I tentatively climbed the stairs of the high diving board, trying to build up my courage with each ascending step. As I reached the top, I positioned myself perfectly to begin my approach—but then my body froze with fear. My challenge: 1½ somersaults with two twists, my first time, as a freshman in high school from the high diving board. My stomach was churning like a lawnmower blade devouring tall grass. However, my fear did not win me any sympathy. My diving coach, an Olympic diver himself, would only say, "Here's a quarter. Go call someone who cares."
One, two, three steps ... and off the end of the board I leaped. As my hips jolted quickly upward, my head shot down sharply, with my arm wrapping around my body like tight cellophane. Round and round I spun. Losing myself in the rapid movement, I realized that I had closed my eyes—a small but unwise action. In seconds, my body splattered on the surface of the water, which felt remarkably like the cement sidewalk surrounding the pool.
This was the day I discovered the power of leverage. I had underestimated the positioning of my head! The top of my back stung wildly while my coach explained what I did incorrectly. "Your head controls 80% of your weight in a dive. Get back up there and do it again," he ordered.
The Power of Leverage in Marriage
Many times the smallest actions can have the most radical effects and infuse more love into your marriage—or not!
So how do we use leverage in our relationship and marriage? It is not necessarily the big sweeps of romantic love that count the most. Learning how to use the power of daily habits and the small, but pivotal responses to build a healthy relationship is critical. Knowing how to transform our limited time together with quality while creating a meaningful and fun connection is also vital.
Small Actions that Create Trust, Closeness and Love
- When we least feel like it, we can respond with encouragement and support.
- When our spouse acts disrespectful because he or she is having a frustrating day, we can refrain from reacting sharply.
- When we feel hurt by some thoughtless act, we can tell our partner how we feel without making them feel wrong or bad.
- When he or she returns home from work, greeting them lovingly can turn a harried day into a refreshing evening.
- When your partner is doing something that annoys you, instead of snapping at them, go over and lovingly stroke their face or kiss them and ask for them to stop.
The accumulative effect of these slight shifts in your behavior is like when I turned my head slightly in my dive. They amount to 80% of the results.
Unfortunately, we think that things should be complex to work. We imagine that there must be something gravely wrong with the compatibility in our relationship—instead of just being kinder. And in our culture we tend to minimize small actions. We somehow think we need a 10-day romantic vacation in Hawaii to renew our love—instead, seek to create that feeling in everyday life.
A key to nurturing love is timing, not size. Timing creates leverage.
Doesn't a single rose mean more when you're surprised by your husband for no special reason than when you get a dozen roses on Valentine's Day? Doesn't a compassionate response when you're upset mean more than your spouse saying "I love you" a dozen times a day? Or what about your husband's gentle kiss when you don't at all feel like you deserve it, or your wife's sending you in to watch the football game instead of asking for help with the dishes?
Small Is Big
Just as my head turning incorrectly had such a disastrous effect on my dive years ago, so it is in relationship. A lot of small but careless actions can be devastating in a relationship. Yet, small, loving deposits in your spouse's emotional bank account create great dividends.
Sure, it's easy to get off track. Our attention can go a thousand different ways in just a day: unpaid bills, a yard needing a good manicure, stress at work, a friend needing consoling, undone dishes, kids bugging you for a ride, emails filling up your inbox, a sister who just got divorced calling for support—and on and on and on.
That's why small is big. In our hectic and demanding lives, it is actually comforting to know that the small things count BIG.
It only takes a few minutes to pick a flower, to send a loving text or write a quick note of appreciation, to ask instead of nagging. Everyone has three minutes to spare.
Take time to ask yourself what might make your partner feel more heard, valued, and loved. Think up a playful response to replace your conditioned grumble or sarcastic remark. Take some small positive steps, spreading them out throughout the week. It's guaranteed to bring more love and fun into your relationship.
It's not size; it's your intention and attention. If we get in the habit of small, random acts of kindness and love, they become the cement that keeps a relationship secure and happy. Small IS big. Make a habit of small that equates to BIG in the long run!
Learn more key actions to build a healthy relationship first with yourself and then with those you love. Reach out to Heartmanity for the skills and support that will help you be your best self and the best partner in love.