An attainable goal is something reasonable to work toward so that I'm not setting myself up for failure. For example, cooking his favorite meal once a month might be attainable, while cooking something he loves every single day would probably leave me feeling defeated and exhausted after just a couple of meals.
With these two simple guidelines in place, I set out to take baby steps in showing my husband that I appreciate him, despite my daily failings in reacting angrily or impatiently with him.
My measurable and attainable goal was to tell my husband once a day one reason I am grateful for him. It may seem simple, but simplicity is what makes it possible to achieve.
As any married person knows, one of the biggest frustrations in marriage is not being able to read the other person's mind. This leads to frustration and causes us to miss out on positive things our spouses think about us. So while I considered some other simple goals, such as cleaning up the toys at the end of each day to create a welcoming environment for my husband to come home to, I decided to go the direct route of just telling him how I appreciate him on a daily basis.
A Grateful Heart
I started toward my goal with the purpose of showing my husband I didn't take him for granted, but surprisingly it has been a blessing to me as well. My daily goal gives me something positive to focus on during some of the more mind-numbing and frustrating parts of my day. The exercise helps me not only to show my husband my gratefulness but to have a more grateful heart to begin with.
I'm starting to understand why Paul gave the following instruction: "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise" (Philippians 4:8).
No matter how much we multitask throughout the day, our minds don't usually multitask positive and negative thoughts at the same time. So when I think about the reasons I am grateful for my husband, I don't have room to think about the things he hasn't done or the ways we disagree.
While I still sometimes (okay, often) react negatively to my husband, cultivating a grateful heart has already impacted not only how I act intentionally but also how I react when I'm not thinking. I didn't tell my husband about my daily goal, but he exclaimed the other day, "Wow, you're in a really good mood today!" His comment surprised me because I didn't even realize I was acting differently. All those previous days when I had tried to be nicer hadn't worked, but now I was suddenly being nice without even thinking about it.