It’s during these times that the durability and fortitude of a relationship can be seen. Conflict is going to happen but it doesn’t have to last and turn into bitterness and resentment.
As we learn to find and accentuate the positive in our relationships they become more satisfying and when conflict emerges it’s easier to work through.
According to an article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (2009), “a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments predicts long-term marriage stability, while a ratio of 0.8:1 or lower predicts divorce.”
So, what are you focusing on in your relationship?
If you tend to notice and point out all the negative traits about your partner it may be time to reevaluate your focus.
To help you focus on the positive aspects of your partner, here are few suggestions:
Let Go of Grudges: Everyone makes mistakes, and forgiveness is key to a healthy relationship. Get a blank sheet of paper. Write down the grudge your holding onto about your partner and circle it. Around this circle make another ten circles. In each surrounding circle write positive traits, qualities, and attributes about your partner. Make effort to focus on all of these positive qualities instead of the one negative thing they did or said.
Use Active Constructive responding: It’s a great feeling to share our good news with others, and there are many different ways we can respond to this good news. We can passively respond and not show any real interest, or we can really express our enthusiasm for the good fortune of our partner. In order to cultivate positive emotions practice responding actively and constructively when your partner reports positive events. Use your body language and tone of voice to reflect you really care and happy for them.
The Three Good Things exercise: Gratitude is a great way to focus on the positive. Take time each night to write down three positive things your partner did that day. They may have said something nice, did something kind for you, or showed generosity to someone else. Whatever it was write it down to remind yourself of what you appreciate about them.
Identify and focus on your partner’s strengths: Using the 24 signature strengths identify your partner’s top three strengths. Focus on these and help your partner to use these in day to day life. Using signature strengths in relationships can help both partners experience more positivity and meaning.
Using these techniques can help to stabilize conflict and prevent a downward spiral of negativity. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, so don’t overlook all the positive qualities that your partner truly amazing.
Photo credit: gareth1953
Kauffman, C. & Silberman J. (2009). Finding and Fostering the Positive in Relationships: Positive Interventions in Couples Therapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65 (5), 520-531.