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How 1% Better Every Day Led to the Best, Happiest, Most Loving Weekend in the 25 Years of Marriage.

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Let me be very clear before I begin this post; 1% better every day works. In my case, though, the first month was made possible by seismic changes and a whole mess of patience betwixt both partners.

My wife and I were in a marriage you could call good but not great. I believe we’d have stayed together to reach old age but we would have made it to senior citizen status not loving each other as much as we could have. My wife and I would have both done the minimum necessary to stay together, but no more.

We would have wasted a lot of potential and it would have been sad. That’s not how this freakin’ story ends, though.

I started watching Jordan Peterson and Richard Grannon lectures so I could better argue with my wife. So I could learn to win. My wife is a professional arguer and has the memory of… well, something that has a looooong memory. She can mess me up in a debate and I wanted to be able to take her down.

I didn’t learn how to debate my wife, though. I learned how to not debate her. I learned how we could both win. This is the video that changed our marriage, found on YouTube: Jordan Peterson: If you have any sense, you seek peace rather than victory. I’d actually listened to it a couple of days prior but went back to it when my wife asked me to attend a concert with her across state, about almost two-hour’s drive. I listened to that video twice on the way to meet my wife. Then I put it into practice when things got heated not five minutes into the ride to the arena. It worked – and better, my wife followed suit with the changed tactics – having never watched a minute of those videos.

We ended up having one of the best nights we’d had together in years. And that was the day that rocked our marriage.

From there, I heard a clip on how to do one percent better every day to clean up your life. I tended to be messy (not so much any more). Unless it’s massive, I rarely see untidiness. I see filth, but not untidiness. I started by cleaning my room. Just a little bit each day; ten minutes. I put my clothes away. I dusted my dresser and cleaned off the top of everything. I made my side of the bedroom match my wife’s over the course of two weeks. Before she knew it, my side was as clean, or cleaner, than hers. I applied the 1% better trick to the yard with my girls. We’d pick up sticks, normally a 45 minute task, 10 minutes a day over the course of four days. They loved it.

Once the my room and the yard were clean, I made another leap – and this was the one that really made the difference. I started listening to Richard Grannon’s series on narcissists. I’d always suspected my wife is a bit of a benign narcissist, so I wanted to learn how to live with that peacefully and happily.

To make a very long story short, I ended up finding out that I’m just as much a narcissist as my wife is. That was a shock that shook me to my core. We exhibit different traits, but I learned I was truly no better than my wife. That’s what completely changed our game. I asked God to open my eyes so I could see everything as it was. Once I saw who I really was, rather than who I thought I was, I saw a mountain in the mirror that needed changing.

So I set about doing that. At first, the changes were massive, starting with every emotional barrier I’d built over the last 25 years. It was terrifying work! What if my wife took advantage of me in that state?! That wouldn’t be unheard of. I laid everything out for her in a tear-filled confession. I trusted my Higher Power to work a miracle. My wife accepted the changes, skeptically at first, but fully embraced them as she realized the changes were real and not just a manipulation. The changes became more gradual – a lot like that 1% a day. I started communicating with my wife a lot more, and she made vast changes at the same time.

It’s been about four months and we’re in a place we only dreamt was possible five months ago – and we’ve just begun. I go to sleep every night and wake up every morning thanking God for the changes in me that led to the changes in us.

And so it was, just a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I headed up north to a bike tour with our tandem. It was an amazing weekend that would have been almost impossible four months earlier. And we’re only growing closer…

Think about the possibilities. 1% better today than you were yesterday… that’s easy. Now imagine what happens in a hundred days.


8 Comments

  1. I’m digging these marriage posts. Honest. Real. Thanks for sharing.

  2. James L says:

    Thanks Jim for you honesty with your posts about your marriage, I’ve added the Jordan Peterson video to my watch list.

    It’s been a difficult year for me so far and I have the feeling of lots of outstanding jobs building up around me (including an untidy bedroom). This post has inspired me to stop feeling overwhelmed and just aim for 1% better everyday.

    Best wishes, James

  3. OmniRunner says:

    It’s not about winning the argument and loosing the marriage. You just gotta let it go sometimes. And sometimes you gotta realize – she is right! It’s not easy.

  4. Great to read this. Keep it going. In a couple of years, sooner than you realize, it’s going to be just you two most of the time. Hmmmmmmm….

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