I’m always looking for new marriage advice – and the simpler (and cheaper), the better. I read books on marriage and go to classes, knowing I’ll hear many of the same old ideas (not that I couldn’t use the review!), searching for just one more piece of wisdom. There are a lot of people out there who care about the state of marriages – not only their own – and I am frequently rewarded by their insights.

Last night was no exception. Esther Friedman, the speaker, was a member of Shalom Task Force, an organization dedicated to the prevention and eradication of domestic abuse and promoting successful relationships. The focus of the presentation was preparing engaged couples for marriage through teaching healthy communication skills (and possibly surfacing destructive ones in the process).

She told us a tip she likes to give couples. It fits my criteria perfectly – it’s simple, it’s cheap and (it should be) easy to implement.

Make sure to exchange at least one expression of appreciation every day (or night) with your spouse. These do not have to be for dramatic gestures. They do not have to be flowery or excessively mushy; in fact, it’s probably better if they’re not. It’s just important not to let a day go by without saying thank you.

And don’t even try telling me you can’t think of anything!

It’s a great idea. It can make such a difference. And did I mention it’s free?

One short, sincere expression of appreciation has the potential to enhance all of our relationships.

“Thank you for walking to work so I could have the car today.” “Thank you for washing my clothes – it’s amazing; I put them in the hamper in the morning and they’re back in my drawer, neatly folded, by the time I return home.” “Thank you for making dinner; you take such good care of us.” “Thank you for buying dinner; you take such good care of us!” “Thank you for taking Sarah to the doctor, dentist, orthodontist, periodontist (am I revealing too much about my children’s teeth?!), podiatrist…you can fill in the blank.” “Thank you for making coffee in the morning.” “Thank you for driving carpool.” “Thank you for clearing the table.” “Thank you for taking out the garbage.” (This seems to always be a biggie) “Thank you for making the bed.” The list is virtually endless.

“Thank you for getting up with the baby.” “Thank you for waiting up for our teenage son.” “Thank you for changing that diaper.” “Thank you for teaching our adolescents to drive.” “Thank you for holding me when I’m scared.” “Thank you for supporting my dreams.” “Thank you for believing in me.” You can surely think of your own by now.

And while you’re at it, throw in a few thank yous to the Almighty – the list is endless there too. You could begin with “Thank you for giving me a spouse who does all these wonderful things for me.”

A simple thank you has the potential to enhance all of our relationships. Yet, as easy as it is, most of us don’t say it enough. We take the kindness for granted – from our parents, our spouses, the Almighty – and focus on what we don’t have.

One short sincere expression of appreciation has the potential to dramatically turn around our thinking and our relationships. One a day – a vitamin for our marriages.