Is Negativity Hurting Your Marriage?

Ways to Be More Positive

Angry couple
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Negativity can come in the form of cynicism, criticism, whining, attacking, pessimism, discontent, perfectionism, and hyperintensity. All of these behaviors can push people away, including your spouse.

"Research indicates you can get mad as hell or avoid conflict altogether. But the positivity must outweigh the negativity by five to one."
Source: John Gottman, Nan Silver. "What Makes Marriage Work?"

Mar/Apr 1994.

Ask Yourself These Questions

  • Do you find yourself in a bad mood on a regular basis? Do you dwell on bad things or painful memories?
  • Are you critical of everyone in your life? Do you look at incidents and events from a negative perspective?
  • Are you a perfectionist? If someone says, "Good Morning", do you wonder what's good about it?
  • Are you quick to say "No" and rarely say "Yes" to requests from your wife or kids?

If you answer yes to most of these questions, your negative personality could be having a harmful impact on your marriage.

Change Your Pattern of Negativity

If you are chronically negative, you can change your pattern of negative thinking. But you have to want to make this change. Here are some things you can do to be more positive:

  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Be more accepting.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Be willing to forgive both yourself and your spouse.
  • Practice mindfulness.
  • Exercise.
  • Do something each day to make you smile. Keep this simple, like listening to a favorite song, spending time on a creative hobby, watching a funny video, or taking a bubble bath.
  • When you feel a negative response entering your mind, question it. Force yourself to think of something positive instead.
  • Volunteer your time and do something for others.
  • Stay in contact with positive people.
  • Remind yourself of things you are thankful for.
  • Honestly compliment your spouse whenever an appropriate opportunity, such as succesfully completing a difficult work project, presents itself. 
  • Be open to seeking professional help.

Help Your Negative Spouse

If you are married to a negative personality, you are not responsible for making him/her feel better. However, here are some things you can do to help your spouse be more positive:

  • Do not take the negativity personally.
  • Remember that the negativity is your spouse's problem, not yours.
  • If your spouse rejects your offers of help, don't over react.
  • Spend time with positive folks. You will need some time off from your spouse's negativity.
  • Invite your spouse to take a walk with you at least once a week.
  • Acknowledge your mate's positive accomplishments.
  • Encourage your partner to try new things.
  • Don't be afraid to say "Enough!" and change the subject to something more positive.
  • Be open to seeking professional help.