I want you to think about common courtesy in your intimate relationships. How courteous are you to your spouse, kids, parents, and/or siblings? Often what you find is that you mind your manners more toward strangers than your loved ones. Sometimes these close relationships are taken for granted and the pressure of societal expectation to behave a certain way is lessened.

But, what happens when you neglect common courtesies toward your loved ones? There are negative ramifications. Throughout my years counseling couples, I have discovered that once positive regard and words of gratitude and consideration start to slip, so does the relationship. Inevitably each person feels the other no longer respects him/her, which in turn fuels the “victim” to become negative toward the “offender” and on and on the vicious cycle turns until the relationship has spiraled into resentment. If you are in a relationship, take a moment to reflect on how you treated your partner in beginning. Do you still treat your partner with the same level of verbal appreciation and high regard? Have you gotten so comfortable that the need for politeness has fallen by the wayside?

My husband, Victor, and I are both mindful to verbalize our gratitude for all that we do for each other. I mean every single day in all situations. Who ever did not make the bed thanks the other who did. Every time the dishwasher is unloaded, a meal is cooked, laundry is folded, or snow is shoveled, words of thanks are exchanged. (Ok, full disclosure—it is ALWAYS me thanking HIM for snow shoveling 😉 This may sound extreme, but the truth is that we all need to feel appreciated, and institutionalizing that positive behavior creates a reserve of good feelings, which in turn creates resiliency and flexibility in the relationship.

The same is true for the parent/child dynamic. As a parent, it is the behavior you model to your children that they will repeat no matter what you tell them. Do as I say but not as I do simply does not effectively teach kids manners or social sensitivity. Children will mimic modeled behavior, so remember everything you say and don’t say is a lesson on acceptable behavior.

I want you to think about what your expectations are of people closest to you in your life and if you are grateful for them. These two elements play off each other since we are all energy, and the energy we give is inevitably the energy we receive. If you expect certain behavior, you must behave in the same fashion. The other side of the equation is gratitude. Why be grateful? Have you ever noticed that when you are appreciative, you feel good and it warms your insides? Again, if you are grateful and exude good feelings, others will respond in kind. Besides, have you ever noticed how you are more likely to do something happily for someone when you know they will appreciate it? Well, others feel the same way.

The Challenge

This week, I challenge you to be as polite as possible in your home life and with your loved ones. Rocking more gratitude just might make life a little sweeter and happier all around. Does it change the way your family responds to you?

I am always interested in your thoughts, so please share. I am available to guide you and cheer you on, along with our supportive Positively Positive community. So give it a try and share your experience!

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Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. For almost two decades, Terri has empowered companies, celebrities, professional athletes, and individuals to Live Fearless and Free. Currently, Terri is wrapping up her first solo book project, “Flip Over and Float—8 Steps to Sustainable Change,” filming “The Conversation” for the Lifetime Network, executive produced by Demi Moore, set to launch February 2012. Terri can also be seen as the guest transformation expert on A&E’s Monster In-Laws. In addition to her website, Terri can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.