It is important to visualize the finished product of your marriage, the big picture. Then you start filling in with the basic brush strokes that make it possible, beginning with two fundamental phrases you learned in kindergarten.
When Michelangelo decided to carve the statue of David he had the big picture in his mind. When he found the piece of granite, he mentally visualized the finished product. He started with the big picture and proceeded to make it happen one chip at a time. Any great accomplishment in art, music, literature, product, or business started with a big picture in mind. A painter will choose the size of canvas, put it on a frame and set it on the easel. The next step in the process is to lightly sketch the overall layout of the picture in your mind to give it perspective. This sketch has very little detail. Then the painting begins one stroke at a time, helped by the basics and talents learned at an earlier time.
So it is with marriage. You must have the big picture of a lifetime together. To that, you sketch in your mind some of the events anticipated — walking through life together, having children, building a home, developing a career, traveling, being with family members, and the list goes on. With this canvas pictured in your mind and the sketchy events, you now start making it real with the brush strokes of your life together.
The trouble begins when you forget the basic lessons and wisdom taught at an earlier age. Your mom and dad taught the basics. Many of these were reinforced in kindergarten. During dating, courting, and the early part of marriage each partner puts the best foot forward. Over time, these niceties often start to fade.
For example, let’s look at the two common courtesy words learned early in life, “please” and “thank you.” In most instances these two words seem to leave the marriage vocabulary very quickly. At home, Mom and Dad seemed to be quick to remind us to say those words. Now, when they are not around, we often forget. A couple was asked in therapy how well they do in saying "please" and "thank you," and they replied, “Not too good, but we make sure our kids say them.”
What makes “please” and “thank you” so powerful? In order to use them correctly, you get out of yourself. When you say “please” to someone, you are out of yourself showing respect to the other person. When you say “thank you” to another person you are out of yourself recognizing what that person has done. That is powerful.
Take a moment and think how you feel inside when you are shown respect and recognition. It feels good and seems to relax your inner self. Many say when they are appreciated for what they do they want to do more.
Look for every opportunity to say "please" and "thank you" to your mate with an emphasis on "thank you." Do this because you have decided you are a respectful person. In other words, don’t keep score, just do it. "Please" and "thank you" may seem insignificant, but they are important strokes that lead to the big picture. When you concentrate on the things you appreciate they seem to grow with the side effect of a more peaceful and loving feeling inside yourself and in your home. You are the artist in your marriage, only you can control your brush strokes on your canvas.