Breaking Free of Negativity

A Great Idea …

“What exactly were these stable couples doing with each other to maintain a positive balance for their negative emotions? For one thing…they were far less negative than the couples who eventually split up. When they brought up disagreements, they were less extreme in expressing feelings like anger or frustration. They complained and got angry, to be sure, but they were less critical of their spouse, less defensive, less contemptuous, and they were engaged-not disapproving-listeners. (Marriage researcher, John Gottman, in his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, p. 58)

In Other Words …

When conflict comes in a relationship-as it inevitably does-the couples that survive are those who remember the positives and manage their anger.

We often assume that if we have as many positives as negatives in our marriages, we’re in good shape. That’s not true. When there are as many negatives as positives, the relationship is in serious trouble. For a relationship to be stable, it needs lots and lots of positives-in fact five positives for every negative. Relationships thrive in positivity.

How This Applies to You…

Your mind has great power. You can dwell on the problems and disappointments in your relationship. You can talk endlessly about the negative. Or you can set your mind to be grateful. You can choose to notice and appreciate the good times in your relationship. Instead of making a sarcastic remark, try to remember your partner’s good qualities. Instead of making a smart-aleck comment, try to understand your partner’s point of view. This small effort is likely to be rewarded with greater love and closeness.

To Find Out More…

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families.

For an excellent books focused on marriage, read Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

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