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Monday, March 16, 2015

Sugar...Yes, Please. How using your kids' sticker reward system can revamp your marriage.

A few years back, during the dreadful days of potty training, a simple sticker chart was taped on the glass of our white bathroom cabinet. I was always astonished to see how much confidence and pride Senia Mae gained when she knew did good, with something as normal as going tinkle in the potty. After she was done she would turn down its lid and sit on the potty like a stool, staring at her chart with the big Dora the Explorer stickers, so pleased with herself. "I did it," she would squeal as she took me by the hand, leading me into the bathroom to show me her accomplishments.

One morning, after an exceptionally romantic evening with Kim, I deliberately stuck a extra large heart sticker on our kitchen calendar. "What's the sticker for?" she asked, finally noticing it a few hours later.

"I thought you deserved a sticker for a job well done last night," I said, giving her a wink. It may have been the best compliment I had ever given her because almost immediately her smile changed into a panoramic grin, her chest peacocking out as she strut out of the kitchen with quite a bit more spring in her step. Something as simple as a sticker, a symbol on a calendar, made her realize that she was still special to me. She once again felt worthy, accepted, and loved while I felt close and connected to her.

It was a refreshing break to our routine that had over the years become slightly blase'. Seeing the stickers on the chart was a sort of challenge to do better all of the time, a simple reminder of how much enjoyment we have together when we take the time to do so. Something as silly as adding stickers to a monthly calendar has enhanced one of the strongest bonds that holds us together as a couple. Not surprisingly, when there are more stickers on the chart we seem to get along better. If we argue, the fights are less intense and we seem to be able to reach a common ground quickly. Our differences don't seem as noticeable because we are adding strength to our core.

Overall we are more happy as a couple and that joy flows into the heart of our impressionable daughter. In the couple of years since we began the chart we have told several people about our system, laughing about how easy it is to reward our kids but how seemingly hard it is to reward ourselves. The most common response we get is, "Oh wow, why didn't we think of that?"

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