Take the initiative to do something you know your partner would value (that you don't usually take the initiative to do).
  21. Think about how you aspire to be before having a difficult discussion, for example, to 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 immediately have better discussions.)
  22. Today, practice being:
  • Affectionate
  • Kind
  • Generous
  • Supportive
  • Caring
  • Curious and asking good questions vs telling or preaching
  • Understanding vs pushing my perspective
  • Thoughtful and considerate
  • Grateful for things you usually take for granted

If you do something positive today that’s not on the list, write it down and count it – and congratulate yourself.

And don't forget to download your 30-Day Challenge calendar here. You can check off days as you progress and even record the things you do.


What positive actions are working for you? Do you have ideas in addition to the ones above? Add your experience to the comments below.





Peter Pearson, PhD, and his wife Dr. Ellyn Bader, PhD, founded The Couples Institute in 1984. Dr. Ellyn Bader is psychologists and director of the couples institute of the Institute and continually receive industry and media attention for their innovations in couples therapy.

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4 years ago

I’ve found that texting has been a great way for my husband and me to stay connected and appreciate each other. Texting can include fun pictures or links that show how we’re thinking of the other or our daughter. Also it doesn’t demand an immediate response and it creates a fun record to look back on. It can also reduce tension when face to face words/feelings can’t.

4 years ago

Because of the Daily Double, I started focusing on acknowledging things that my husband does regularly for me and my daughters. This recognition really has fostered more appreciation and admiration for him. I was taking for granted all that he does in a day to help our family work well. Now that I am recognizing these things verbally to him, I am noticing them more and more.

Sue Diamond Potts
Sue Diamond Potts
4 years ago

This exercise really is as profound as Pete & Ellyn claim it to be. I found my overall perspective of my husband brightening up, as I began to focus on what I could do for him, rather than focusing on what he’s not doing for me. I’m the kind of person who is quick to see what’s wrong, rather than what is going well. This practice, over time, made it possible for me to have a lasting change in terms of how much I appreciate Bob and all that he does and all that he is. I find myself spontaneously expressing my appreciation for him now, doing little things for him that I wouldn’t have before and generally just loving him more. I recommend this to all couples who have the courage to change.

Nancy St. John
Nancy St. John
4 years ago

Just reading through the guidelines for the Daily Double helped me to realize how many acts of kindness my husband already does. David travels for work and I had been letting myself off the hook, not putting much effort into maintaining our connection on the evenings he’s away – and the scary thing is I could put forward a good case for how busy I am to justify my distancing. At times it takes a real effort for me to step off the treadmill and get curious about how his day has been but the payoff is the sense of fulfillment I get from living in line with my values.

2 months ago

I found it helpful to ask him what his love language is and do things that speak out of that love language. He appreacites it and sees it more clearly as the love he is looking for and it gets me in the habit of speaking in his love language, rather than the ones that come naturally to me

A Glossary of Terms that are sometimes Confusing

Couples Therapy is a counseling procedure that seeks to improve the adjustment of two people who have created an interdependent relationship. There are no standard procedures to help two people improve their adjustments to each other. Generally, a more experienced therapist will offer more perspectives and tools to a couple. Length of treatment will depend on severity of problems, motivation and skills of the therapist. A couple can be dating, living together, married or separating and may be gay, lesbian or heterosexual.

Marriage Therapy is a term often used interchangeably with marriage counseling. The term marriage implies two people have created a union sanctioned by a government or religious institution. The methods used in marriage counseling, marriage therapy and couples therapy are interchangeable and depend more on the specific challenges of each unique couple.

Psychotherapy is one or more processes to help improve psychological and emotional functioning. Examples are psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis, Rational-Emotive therapy, or group therapy. Many forms of psychotherapy are blends of different approaches. For example, newer forms of psychotherapy called energy psychology draw upon recent advances in brain and neuroscience. These approaches often build on cognitive behavioral methods.

Clinical Psychologist. After graduating from college, it usually takes about five years of graduate school to get a Ph.D. in Psycholgy. It then requires an additional two years of supervision and passing a written (and often) an oral exam. There are a few states that allow psychologists to prescribe medications (with additional training) but that is uncommon.

Psychiatrist. After graduation from medical school, there is a generally a 4-year psychiatric residency. After the completion of this training, psychiatrists must pass an exam issued by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to obtain certification and legally practice in the field. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications.

Clinical Social Worker. This profession usually requires two years of study after obtaining an undergraduate degree. While specific licensure requirements vary by state, most require clinical social workers to obtain 3,000 hours or 2 years of supervised clinical experience, after obtaining a Masters degree. Social workers can also specialize in diverse fields such as human services management, social welfare analysis, community organizing, social and community development, and social and political research.

Marriage and Family Therapist. Obtaining this license requires a Masters degree which takes approximately two years of post graduate study. The license also requires 3000 hours of supervised work and passing written exams.

The Couples Institute. We have assembled a group of top notch therapists at The Couples Institute. Whatever marriage help or marriage advice you are looking for, we are here to serve you. While most other therapists see only a few couples a week, we specialize in marriage and couples relationships, working to develop and bring you the most current and effective approaches to couples therapy. For more information about couples therapy or marriage counseling, see our couples therapy section.