Build a Culture of Appreciation

Negative Sentiment Override can kill any appreciation you have for your partner. Learn how to develop an eye for your partner’s good characteristics.

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Negative Sentiment Override can kill any appreciation you have for your partner. Learn how to develop an eye for your partner’s good characteristics.

Negative Sentiment Override can kill any appreciation you have for your partner. Learn how to develop an eye for your partner’s good characteristics.

The previous blog post on The Three Boxes noted that Negative Sentiment Override (NSO) will cause your relationship to suffer. It’s important to point out that NSO only applies to healthy, safe relationships, void of any and all forms of abuse. If NSO occurs in your otherwise safe relationship, it does not necessarily spell doom. Gottman research devised tools for combating NSO, which helped thousands of couples find their way back to a positive view of their partners. You can find a great number of these tools in “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” “The Relationship Cure,” and “What Makes Love Last.” Check out these books and others in our Store.

Below you will find one of the many exercises from “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” designed to help you work towards Positive Sentiment Override. When you and your partner have free time, follow these instructions:

Exercise: I Appreciate…

From the list below, choose three items that you think are characteristic of your partner. If there are more than three, still circle just three. You can choose another three if you decide to do this exercise again. Even if you can recall only one instance when your partner displayed this characteristic, you can circle it.

Loving, Sensitive, Brave, Intelligent, Thoughtful, Generous, Loyal, Truthful, Strong, Energetic, Sexy, Decisive, Creative, Imaginative, Fun, Attractive, Interesting, Supportive, Funny, Considerate, Affectionate, Organized, Resourceful, Athletic, Cheerful, Coordinated, Graceful, Elegant, Gracious, Playful, Caring, A great friend, Exciting, Full of plans, Shy, Vulnerable, Committed, Involved, Expressive, Active, Careful, Reserved, Adventurous, Receptive, Reliable, Responsible, Dependable, Nurturing, Warm, Virile, Kind, Gentle, Practical, Lusty, Witty, Relaxed, Beautiful, Handsome, Rich, Calm, Lively, A great partner, A great parent, Assertive, Protective, Sweet, Tender, Powerful, Flexible, Understanding, Totally silly…

For each item you chose, briefly think of an actual incident that illustrates this characteristic of your partner. Write about it in your notebook or journal as follows:

  1. Characteristic _______________________________

Incident: _______________________________

  1. Characteristic _______________________________

Incident: _______________________________

  1. Characteristic _______________________________

Incident: _______________________________

Now share your list with your partner. Let them know what it is about these traits that you value so highly. Build your Emotional Bank Account.

Share, show, and speak your love! In this all-new series of exercises, activities, and videos, Drs. John and Julie Gottman show you how to love your partner even better. Sign up for Loving Out Loud and upgrade your relationship today.

Ellie Lisitsa is a former staff writer at The Gottman Institute and editor for The Gottman Relationship Blog.