Are you feeling discouraged about your marriage and ready to throw in the towel?
Take a time out to consider these techniques to show you how one of you can bring the two of you together.
Let’s focus on how to use your negative emotions to guide you to a better marriage.
Do you feel chronically angry at your spouse and hopeless about your relationship’s challenges?
Are contemplating divorce?
Anger does not mean it’s time to fight. Hopelessness does not mean you should just give up on saving your marriage and get divorced.
Remember that throughout all of life, we average about 50% negative emotions/50% positive emotions, although the percentages up or down continuously shift.
Read those feelings of anger and hopelessness as flashing yellow warning lights.
It’s time to take action.
Write out a list of all the things you’re feeling angry or hopeless about
List all the issues that you have been arguing about or giving up on.
Include the issues that upset your spouse as well as the ones that irritate and frustrate you.
Keep the focus on yourself: become “self-centered”
Notice that when you feel angry, your focus will tend to be on what your husband does or doesn’t do that frustrates or annoys you.
Focusing inwardly on your own concerns and desires.
Go back to your list and ask yourself, “With regard to this issue, what do I want?”
Are you writing what you want your husband to do differently?
If you have been writing “I want him to…” you still need to shift your focus to yourself.
List only what you want your own behavior to look like, not his. Here’s an example.
- Self-centered: “I want to find a way to keep our bedroom more neat and orderly.” Thinking this way keeps the focus on you.
- Husband-centered: “I want him to stop being so messy and to clean up after himself” which trains the focus on your him.
Ditch your Manual
Even though you may have a long list of expectations and needs for happiness in your marriage, the best case scenario is that you can only make requests of your husband.
And don’t make it mean something dreadful about him or your marriage if he chooses not to comply.
We can’t control any one else’s behavior, only our own.
We have 100% control over the stories and interpretations we create and what we make them mean.
If we tie our happiness to someone else’s behavior, we have handed over all our power to create the life we want to them.
This is a recipe for disaster.
Attempts to make your partner change invite defensiveness and resistance
Use your energy to figure out what you want and what you yourself might do differently to get it.
When you look at what you might do differently to get what you want, there’s hope for progress.
Stay in the calm, cool and collected zone
Easier said than done, but…
Negative comments relentlessly erode your relationship.
If there have been months or even years characterized by a preponderance of criticism, complaints, blame, accusations, anger, sarcasm, digs or snide remarks, you are reinforcing a negative pattern.
Take comfort in the fact that due to your brain’s neuroplasticity, can change how you think, feel and behave with intentional effort.
When arguments heat up, call a time out for the sake of your relationship.
Re-engage only when you can speak calmly and constructively
A simple way to stay constructive in sensitive conversations is to pick from one of these three potential sentence starters
- “I feel…”
- “My concern is…”
- “I would like to…”
Understanding each other’s concerns is essential for the two of you to create a win-win resolution.
No more angling to get your way no matter what. Instead, strive for both of you to feel some degree of satisfaction, relief or peace with your decision.
Ratchet up the positive energies you show your husband
- Smile more
- Kiss more
- Hug more
- Show more appreciation for specific behaviors
- Dwell on the things you like about him
- Help each other out more
- Praise or compliment him more
- Laugh more
- Find areas in which to agree more
- Have more fun together.
The more positive efforts you make, the more potential for a shift in the heavy cloud of negativity that has settled over your relationship.
The Magic Ratio predicting marriage survival
Marriage researcher John Gottman finds that marriages generally survive if the ratio of positive to negative interactions is five to one. At a minimum.
But if thriving is your goal, aim for a much more generous ratio.
You can never go wrong building up your relationship “savings account” for the times when debits are unavoidable.
What differences between you and your husband are stressing out your marriage?
Notice your differences.
Express your underlying concerns.
Ask about and create a list of your husband’s concerns.
Create a plan of action responsive to both your concerns.
Feel some shared satisfaction that you’ve resolved a problem that’s been bothering you.
Need help creating your plan of action?
Let’s take a closer look at what’s possible right here.