When we think about having empathy in marriage, many of us assume having empathy only involves emotions like anger, sadness, grief… But empathy has just as much to do with celebration. In other words, empathy isn’t just about the tough stuff in marriage; it’s about the fun stuff, too. Shelly Gable, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, discovered in her research, “How we celebrate is more predictive of strong relationships than how we fight.” She states, “A partner’s positive reaction to our good news can magnify the benefits of that good fortune and make us feel closer to them.” Of course it does! How we respond to their good news, to what excites them, really matters. We need to celebrate not just for them but with them.
I’ve learned this over the years with my wife’s ninja shopping skills. She is the queen of managing money. Consequently, I’ve learned to be present and celebrate what I call Sale Reveal Days. Sale Reveal Days are when Nancie presents to me the great deals she has found. She shows me each item, one by one, and then always says, “Guess how much I got all this for.” Now, you need to know that how I answer this question is crucial. I can’t say, “I don’t know; just tell me.” That’s a joy killer. So, now I lock in, get super interested, and play like I’m on a game show, with game show-level enthusiasm. And why wouldn’t I celebrate this with her? The whole celebration takes three minutes. But this is for sure a skill I’ve had to acquire over time, that you can acquire too. Here are 3 easy ways to make your wife happy.
1. Smile when she smiles.
This may sound super simple, but it is super important. How many times have our wives gotten excited about something we couldn’t care less about? And it is easy for our faces to communicate just that. Instead, smile back, because hopefully, we couldn’t care more about her.Letting your wife know her happiness makes you happy is oh-so good for your marriage.
2. Let her know you know.
The next time your wife gets happy or excited about something, simply say, “I love that _______________ makes you so __________________.” For example, I love that a call from your best friend makes you so happy. I love that the kids making good grades makes you so proud. I love that our vacation plans get you so excited. Letting her know her happiness makes you happy is oh-so good for your marriage.
3. Join in the fun.
Remember when you were dating, and you would do the things your now wife loved because it made her so happy? Now that she is your wife, it is even more important. Recently, while I was speaking at a marriage retreat, I had spouses tell each other what they wanted to do for fun. A couple approached me afterward and the husband said, “I just found out she wants to go roller skating. With a big smile on his face, he said, “I’m going to take my girl skating.” He has been married to that girl for 32 years.
The point is this. Marriage has enough tough stuff. Life can get serious. Have some serious fun and celebrate with your spouse. It’s essential. In fact, one of the best ways to protect your marriage is to enjoy it.
Sound off: How do you let your wife know what makes her happy makes you happy?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What is something in your life you need me to celebrate?”