How to Create a “Wow Effect” in Your Marriage

Yesterday morning while laying in bed my wife Marian brought me a cup of coffee. Nothing unusual. It’s part of our morning routine. Until I looked in the cup and noticed she made a mistake. “Sweetheart, you gave me your cup of coffee.” (I drink my coffee black.) “Oh no Big Boy.” she replied with a cute smile. “This is your coffee. I added a splash of Baileys.” “Wow! Thank-you babe!” I responded. Marian created a “wow effect”. This small, thoughtful gesture brightened up morning. It also set the tone for the remainder of the day AND gave me the inspiration to write this blog!

What is a “Wow Effect”?

The Urban Dictionary defines a “wow effect” as a special state of mind that occurs when you are surprised by something wonderful or really great. Oprah Winfrey, the Queen of the “wow effect” occasionally  dazzled her audience with an unexpected lavish gift. Steve Jobs, the King of the “wow effect” ended his developers conference presentation by saying “Oh, there is one more thing…” Then he wowed the audience with an introduction of an amazing product. Check out this YouTube. A few years ago I wowed Marian when I booked a junior suite at the Woodlands Mansion in Summerville, just outside of Charleston, SC. It was a converted mansion with only 18 guest rooms. When we arrived the Concierge politely informed me, “Mr. Olund, the Governor’s Suite is available and with your permission we prefer to upgrade you at no extra charge.” I call that a “double wow”.

Marriages deserve an occasional “wow”

Relationships often get mired in the routines of life together. Every day can be a repeat of the one before. I call it the Groundhog Day Syndrome based on the 1993 classic comedy featuring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Are you tired of your relationship running on autopilot? Does your marriage need something to liven it up? If you answered “yes” to these questions then you need a “wow effect”. What a “wow effect” communicates:
  1. It demonstrates thoughtfulness.
  2. It creates the element of surprise.
  3. It makes the recipient feel important or cared for.
  4. It fosters positive sentiment in the marriage.
  5. It is likely to be reciprocated.

How to Create a “Wow Effect” 

To break the Groundhog Day Syndrome, stop complaining and do something about it. In the movie, Phil decided he was going to do random acts of kindness for people. Basically, he had a change of heart. So, here’s where you begin. Start from your heart. Choose to be kind and do thoughtful things without expecting anything in return. This is called “unconditional love”. To prime the pump of your creativity, let me give you some easy-to-do “wow effect” suggestions.
  • Do a household task that you know your spouse wants done without waiting to be asked
  • Take extra care of your wife when she is sick (I got this one from a client who boasted about all the really cool things her husband did while she was in bed sick for four days)
  • Send a sentimental card to his/her office (I use the ThankyouPro app. It does everything for you, including sending a gift card)
  • Get dressed up real nice when you go out together for the day or on a date
  • Do a year-in-pictures album or video (easy to do on most photo apps)
  • Give her a “spa day” just because you know she needs one
  • Give him a “lazy day” to do whatever he wants
  • Spice up a night of romance
  • Wash and detail her car
  • Buy him a Car & Driver magazine and leave it on his bedside
The success of the “wow effect” is the element of surprise. Here’s a few things to remember:
  • Don’t announce what you’re going to do
  • Don’t make a big deal about it
  • Don’t make it about you
  • Make it about your spouse
  • Do it without expecting something in return (base it on unconditional love)
  • If you don’t get a response don’t conclude it failed and give up (this is especially important for distressed couples)

What to do when you’ve been “wowed”!

If you are on the receiving end of the “wow effect” your response is important. If I kept my response to the cup of coffee to myself it would have weakened the effect. Expressing “wow” to Marian established a positive connection to start our day. Make sense? Here are some things to do when you’ve been wowed:
  1. Make a big deal out of it in the moment!
  2. Remind your spouse later how much it meant to you. Be specific. For example, “Thank you for washing and detailing my car. I have so much going on driving the kids back n forth. I know it gets messy and I can never find the time to get it done. I was relaxed driving the car today.”
  3. Think and act positive toward your spouse.
  4. Find a way to reciprocate that day or later in the week when he/she least expects it. That’s the wow factor!

Now it’s your turn

What is one thing you plan to do this week to create a “wow effect” in your marriage?