How to Put a Positive Spin on Your Marriage
According to Newton, an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted on by an external force. How does this apply to a marriage? Once a spouse is firmly entrenched in a negative state of mind, it is quite difficult for them to move from it.
It’s very easy, especially after an argument, to think about all the ways your partner has wronged you. Many of the people I counsel arrive with a whole laundry list to review. Why? In their mind, this list constitutes evidence that their spouse is at fault for the couple’s troubles. It validates their position. They become so invested in this blame game that they become trapped in a negativity cycle. If they can’t be moved in a positive direction, the marriage could be in real trouble.
Bursting the Bubble
To break through the negativity, I ask people to come up with 5 things their spouse did well during the week. There is often resistance (to put it mildly) to this proposal when the person came loaded for bear with their catalog of grievances. But I persist and offer suggestions for a starting point. “What does your spouse do that you are you grateful for? What efforts have you noticed that you appreciate? What strengths do they have that you often ignore? What constructive things do they bring to the partnership?”
It may be a rough 30 minutes, but eventually the client will come up with 5 positive things. Even if given grudgingly, this first step is enough to move the positivity dial an infinitesimal amount in the right direction.
Accentuate the Positive
To stay in a state of positivity, keep a thankfulness journal and try to make daily entries. If you’re thinking negative thoughts, you’ll view people that way and respond to them in the same manner. Where our thoughts go, there go our emotions and behaviors. Reverse the polarity of your thinking to positive and you can literally change the direction of your marriage as well.
Reduce Outside Negativity
Once these positive new habits form, how can you keep the momentum going? Have a date and make a rule: no negativity. For example, don’t discuss the news of the day with your spouse if it upsets them. Don’t vent about the person who cut you off in traffic on the way home. Don’t go on about the customer who gave you a hard time at work. Frustration is cumulative. There’s enough in the world and we don’t need it dragged into the house as well. Try to leave life’s irritations at the door. Home is supposed to be safe. A source of encouragement and love.
Hopefully, these tips will give you something to think about. Obviously, changing the direction of a marriage does not happen overnight. But just as negative thoughts beget negative actions, positive thoughts beget positive actions. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier over time. If you need assistance, one of our counselors is here to help.
Read more about Marriage Counseling and Therapy
- How to Maintain Harmony When a Spouse Goes Back to Work
- How to Handle Conflict with Your Spouse [Video]