Pillow Talk

This past fall, when I was feeling bummed out, Alex and I started a tradition to try to cheer me up…

When we would lie down in bed at night, we each had to say:
* two things you’re grateful for overall
* two little things you enjoyed that day
* one reason why you’re glad you’re married to the other person

It was so nice to end the day with this little chat, and we would tell each other anecdotes and compliments that we might not have otherwise. And it really was a pick-me-up! Even though I’m (thankfully) starting to feel better now, we’re planning to keep it up.

Do you do anything like this? Gratitude journals are supposed to be awesome. (Here are six surprising tips about how to keep one.)

P.S. Encouragement and the no-complaining challenge.

(Photos from our friend’s cabin a while back)

  1. I think that this is amazing. It is a wonderful way to begin sleeping. It also affirms your mutual adoration. Thank you as I am smiling with a tear in my eye.

  2. How long did you keep this up? It really inspired me to start my own gratitude routine! I even created a spreadsheet and surprised my bf with it :) I lasted some thirty-odd days.

  3. I just got done reading your article, and really enjoyed it, thank you. Here is a really fun book and audio that just came out about a real full time phone sex Adult sex chat

  4. I love this idea! Such a great way to share a special moment with the person you love at the end of each day.

  5. my 3 year old son and i do this every night but it sounds like a good idea to do it with my husband and not to tap out on all the emotional giving and getting with my son…

  6. I’m sorry to hear you experienced the blues again, what a total bummer. I can only imagine how transitioning from one child to two can be difficult. I have a 1.5 year old and am no where near ready (maybe never) for a second child. I didn’t have the blues (I encapsulated my placenta which I think helped me escape it) but my son had colic for 5.5 months. It was so stressful and not at all how I pictured our life with a newborn. The only thing that got us through it was people told us the more difficult baby the easier toddler and for us it’s totally true. He is the most loving and polite 1.5 I know. Anyway, we all struggle with something or another and it’s different for everyone. Thanks for sharing your experiences here and how you cope and deal with what life gives you. :)

  7. I love this post. It’s always nice to give myself a nice dose of reality and remember the good bits & pieces from my day. Even if they’re few and far between, it’s nice to point out the good instead of the bad.

    Those photos are amazing, by the way. Please put them in a frame immediately!

  8. I can’t remember where I heard of this, but every time I find a penny, I think of something that I am grateful for – it’s been a fun habit to keep and it amazes me how many pennies I find! They seem to pop up whenever I need to remember my blessings too!

  9. this is so great! i wrote about doing that very thing back in march!

    it is amazing how much it helps. there is a FABULOUS app called “happier” that i use. you write down happy things and people send you smiles or comment on it! its so great! it is a great social network for creativity positivity and doing exactly what you have been doing. love you Joanna!

  10. this is so great! i wrote about doing that very thing back in march!

    it is amazing how much it helps. there is a FABULOUS app called “happier” that i use. you write down happy things and people send you smiles or comment on it! its so great! it is a great social network for creativity positivity and doing exactly what you have been doing. love you Joanna!

  11. I still remember when you commented on my blog (a small blog that maybe got a few views a day) a couple years ago and I couldn’t believe it (I told pretty much everyone I saw the next day). You always post inspiring and real things. Thanks for a blog that’s a little different with a perfect mix of everything.

  12. claudia, oh my goodness, we love each other, but we don’t have a perfect relationship by any stretch :) we totally have to work at it. it’s tough with little kids, i completely agree!! sometimes you just have no bandwidth for handling annoyances :) would be a good post one of these days! xoxo

  13. elsa, thank you! that is so sweet of you.

  14. i love the best/worst part of your day dinner table idea. that’s so great, especially with kids.

  15. I love this idea! What a wonderful way to connect at the end of the day… and a wonderful way to remind yourself of the good things in life.

  16. That is so lovely. Pillow talk is my favourite part of going to bed, I find it really uplifting.

  17. Love that first photo! It’s like you two are loving and relaxing among the heavens. Gorgeous!

    Thanks for the great suggestion for the evening ritual. We always talk about the favourite part of our day, but little compliments would be a fabulous addition. Alas, the link about the gratitude journal isn’t leading anywhere. Perhaps a problem with that site.

  18. What a sweet idea. Whenever our family seems to be lost in negativity we sit around the table and everyone has to say 3 nice things about each of the others. It never failed to boost spirits. As an added bonus my kids are very good at looking through the haze and figuring out what it is they really like about a person. I think it has saved a few friendships.

  19. Lovely photo. Your honesty is refreshing. glad to hear you’re feeling better.

  20. I’m not married and even not in a relationship but I try to do this every night with myself before I fall asleep. Sometimes I have plenty of thing to be grateful, sometimes not, but I always try to remember at least three. Being and feeling grateful makes a big difference in your life. In fact, gratitude is the pilar of the law of attraction (my life really changed after I read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne) and when you feel grateful you keep positive and everything in your life goes better. I think doing that when you’re married is a great idea.

  21. I love the idea that several moms posted: to speak about it at dinner! We usually just talk about school or work or discuss something that happened, but not with that great positive twist.
    Hope you get better soon. It’s awful being in a place as dark as we can get when we star questioning ourselves about every single thing!

  22. I would love to read the 6 surprising tips for keeping a gratitude journal, but the link’s not working. Love your blog by the way!

  23. great idea, i´m gonna try with my guy!!

    where in Portugal we have this blogger who started this “the best of my day” movement
    and there is the roll of all the bloggers who join it… we do it when ever we want, it is not necessary to be every day but we have this compromise to think about of one good moment we had and share it … spreads good energy and makes think positive… it has been great!!

  24. You guys have the most amazing relationship, and those photos are beautiful!

  25. Jo, I hope you feel better. It must not have been easy for you over there. When I bummed out and just plain upset/sad talking definitely help and a bunch !

  26. That sounds very nice!
    I have a blog, JoyAccoustics, all about gratitude, which I believe to be the key to happiness. The motto is: Little pleasures worth sharing. And I call myself Appreciative Joy Curator :).

  27. Yes, I started to do this at New Year following an incredibly pressurised time that left me gibbering. I was given a beautiful book to write in so now I add little entries as and when I feel like it. For instance: January already has a couple of cheery mottos and encouraging ideas (be joyful) and also funny things I might have seen. No pressure to keep a journal but it just helps to record the merry things in life. Also – Spring will be here before we know it. Hyacinths! Crocuses! Snowdrops!

  28. Yes, I started to do this at New Year following an incredibly pressurised time that left me gibbering. I was given a beautiful book to write in so now I add little entries as and when I feel like it. For instance: January already has a couple of cheery mottos and encouraging ideas (be joyful) and also funny things I might have seen. No pressure to keep a journal but it just helps to record the merry things in life. Also – Spring will be here before we know it. Hyacinths! Crocuses! Snowdrops!

  29. Rather than giving each other gifts for our anniversary, my husband and I have a journal where we write something we love about each other each year. Nothing fancy, just one thing + a photo of us from that year. The idea is that after we’ve been married x amount of years we’ll have a compilation of x amount of pictures and reasons we love each other.

  30. Yes! We do this at our house too. We have to say five things were are grateful for because the first two are always a given: “you” and “the dog”.

  31. I love this! The end of the day is my favorite part- taking a few minutes to reconnect and debrief about your day makes all the difference! I am going home and trying this tonight!

    P.S. Missed your posts during the break! So glad you’re back and excited about the new changes this year!



  32. That is so sweet. I am on a long-term relationship and we’re on the stage of talking and planning about marriage. This would be of a great tip not for our relationship but as for an individual, too.

    And as for my family, this would be something we should start doing. :)

    Thank you Joanna!

  33. This is such a great idea. It’s things like this that makes me look forward to getting married.

    xo Megan, Lush to Blush

  34. I think this is a wonderful idea! Even though it’s years later, I wanted to thank you for writing your posts about what you have gone through with postpartum depression. Ironically, the first post I had ever read of yours was the one about the new BHLDN dress line, and I was hooked thereafter. But I would be so down sometimes with my little one and in general and I’d feel so guilty, thinking, “This Joanna chick really has it together. What the heck am I doing so wrong??” I am also so glad to hear that you’re feeling better and coming out of that place. Blessings to you and your family as always <3

  35. These photos bring a smile to my face.

    And your pillow talk is such a great idea. I love it!

  36. I love these photos (so so lovely, truly) and this idea! This is something I would love to be better at. xo

  37. I’m sorry you’ve been struggling a bit of late and hope you’re doing better each day.

  38. I have been reading so much about marriages and ways on how to keep the romance going strong. I commend your honesty and great tip. My husband and I have made it a point to date more this year. We have a 10 month old and I admitted to him on our anniv that I felt I was an awesome mom in 2013 but a not so good wife. That took me back to our marriage counseling before we got married. So, we make sure to cuddle for 5 min in bed, plan small surprises, and have REAL kisses.

  39. When I was a little girl, my dad would put me to bed and then he would sit next to me and ask “What was the best part of your day?” “What was the worst part of your day?” and then I would ask him. It lead to a lot of good chats. I do that with my kids now. I love it.

  40. I just started a gratitude journal a couple weeks ago! I have the app Heyday, which lets me attach text to a collage (or single) photo from the day so I’ve been including my gratitude journal with that. (No, I don’t work for them; just enjoy the app). I found myself struggling with my emotions, I think because of Seasonal Affective Disorder (I’ve struggled with it in the past although not in recent years for whatever reason). So hopefully this helps!

  41. When I was a kid, when either of my parents put me to bed, they used to ask what I liked and what I didn’t like about today. I have a really good memory about those little pillow talks!

  42. We do something similar but at the dinner table and it involved our 2 boys, ages 9 & 11. We each say our favorite part of the day, our least favorite, and one thing we learned. This way we get to find out about their day at school (instead of a short “good” when you ask how their day way) and it’s a great conversation starter. The only rule is it can’t be recess or lunch! Cheers, Laura from

  43. Joanna, what a nice person you are. Alex looks so good in the photos; like a guy who really cares about you. I could say you are lucky to have each other, but that’s not it; the two of you really work towards building love and happiness. I wish you years of both

  44. This isn’t really a gratitude or cheering up thing, but a lot of times when we get in bed I ask my husband to tell me a secret or a story, meaning something I have never heard before. Something from his childhood, or about his family, or a dumb story from work (I used to work with him so know all his coworkers). It’s often hard to think of something you haven’t already shared with your spouse!

  45. That’s a wonderful idea! It’s just a small gesture and it only takes a few minutes, but I’m sure it does wonders and brightens your entire overall day. I hope I remember this little tip when I move in an S/O one day!

  46. Beautiful pics of you both! It always seems that when one of us is down or bummed the other is good and cruisin’. Which works because the one spouse always cheers the other one up and visa vera. I will always remind my hubby of all the amazing things we are blessed with in life and he in turn will make me laugh at te situation I may be in or help me look at it from a different perspective. I do not know where I would be without him!
    Cheers to you both. Lovely article Jo.

  47. About 10 years ago we started high-lows at dinner. Everyone takes a turn and we still do it every night. :)

  48. I love this idea and these pictures are beautiful.

  49. This is such a great idea! I use prayer to give thanks each day, but lately I’ve been focusing on ways that I can share kindness. I’m focusing on complimenting at least two people a day – genuine compliments that are specific to them. It helps me stay focused on looking for the positive :-) The pictures are gorgeous!

  50. How cute! You and Alex have the perfect relationship! It would be great to have a post on the struggles of a relationship with small children. Some days I really hate my husband! AWWWW. I guess its normal but would be great to hear about how people deal with the stresses of child rearing and couplehood.

  51. This is such an amazing idea. I tend to focus so much on the negatives of my day before bed. This would be a great habit to start (and hopefully maintain).

    Anna, I love your facebook idea! That is so brilliant. I should get some of my friend on board for that!


  52. I love this. We do something similar with our son (kindergarten) at dinner. We each say the best thing and worst thing about our day. (Worst part might help a child talk about issues. Thankfully ours always says “none”.). Anyways, this would be great for my husband and me…

  53. I love this. We do something similar with our son (kindergarten) at dinner. We each say the best thing and worst thing about our day. (Worst part might help a child talk about issues. Thankfully ours always says “none”.). Anyways, this would be great for my husband and me…

  54. I love this idea!!! Also I love the picture ya’ll took. The clouds reflecting from the water looks like ya’ll are on a deck of clouds!! Magical!! xoxo

  55. I did this for a while when I was going through a rough time in medical school. The added process of thinking about one thing you are grateful for about your spouse is also great. Too often we expect so much of that other person without appreciating what they already bring to the relationship.

  56. My husband and I do something similar ever since we saw a special about it on PBS.

    Here is the speaker:

    He’s written a book and has two degrees from Harvard about the science of happiness/positivity. (And his dad was my intro psych prof!)

  57. what a lovely idea!
    xo, cheyenne

  58. Lovely lovely post. Its funny Ive have a hard time over the past few years at seeing the positives at times and its been one of the biggest gains Ive got from writing a blog with my boyfriend. I find it really makes me appreciate all the little things we do and have. I think this is another great way to remember all the amazing things we experience Alison

  59. I love that idea! I’ll have to read it when I am married!

  60. My husband and I share our “pit & peak” of each day over dinner every night. I’m embarrassed to say we stole this daily tradition from Keeping Up With the Kardashians but, that part aside, I truly enjoy it.

  61. My boyfriend and I started this a couple of months ago, when I was feeling really down (I’d just lost my job). We say one thing that wasn’t so good that day, and then we say one thing that was good that day. We really like it, and it often sparks a bit of a bedtime conversation that we normally wouldn’t have.

  62. We pray together and also give thanks every night! I had post-partum depression as well as just get down n moody ever so often, and for me what helps is a crying session, a change of pace, and something to make me laugh (a funny movie/book). Also and most importantly is telling my husband how I’m feeling before I have a complete breakdown! He used to all the time say how long have you felt this way? So now I make it a point to tell him as soon as I’m feeling a gray cloud coming on and then we fix it (with a mommy day, visit to my mom, wine, etc). Glad you’re getting through it!!!

  63. Oh how I love this idea and what a sweet husband you have to do it with you.

    More importantly – so glad to hear you are feeling better! I can’t imagine having worked like you did with a new baby / toddler / husband / self to take care of.


  64. We have a family night once-a-week and part of it includes a section titled: What made you happy this week? We each go around saying exactly that – what made you happy. It really makes you think about your week and what really made you happy. Some weeks it’s been hard to find anything.
    I like your idea of doing it each night. I might change it to each night at dinner time. When the kids get older it might help us be able to find out about their day. Plus it’s a good conversation starter.

  65. I love this idea…My boyfriend hates pillow talk..I wish he did. I would love to review my day with him like this! =)


  66. Great idea. I understand if you were suffering from postpartum depression. It seems to me that you have a pretty charmed life, though. I could only dream of taking multiple weeks off during the holidays and traveling as much as you and your family travel.

  67. Love this! Are you still nursing? I remember you discussing the difficulties post nursing last time. Also fab photo.

  68. We do roses and thorns around the dinner table. Everyone says one thing that made them happy that day and one thing that made them sad/mad. It’s a great way to get kids to open up and it’s nice to reflect on the day since they go by so fast.

  69. I had some post-partum depression after my guy was born and it definitely sent my relationship with my husband into a not so good place. I like this tip and I’m going to start it tonight with my hubby. We’ve worked hard to get out of the funk and we’re looking for ways back to one another-thanks for sharing!

  70. Hi Joanna,

    We at Chronicle Books are big fans of you! Our own Gratitude Journal has been extremely popular, and we’d love to send you one! Just shoot me an email at

  71. My husband and I put our two boys (5 years and 17 months) to bed by 7 so that we can spend time just the two of us in the evening. I can’t tell you how grateful I am at the end of the day to have adult conversation (even if it’s just telling stories about what the kids did that day!), and just totally relax together. It makes me a better mama and an all around happier person.

    I love this tradition that you and Alex started, and I’m so happy that it’s helped get you through a tough time.

  72. You guys look like you are suspended in the clouds in that picture! Beautiful! By the way, I think Anton looks like Alex. Nice post, thanks.

  73. I love this idea. I feel like weeks go by during which I forget to tell Ben how lucky I feel to be married to him and how grateful I am for all of the things he does to help without me having to ask — not only things like the dishes, trash, and laundry but also (and more importantly) like picking up the baby while she’s crying (which he knows makes my blood pressure rise faster than anything else) when I’m trying to get dinner on the table and playing with Ella and Graham right when he comes home from work when they are so excited to see him. I think I need to institute this pillow talk immediately.

    This is sort of unrelated but in the same vein. When I was growing up, we used to play: Happy, Sad & Helped at the dinner table. We would all go around and say one thing we were happy about, one thing we were sad about, etc. We’ve started playing it with the kids, and although only Ella (age 4) can participate, it’s really fun, and just a nice way to reflect on the day and reinforce the mostly positive things that have happened throughout the day.

    So happy you are back!

  74. This idea is brilliant, and so mutually beneficial, too- I always feel better knowing my partner is feeling better. Thanks for the tips. And the photos are just splendid!

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  76. My family takes turns sharing their ‘highs’ and ‘lies’ for the day at dinner. The kids love reflecting on their day and I find they are always empowered by hearing that Mom and Dad have bumps along the road too.

  77. I love this idea! I always start a gratitude journal but forget to keep it up.

  78. This is the sweetest!! Love this idea. This year I’m working on journaling everyday and including little daily things I’m grateful for, but I love the idea of doing this out loud with my love each night. He could use more compliments, too! :)

  79. Beautiful pics…and idea!

  80. This is wonderful. I want to make more of an effort to tell people, including my husband, complimentary things I am thinking. For example, if my sister’s outfit looks killer on her, I want to tell her instead of just thinking it.

  81. So glad you are feeling better. My husband bought me a beautiful note book from Libertys (London store) and I have used it as a gratitude journal as a way of combating the January blues. You inspire many with this blog, I hope your followers give the same back to you.

  82. That´s sweet! We have another tradition that has been going on since we met 15 years ago; every night we give eachother a little back massage. Makes you fall asleep in the best of ways. :-)

  83. My husband and I , along with our 3 boys do what we call “best and worst” every night before bed. Each person takes a turn saying the worst part of their day and then we always finish by sharing the best part of our day. It seems to help everyone feel more connected.

  84. I did something very similar when I was working in an office that often got me feeling very frustrated and disrespected. I would sit in my car and, before even driving away, would think of (and Tweet, so my friends could keep me accountable to do so) 3 things that made me happy. Sometimes, they were things from the day, and sometimes I had to grasp for something from another day. It really shifted my mood for the rest of the day, just to move away from the things that bothered me and focus on the things that made me happy instead.

  85. I have been saying I was going to start a gratitude journal since the beginning of the year, and today I was walking around the lake (which was frozen solid) and it started to snow like CRAZY! It was so beautiful and it filled me with so much joy that I literally laughed out loud and said, “I’m grateful for this moment!” Having a three-year-old and one on the way means I don’t have many solitary moments to appreciate “just being”, and the snow and this post are a great reminder. :)

  86. I am so happy to read you are feeling better. You give us so much inspiration on a daily basis! To be perfectly honest, two of your posts (the one about ‘dropping your worries in the Grand Canyon’ and the one about you and Alex using the fire escapes to have a glass of wine) have marked some pretty defining moments in my life. I can’t thank you enough for all your sweet and positive messages you send out through your awesome blog! :) So, yes, I’m truly thankful for your blog! :) These tips are also awesome! XOXO

  87. I love this, Joanna! Glad you are feeling better!!

  88. jm says...

    i think gratitude journals are really useful. It is easy to forget the good things when we re feeling down. Sweet tradition you and Alex started – love it!

  89. This is very sweet! I’ll be making this a little ritual.

  90. Just the other day I was reading a news article about a journalist who decided to write a Facebook status of something she was grateful for every day for a year. I thought it was such a nice idea. :)

    My husband and I don’t list specific things we’re grateful for, but most nights we like to share stories about our day, and we often share funny little things that our daughter has done or said. I wish I could record some of those conversations to listen to again and again – it’s a little sad to think that we won’t remember them even a month down the track.

  91. I’m always impressed by how much difference it makes to have a little conversation with your partner right before bed or first thing in the morning. Even–or especially–when my boyfriend and I are busy and stressed and barely saw each other all day, those few moments are so restorative and grounding. I like this ritual!

  92. I LOVE this! Such a great idea. My husband and I always talk about our highlight of the day before we fall asleep and we always end up having a nice long chat about all the cool stuff our kids did and said that day. It’s nice to end the day with that in mind instead of all the terrible 3s stuff that it’s easy to get hung up on instead. I’m so glad to hear you are starting to feel better. You’re doing great! Hang in there! Gorgeous photo too!

  93. emilia, totally. i hadn’t even thought of that really, but it’s so true. it’s nice to talk about little moments from our days, too, that we wouldn’t really have said otherwise (like a funny toby story or a yummy lunch, etc.)

  94. amber, the photos are from our friend’s cabin a couple summers ago. it’s so awesome up there! we have to get ourselves invited back haha

  95. That’s a great idea! I love the photos too!

  96. I love the idea of a gratitude journal, but I think saying things out loud to another person is an even better idea, especially your SO. It’s great for both participants– you can hear some positive affirmations as well as dig within yourself and remember why life is good. Great post :-)

  97. i love this idea so much. i’ll definitely have to give this a try. the winter is always a tough time for me.

  98. That is soooo sweet. And the photos are amazing!

  99. I would love to start a tradition like that here at home. I think we could really benefit from that both in good times and in bad. Thank’s for the tip :)

  100. Some friends and I started a gratitude facebook group. We try to share 3 things we are grateful for each day. I like sharing them with others because it reminds me that I need to do it and it just happens that facebook is an easy low-pressure way for us to do it. Mostly I like it because now I am in the habit of thinking of things I am grateful for every day and I really think it has changed my outlook for the better.