Peter Pearson

Sport couple of athletes successHere’s something you can do for your relationship today. It’s called The Daily Double and it's a way of tracking success in your relationship. You earn two points today by doing two positive things on the positive list below, while avoiding doing any of the negative behaviors from the list at the end.

Let’s up the ante and go for the Thirty Day Challenge. Do The Daily Double for 30 days straight. If you slip up and do one of the negative behaviors in the box at the end of this article, start over again at Day 1 until you have 30 consecutive Daily Doubles. Be sure to track your accomplishments every day.

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 and resentment.

So, put this list where you can review it daily. Keep a fresh reminder and do your part to create a better connection.

This simple (but not easy) exercise will definitely 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 of whether or not you do The Daily Double for thirty 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.

Twenty-Four Ways to be Positive

  1. I listened to difficult comments and kept my cool.
  2. I was able to recap what I was hearing in a conversation.
  3. I expressed compassion in a difficult situation.
  4. When I felt I needed to solve a problem, I first asked my partner if they wanted advice.
  5. I used some 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 at least twice today.
  9. I took this further and expressed why I was appreciative of what my partner did.
  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.

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.

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!

Today I practiced 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 I usually take for granted

Today I avoided these negative behaviors:

  • 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


Peter Pearson, Ph.D., Relationship & Teamwork Expert for Entrepreneur Couples

Pete has been training and coaching couples to become a strong team since 1984 when he co-founded The Couples Institute with his psychologist wife, Ellyn Bader.

Their popular book, “Tell Me No Lies,” is about being honest with compassion and growing stronger as a couple.

Pete has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including “The Today Show,” "Good Morning America,” and "CBS Early Morning News,” and quoted in major publications including “The New York Times,” “Oprah Magazine,” “Redbook,” “Cosmopolitan,” and “Business Insider.”

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6 years ago

Thank you. Tips are very good. I want to address the couples. what more tips can I give to them?

Alpha Kobba
Alpha Kobba
5 years ago

I am very appreciative of the precise guiding principles, have learnt a lot and will henceforth be very careful of how to deal with key issues in my marriage relationship. Once more thank you

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.