With all the talk lately on gratitude and the positive benefits of expressing thanks in our lives, I’m skipping my planned exercise and inserting this one. Whether you’re joining me for the first time or coming back, welcome to How to Improve your Marriage: Exercise #3.
I knew someone once who loved to complain about their spouse. Every day, this person would look for negative things to tell. Each day the items got worse as if the negative had to one-up the previous day’s complaint. This carried on for months until their marriage ended in a divorce.
Maybe the spouse was really terrible, or maybe looking for the negative can turn anyone into a demon. My husband isn’t perfect, and I’m sure he’s super flawed like the rest of us, but I don’t see it. We decided before we got married that we wouldn’t complain about each other to anyone else. And we don’t. Maybe I tease occasionally about the cupboard doors he leaves open after making a sandwich, and he probably does the same with my inability to remember analogies, but we don’t ever have gripe sessions with others.
If we have a problem, we’ve always approached each other and spilled what’s bugging us. Does it hurt? Sometimes, but it’s like a band-aid, fast and done. And then we move on, happier than we were before.
Discuss this article with your spouse and decide to stop the negative spirals of complaining to others about your partner (if you’re already a pro keep reading for an additional exercise for this week). Recognize that change takes time. Don’t expect your spouse to change this practice overnight. Give them space and grace to overcome, and give it to yourself too. You don’t have to be perfect today or tomorrow, just shooting for it.
Once you’ve eliminated the negative, focus on the positive (or rather sprinkle it starting now). Like last week’s exercise, pointing out the best qualities in your spouse on a regular basis can help you see those traits and forget/ignore the others. When you feel like the luckiest person in the world because you’re with another human being blessed with divine gifts and the potential to smooth out rough edges, it’s amazing what that can do for your relationship.
I hope you’ve enjoyed How to Improve your Marriage: Exercise #3. Change takes time and is full of small and simple things. But everyone is capable of change if they want it.