Noticing and noting the positive

For a while we have had a thing whre I wrote something in hubby's diary if I was feeling disconnected etc. Then someone gave me the idea that this kind of journalling could be used to note positive things as well. For example, last night he quietly told me off for poking him in the ribs and told me that I was never to do again.

It was no big drama and no punishment was had but to me it was a real step forward.

Previously this step forward would have been forgotten, but by me putting it in his diary, saying what a positive thing it was, it is there as a reminder to both of us of one of the many times he has got it right.

I think this could be a good way forward for us. Does anyone else do anything similar to this? I know that lots of people do journalling but I'm thinking more of the idea of jotting down the little things that let your husband/wife know when an action has had a positive effect.


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Good idea

This is such a good idea, Sully. Increasing the noticing of positives, and decreasing the noticing of negatives, tends to increase the good feeling in the relationship, and things go better. Expressing appreciation, whether orally or in written form, can make the other person feel good, and as you so rightly say, if it is written down, there is a potentially permanent reminder and record that might cement some good memories.

One caution: be careful that expressions of appreciation are just that, as opposed to indirect complaints that the other person usually fails to do X. Avoid using expressions of appreciation as a stick with which to beat the other person. Sounds obvious, but this is a common mistake people make.


I didn't quite get what you meant until I read some of the recommended articles.

As a person I am very good at seeing the negative and not so good at spotting the positive. (Good grief, I must be fun to live with).

So yes I will try to ensure that they are true positives not "I liked it when you did this but it's a pity you didn't..."

I will keep it as "It was a positive thing for me when you made me feel... "

Thank you for that sound advice Sarah.

In the last few weeks I've been much more positve with him and noticing when I'm being overly critical or a bit loopy and apologising for my behaviour as soon a I notice it. I am seeing a subtle changes in his manner, he seems taller and broader too.

Noticing the positive

The more you focus on—notice and note—the positive rather than the negative, the better you yourself feel. To anyone who doesn't believe me, try doing an experiment: for one week, or even for one day, notice everything positive that happens, no matter how minor, and notice every positive feeling you have, no matter how fleeting, and jot them down, giving a little explanation in each case. Do not allow yourself to dwell on anything negative. The experiment is to see what happens when you focus on the positive rather than the negative. See how you feel at the end of the day or the week.


Apparently studies show married couples get on much better when they think their partner is great (even when they aren't!). The self-delusion apparently leads to happiness, within reason.

Also I think with my children I always try to say 5 positive things for every negative one which works well too so yes I agree this sounds a nice way to work things out, pointing out the positive.

There's nothing like positive reinforcement

My husband and I share a journal where I can write to him all the things that are hard to say out loud. I always make sure to let him know how little things he's done have made me feel. A certain tone of voice, a passing pat on the bum... Also, I try to thank him for taking me in hand, when he does, and point out all the positive effects it has had on me.

Sharing a journal has been one of the most beneficial things we've incorporated in our relationship. It's enabled us to be completely open and honest with each other.

Keep up the communication. It'll pay off.