Have you ever tried to rescue a relationship with someone you lost all respect for, intensely disliked and made you want to scream every time you thought of them? It’s damn near impossible. This is why the second principle of making your marriage work is: Nurture your fondness and admiration.
To put it simply, John Gottman, PhD, says in his book, The Seven Principles for Making your Marriage Work, “having a positive view of your spouse and marriage is a powerful buffer when time are bad. “
Unfortunately, there are couples where either one or both individuals hold so much anger and resentment for the other, that eventually the contempt ruins any chance of salvaging the marriage. The individuals are blinded to any positive aspect of their partner and only see the negative. This is detrimental to the marriage.
Here’s a simple test to see where you stand in the fondness and admiration department: When you recall memories of your partner, for example, your wedding or honeymoon, are the memories positive or negative? Do you recall them with great detail? Or is the memory a bit fuzzy?
Couples who are happily married recall past, happy memories as just that. They are usually clear and remember in detail. Even if the couple is having trouble currently, they are able to look back and see the happy memories as they were. In contrast, couples who are not happily married usually have trouble recalling happy memories, or remember the memories as negative. This occurs because the disgust and disrespect they feel for each other has destroyed the positive memories of the past.
If you realize you can’t think of one happy memory of your partner, all hope is not lost. The following exercises were created to help you rekindle the fondness and admiration for your partner:
- Come up with one positive trait of your partner. If you’re currently in a state of rage over your partner, coming up with just one trait you cherish in your partner can turn things around for you. Once you have that trait, spend time thinking about it, talk about it with your partner. Concentrate on it. Soak it in.
- Talk about happy events you two have shared. The wedding, honeymoon, birth of a child, fabulous vacation, etc…Talking about such memories helps bring them to the forefront of your brain and makes way for positive thoughts while squeezing out the negative ones.
- Retrain your brain from thinking about your spouses negative characteristics to focusing on their positive ones. Do this by writing down one positive thought about your partner each day. It could be that you’re attracted to them, that they did something you were proud of, that you’ve created a family together, etc… Then repeat that positive thought to yourself many times a day. This will help break that cycle of automatically having negative thoughts about your partner. According to John Gottman, PhD, concentrating on the characteristics you dislike will undoubtedly leave you feeling “isolated and distant in your marriage”. And we certainly don’t want that!
Without respecting and admiration for your partner you have no real foundation for a fulfilling relationship. So get to work. A happy marriage awaits you!
Contact Jenna for a FREE Relationship coaching consultation.
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