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Topics: Sex Therapy, Managing Conflict, Family Mission Statement, Family Culture, Healthy Relationships, Conflict Resolution, Happy Relationships, Marriage Issues, Breaking Habits, Bad Breakup, Emotional Safety, Appreciation and Gratitude, Eliminating Negativity, Invisible Abuse, Anxiety, Finding Love Again, Forgiveness, Relationship Therapy, Couples Therapy, Recovering from an Affair, Self Care, Healthy Connection, Healthy Communication, Human Connection, Mental Health, Male Sexuality, Mental Fitness, Gender Bias, Sexual Fluidity, Digital Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence, Monthly Digest, Imago Relationships
One of the best things you can do for your marriage and for your overall happiness is to actively cultivate an attitude of gratitude. It requires some dedicated focus, but it’s much easier than you think!
Here’s an example why:
Last year we decided to paint our house gray, so we looked at many shades of gray at the store. We even compared all the gray houses in our town, and then one day I noticed the perfect shade of gray on a parked car - so I took a picture! I was relieved and never thought about finding that perfect color again. Yet, my brain took over and for the next two weeks, I somehow noticed 10 gray cars.
The point of the story is that you’ll always find more of what you search for in life, and your brain is very helpful in noticing things you want to pay attention to and looking for evidence to support what you already believe. This action in our brain is called confirmation bias, and it relates to our personal relationships as well.
During the time our marriage teetered between renewal and divorce, we were visiting a book store when we happened on a book about how astrology affects relationships. Just for fun, we opened to the page where our two astrological signs intersected. Then we read, “You will destroy your relationship unless you stop the unrelenting negative scrutiny of each other.” We were stunned. And then we laughed. We knew the book had gotten it right.
For a time, we were quiet and separate as we turned our thoughts around those words. That sentence fell like a bombshell because we knew it was true. The more we thought about it, the more we realized we had to stop what we now call the “invisible abuse” of belittling, negating, and undermining each other. We started by trying to be more aware of what we were saying, what words we used. We worked out a plan to monitor ourselves for negative behaviors, and negative thinking. In the beginning, as we tried to stop, we grew to realize our negativity seemed to have a life of its own. We then realized we were addicted to our negativity. This just had to stop.