If your spouse were stuck in the relationship with you–would he/she be stuck ON you?
The infatuation stage is over. You feel as if you found your soulmate and made him/her yours. You married and enjoyed perhaps another year of bliss. Then it hit the fan. That person who so completely filled you up now seems to be so different, and so annoying. Or you’ve been married longer term and you can’t stand the person sitting across the breakfast table from you, and you can’t wait until the kids leave home so you can make your exit.
If you could save your marriage and be happy would you?
Putting aside here that there are some good reasons to leave a relationship and we’re assuming that those conditions are not present in your relationship. Conditions like ongoing physical or emotional abuse, serial affairs, addictions, or safety issues all of which have proven to you to have no hope of change. (Again, we’re assuming here your relationship doesn’t involve these issues).
What if all you have to do is imagine there are no options–that you’re stuck. Humor me for a few minutes and just imagine you’re stuck with this person, and you have to make it work. You aren’t allowed to divorce because the laws don’t allow it, and anyway, a vow to love someone no matter what– is a vow. No going back.
You have to be “All In”. As in “Go Big, or Go Home”.
3 Things You Can Do:
1) Think Creatively. Imagine you have to be creative in how to be happy with this person because you can never divorce them, or leave them to live somewhere else without a divorce. What do you think would be the affect on your relationship? This video that Dr. Dan Gilbert created on the findings of neuroscience about happiness may surprise you.
Now, even though I have confidence in the scientific findings of Dr. Gilbert, I don’t believe that all you merely have to do is imagine you’re stuck! Do you?
Maybe, but great relationships require constant renewal to make it. Constant renewal from day one; not when the first signs of boredom, or sameness, or routine, or stress from children, or avoidance of conflict, or when interest in someone else sets in.
Thinking creatively is part of what is required.
2) Mind Your Focus. A finding in the field of neuroscience, called the Zeno effect, can go a long way to help create a great relationship. The Zeno effect shows us that what we focus on expands. Focus on the positive and it expands. Focus on the negative, and it expands. Moreover, neuroscience tells us we need to find three positives to focus on for every one negative to overcome the affects of the one negative in our beliefs, thinking, and behaviors. It takes five positive felt emotions to overcome one felt negative emotion to flourish.
A willingness to not focus on the negative aspects of your spouse, and train yourself to focus constantly on the positives, and vocalize these positives as appreciations to your spouse will surprise you in effectiveness of helping you remain close. What you appreciated from the moment you laid eyes on each other, what you love about your life together even if it’s only the way he/she puts on their coat prior to leaving, appreciations for helping with the children or chores, for the little things they do they don’t think you notice. Appreciations for who they are for you in your life.
3) Celebrate the small stuff weekly. Research on relationship longevity shows that when we can feel generosity of spirit when our loved one does well, and celebrate that with them, it makes them feel more loving toward us. Also, couples who take time to plan little celebrations together, such as, getting the loan approved, getting all the chores done in the home for the week, the children did well this week, the flowers in the flower garden you planted together are beginning to bloom, seemingly insignificant anniversaries, will tend to feel closer and stay together longer.
Now, I’d like you to scroll down to the comments, and please let me know your biggest take-away about anything addressed here. What struck you the most, was most pertinent to you, peaked your interest? Also, feel free to ask me a question in the comments that you would like me to focus on in my next blog post.
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Thanks a million!