Eight habits, eight action verbs, to develop that can help in marriages and families:

1.  APPRECIATE – Every day look for the good in your spouse and children.  Verbalize the good you see.  Write an occasional note of appreciation or send an email or text.  Say “Thank you.”  Acknowledge good deeds.  Pay sincere compliments.  Write what you appreciate about each family member in your journal.  Let your family members hear you express your gratitude for them as you pray.

  2.  COMMUNICATE – Develop good listening habits.  Stop what you are doing and look at your spouse or children as they speak to you.  Make time to visit with your spouse privately to make observations, plans, and goals.  Make sure your goals are mutually understood.  Enhance the private time visiting with your spouse with prayer.  Make time to nurture physical and spiritual intimacy in your marriage.  Talk with your children.  Ask them specific questions about their day.  Don’t give advice unless asked.  

3.  COOPERATE –  In your marriage work together as equal partners.  Learn how to negotiate a compromise and teach your children how to do so.  Stand as a united front where the children are concerned.  Have shared goals as a couple and as a family.  All family members should help with household chores.  Chores are simply part of being a family.  Help your children develop the habit of stepping in and helping when needed.  Older children can listen to younger siblings read or practice spelling words.  Teach your children healthy ways to deal with conflict.

4.  CONTEMPLATE –  Spend time alone to pray, meditate, read scriptures or other uplifting material.  Reflect inwardly and honestly about your personal relationship with your spouse and children.  Set goals for any improvements that you need to make.  As a family worship together, read scriptures, pray.  Seek to be in tune with the Lord or your inner voice.  Use your journal to write down any inspiration received.

5.  PARTICIPATE –  Attend the sporting events, music concerts, and dance performances of your children.  Join your family members in their hobbies.  Show an active interest in what they are doing.  Spend time as a family doing activities you all enjoy such as bike rides, hiking, attending plays, playing sports.  Get involved with your kids’ schools.  Volunteer in their classrooms.  Be an active participant in the lives of your family members.   

6.  CELEBRATE–  Remember birthdays, anniversaries, and other dates worthy of commemorating.  Develop fun family traditions to set special days, such as birthdays, apart.  Celebrate holidays.  Display the awards family members receive.  Hang up exceptional school work.  Share accomplishments with extended family members.   Almost anything can be reason to celebrate:  a promotion at work, a soccer win, an improved grade, handling a difficult situation well.  As a couple celebrate the day you got engaged.  Celebrate the anniversary of your first date.  Be grateful for every day you have together.

7.  MOTIVATE–  Look for good things that happen throughout your day to share with your family.  Let your family see that you enjoy what you do.  Look for talents in your family members and encourage them to pursue them.  Speak positively about their efforts.  Schedule family meetings to discuss future plans of individuals.  Encourage everyone to show their support.  Make motivational books and videos available in your home.

8.  ELEVATE –  Make your spouse and family your top priorities.  Allow no interruptions during family meeting times and outings.  Teach your kids proper manners.  Promote civility.  Speak with a soft, calm voice.  Teach your values to your children.  Provide uplifting reading materials, movies, and music in your home.  Always listen to both sides of the story before making any judgements.

Appreciate, communicate, cooperate, contemplate, participate, celebrate, motivate, elevate.  Eight ideas.  Eight habits.  Perhaps they will resonate with you to rejuvanate and invigorate your family life and then you can anticipate better days ahead!

Some of the ideas for this post came from an article written by Russell M. Nelson (“Nurturing Marriage,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2006, 37-38).