• Dr. Bill Walker

Make Your Marriage Stronger: Celebrate the Small Victories

It's easy to overlook the little opportunities to make our marriage stronger. Here is one of those little acts that can make a big difference.

In his book, The All-or-Nothing Marriage*, Dr. Eli Finkel recommends using “love hacks” [1] to give your marriage regular small, but helpful boosts of encouragement. Dr. Finkel defines a ‘love hack’ as a proven technique that takes little time or effort and doesn’t even require cooperation from your partner.

Finkel has tested these ‘hacks’ in the relationship laboratory he runs at Northwestern University, using actual married couples.

He says our busy schedules and parenting obligations often prevent couples from spending quality time together. Lack of quality time together can lead to partners feeling neglected.

To work around this Finkel has identified small behaviors that meaningfully influence our partners and marriages in positive ways. When put into practice these behaviors strengthen our relationship with our spouse - something we all want and need.

One thing you can regularly do to help your marriage is to celebrate the small victories of each partner. Here is Finkel’s explanation for the marriage hack of celebrating small victories:

When your partner tells you about something that went right in his or her day, get excited about it. Ask questions so your partner can tell you more about the event and relive it. Put some enthusiasm into your voice and your reactions. Researchers call this a “capitalization attempt.”

Here’s the Value

Paying attention and showing genuine interest in your spouse sends a critical message:

'I care about you at a deep level and am interested in you and your life. You are important to me!'

This makes our partner feel ACKNOWLEDGED and VALUED. In our busy culture there are a million things competing for our attention. It is easy to take your spouse for granted as you spend your limited free time in Facebook or Netflix.

Stronger Marriage Action Steps: Celebrate the Small Victories

1) At the end of the day when you get home from work it is important

to make eye contact and kiss hello.

2) Take a few minutes to ask about each other’s day.

Do NOT be doing something else at the same time like looking

through the mail or checking iphone messages.

3) Anything, no matter how small, that qualifies as a positive event in

your partner’s day, should get your extra attention.

4) Follow Finkel’s advice explained above as you react to this positive


The Benefit To You and Your Marriage

According to Finkel’s research, couples who used this relationship builder in their evening face-to-face conversation took greater pleasure from their own victories. As well, both partner’s reported feeling a greater sense of connectedness to one another.

Husbands and wives - this small act of caring is simply too easy and too valuable to not use in your own marriage!

Start Using It Today!

--dr. bill walker

[1] life·hack

“a usually simple and clever tip or technique for accomplishing some familiar task more easily and efficiently”


*Buyer beware! While this book has many good things to say Finkel does take the position that some couples might benefit from having a sexual relationship outside of their marriage. This is extremely disappointing and shortsighted on Finkel’s part. The marriage research is replete with evidence that sex outside of marriage is terribly destructive to the bond between a husband and wife. God's view is strong - He calls it ADULTERY.