365 Things I Love About You — Are you up to the challenge?

I confess: I was irritated. I’d had a silly squabble with my wife one morning and driven to my office in a fog of grumpiness.

To be clear, no vows were at stake. It was a dumb dispute over preference, not principle.

I rolled into the parking lot and pulled my chair up to my desk. For an hour, I watered my pride until it grew heavy and collapsed on its stem. She was right, I was wrong and no amount of debate gymnastics could change the fact that it didn’t matter anyway.

I picked up my phone and texted an apology. But before I could follow-up with the requisite heart emoji, she’d already replied. “Thank you and I’m sorry too. I want you to know that I love you. Have a great day!”

A thankful smile wriggled its way from the inside out, and I was struck yet again by my wife’s ability to forgive my countless shortcomings. That gift of grace and a short memory are just two of the many things I appreciate about her.

“I’m a lucky guy,” I said to the family photos on my wall.

On a whim, I grabbed a large, lined notepad on my desk and began a list of things I love about my wife that I’d planned to share later in the day. It started with her ability to forgive, her sense of timing, her eyes and her faith.

When the lines were filled, I flipped to a second page and continued.

Loves America. Hides notes in my suitcase. Loves her in-laws.

When the list hit 20, I opened my laptop and launched my day. But a few hours later, when an issue with one of our children arose, I revisited the list.

Solves problems. Loves our kids. Sees the good in others.

The next day, because the list kept staring at me, I resumed what had become an interesting experiment. I also began to categorize and check for repeats.

Great hair. Holds my hand. Puts God first.

At home I began watching for things to add to my list. Fearful I’d forget them, I started writing them in the notes app on my iPhone.

Grows her talents. Supports my dreams. Is a peacemaker.

When the list topped 100, I wondered — can I hit 200? More? Could it be, I thought, that there are 365 things I love about my wife? One for each day of the year?

Challenge accepted.

Over the next few days, I pondered every imaginable thing I love about the woman I chose to live with in this life and the next. The more I identified, the more I loved and I began seeing her differently. I better appreciated the enormous work she does as a wife, mother, home-schooler, professional photographer and active Christian.

Soon I’d hit 365 unique things I love and I knew I needed to share them.

Back at my desk, I cut 365 white slips of paper and began writing down each and every item. I wrote until my hand hurt. I wrote until the handwriting was so sloppy it looked like a language I’d invented. I wrote until I was done.

That night, I attached two small wooden boxes to one another and asked my daughter to decorate the front. Then 365 slips went into the front half and the other side remained empty.

The next morning I put the contraption on her dresser and left the house earlier than normal. Then I ended the experiment where it began — with a text message.

The instructions were simple. Read one slip each day and put it the other box. No cheating. No reading ahead.

She was grateful, to be sure, but we haven’t talked about it much since. That wasn’t the point.

Every single day, whether I’m home or at work, still sleeping or on a plane, my wife is reminded of just one of the things I love about her.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — “Am I up for it?”

Well, are you?

Whether it’s for your husband or wife, are you up to the 365 Things I Love About You Challenge?

I guarantee any relationship will benefit: newlyweds, couples married five decades, those struggling to make it work, husbands and wives in a comfort zone where it seems everything is perfect.

Do it my way. Do it your way. Use boxes, jars, bins or bags. Do it anyway you like. Just do it. You just might find yourself seeing your spouse in new and improved light.

Then, when the mountain of slips is gone, perhaps we can do it all over again.

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