"Can you get up and get Ellie once in a while?" my wife inquired. She was understandably annoyed. Earlier that morning, I had stayed in bed while she got up to respond to our 1-year-old's crying. Admittedly, I often lounge in bed and let my wife attend to Ellie.
Attempting to diffuse her anger with humor, I said with a grin, "Do you like me less right now?"
She replied without hesitation, "Yes."
My relationship with my wife is often gauged by what I call a "like meter," which describes how we feel about one another based on whether the other person is doing things we like, sort of like or don't like at all. We love each other no matter what — but sometimes we might not like each other.
My wife and I often score high on each other's like meter. When I help her make lunches for the kids, she likes me more. She takes the kids to the pool to give me some time alone at home, and I like her more.
On the other hand, if I neglect to do the dishes as I said I would, she likes me less. She sometimes interrupts me while I'm talking, and I like her less.
If you look at your feelings toward your wife as a range — emotions that can go in one direction or another hour by hour — there are three ways you can use the like meter to strengthen your marriage.
When you're ranking low on your wife's like meter, recognize that your relationship will benefit from efforts to raise your ranking. In my case, I need to take turns with my wife to attend to our little girl.
If your wife is ranking low on your like meter, determine whether it's for a valid reason. Let's say your wife remarked that the clothes you're wearing don't look good. Ask yourself, Is the remark worth feeling less "like" toward her? Was she trying to offend me, or simply making a suggestion? You can choose to adjust your wife's ranking upward on your like meter.
Even if your wife's low ranking seems valid, don't focus on what she did to "earn" that ranking. Instead, focus on the many other things you do like. Meditating on those things can raise your wife's ranking on your like meter, and you'll have a better marriage by choosing to like her.Eric Christiansen is a website administrator and freelance writer.