Published with permission from The Couples’ Institute   All Rights Reserved
Founders  and Directors Ellyn Bader,  Ph.D .  and Peter Pearson ,  Ph.D.


Tracking Success

by Doing

“The Daily Double” 

Here’s something you can do for your relationship today. It’s called The Daily Double. 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


I listened to difficult comments and kept my cool.

I was able to recap what I was hearing in a conversation. I expressed compassion in a difficult  situation.

When I felt I needed to solve a problem, I first asked my partner if they wanted advice.

I used some appropriate  humor, which my partner  appreciated.  I asked several questions  before butting in with my  reactions.

I took several relaxing breaths instead of negatively commenting on an annoying habit.

I expressed appreciation at least twice today.

I took this further and expressed why I was appreciative of  what my partner did.   I took a time out to  stop a downward  spiraling  argument.

I apologized for  my part in a bad situation or conversation.  I went out of my way to  do something nice for  my partner.  I had kind and loving thoughts  about my partner  today.

When I had negative thoughts about my partner, I shifted to thinking of what I appreciated.

I emailed my partner at least one appreciation today. I texted my partner at least one appreciation today. 

I said both “please” and “thank you” today.  I made better eye contact  today.

I kept my voice tone positive during a difficult  discussion.

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.”

I looked for  something positive in my partner today then expressed  it.

I asked a series of questions about my partner’s perspectives and reality. I genuinely was curious.

I took the initiative doing something I know my partner would value. I expressed empathy for my partner’s feelings or experience.

Important note to self:

I thought about how I aspired to be

before having a difficult discussion.

For example,

be curious about my 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!




I practiced


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


I avoided


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


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