Don't let these bad thoughts ruin your marriage.
After the honeymoon period in a relationship is over, and our partner raises complaints about us or does things we don’t agree with or is somehow absent, we often start to make or draw slightly negative conclusions about them or the relationship.
Typically it starts off as a thought one day, but if their actions continue to match it, we can start to think that way about the relationship or them. Negative thinking doesn’t only affect you, it can kill the connection, communication, and passion if the thought patterns become habitual.
It’s so important, I dedicate a whole section on this in both the "ultimate marriage connecter" and "save my marriage online program" because it’s critical. Repetitive negative thought patterns can literally kill the relationship and pave the way for divorce.
1. Generalizing and assuming the worst of your partner
When you make generalizations — "they ALWAYS do this" or "they NEVER do that" — in a negative way, you are judging, exaggerating, and focusing on the negative. Which is likely to affect how warm, affection and kind you are to them. If you say to yourself time and time again:
- "They never make any effort."
- "They ALWAYS have to be right."
- "They're lazy."
- "They're taking me for granted."
- "They NEVER want to be physically intimate."
- "They're moody."
- "They're selfish."
You’re not alone! But do you see, if you repeatedly think or say this to yourself, how it will affect what you notice and how you treat them? What do you think it does to your partner if you think the worse of them?
It feels terrible to have the worse thought of you and let’s say even if you're right, thinking the worst of someone is not going to inspire them to change, which is really what you want…
It’s when you lift them up, trust, and empower them by thinking the best of them — that will raise their standards. If your spouse knows that you expect the best from them, they won’t want to let you down, so encourage and appreciate what they do well rather than criticize what they’re not doing.
2 Comparing them to others
"If only they were more like Susan’s husband." Or "If she looked after herself like Rachael, I wouldn’t be like this."
Comparisons are pointless, degrading and unfair. Every one of us is unique, shaped by our own unique experiences and interpretations of the world.
Instead of wasting your time wishing your spouse was more like someone else, share the traits you admire in others and positively motivate your spouse to change their behaviors. When a "if only" thought comes up, switch your focus to something special you admire and love about your partner.
3. Fantasizing about being with someone else
I’m not talking about idly daydreaming about what it might be like to date Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, or any other celebrity you’re attracted too. What I’m referring to here is thinking about or longing to be with someone else.
This will not only create distance between you and your partner, over time it can kill your connection and attraction, which will enviably damage the marriage.
When men and women share this with me in my marriage counseling private one-to-one sessions or couples therapy online program, I ask them to explore what it is they feel is missing and would like to change.
Then we look at ways to make this a reality in their marriage. If this is resonating with you, use it as a tool to strengthen your relationship, start by giving whatever it is you wish to receive.
4. Expecting them to know what you want
"They should know what I want." Or "They should know what to do."
It’s not only unfair to expect your partner to know what you want or what to do, it’s unrealistic. Most of all thinking this way harms you. It’s frustrating to think like this, it winds you up and like all of the above thinking like this doesn’t change anything.
Free yourself, by expressing and explaining things calmly and affectionately, to help them help you.
5. Comparing your relationship to the beginning
Over-analyzing about how great things used to be and how they have changed or asking yourself "what happened to us?" is a sure way to make you feel down and hopeless about your marriage.
Don’t get me wrong, it's great to remember and share the good times, this can strengthen your marriage! What you want to avoid is making it seem in your head like that was the last of it and as though the good times are over.
In couples therapy, I ask those I work with to each share their happiest times and we discuss how to create more happy moments in the present and future.
As you can see, thoughts are powerful, they affect how we feel and what we are motivated to do. The good thing is our thoughts can be changed with awareness and refocusing them, thereby changing our experience of the relationship and stopping divorce.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I admire you. as it takes a great deal of self-honesty to grasp that we could be causing damage to the relationship with our thoughts... as well as courage to change them.
Here is my personal tip that I apply in my own relationship when any negative thought comes up I ask myself: How is this helping me? Or the relationship?
Then I answer in my head, "that’s right it’s not" and it goes away, leaving me to focus on what I want rather than what I don’t want.
Nicola Beer is a Marriage Transformation Specialist and Founder of Save My Marriage Program. Take the QUIZ now.
This article was originally published at savemymarriageprogram.com . Reprinted with permission from the author.