Relationship Resolution 5 ~ Be Positive

Lesli Doares Res 5 pic“I don’t want you to go.”  Several years ago I was working with a couple who were not in a good place. She was going away for the weekend with her friends. Her husband said to her, “I don’t want you to go.” What he meant was that he would miss her. What she heard was that he was forbidding her to go. They ended up not speaking for about a week.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation. Over time, relationships start to deteriorate because couples lose sight of the positive things their partners do. That’s because of the power of the negative.

Beliefs.  Happiness studies show that it takes three positives to balance out one negative. It takes four or five positives to shift the balance for the better. Once a person starts down the dark path, however, it changes the lens they view their partner through. Your beliefs influence what you pay attention to so if you start to believe things are bad, you will find evidence in your partner’s behavior to support that view. It then takes conscious effort to acknowledge their positive u

One of the best ways to keep this from happening, or change it once it starts, is to identify what you know about your partner. What attracted you to them in the first place? If they were truly mean and uncaring would you really have married them? Are they good parents? Do they treat their friends and family well? Are they well thought of at work? While they may be putting their best foot forward, it’s unlikely they are a completely different person in those situations.

Our Interpretation.  Another client was experiencing her partner in a very negative way. I suggested she might want to open her focus to see if she could find any positive behaviors. She was pleasantly surprised when she realized that he had bought a towel warmer and put her towel in it every morning because she didn’t like being cold when she got out of the shower.

You see, when we don’t know why someone is doing something, we fill in the blanks with our own interpretation. If there are two ways to view a behavior, what you believe about that person will determine which interpretation you will choose. Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt is a loving thing to do. It will also benefit your marriage because your actions in response will be more positive as well.

Some ways to be more positive in your relationships include:

  • Week 1. Write down the qualities that attracted you to your partner in the first place. Look for how those qualities are showing up today. Acknowledge their presence.
  • Week 2. Identify at least three positive behaviors you see from your partner a day. Write them down.
  • Week 3. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt when you are unclear about why they are doing something. Assume they have good intentions and respond accordingly.
  • Week 4. Examine your relationship for the 5:1 positive to negative ratio. Aim for your relationship to be good 85-90% of the time. If you’re short of that, pay attention to what your partner would see as a positive and do more of those.

How are you doing? We’re half-way through the resolutions and I hope you’re seeing a difference in your relationship. I would love to hear what’s working.  Be sure to listen to my podcast below that compliments this blog.If you have questions or want more on how to make your marriage great, leave a comment below or contact me through

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