Creating positive change is hard work.
It will take motivated and strong willed people to advocate for positive change in a marriage.
Especially if your marriage isn't great to begin with.
If you are that strong willed person who is ready to give it your all to improve your marriage then keep reading.
According to John Gottman, a happy couple has a 5:1 ratio of positive experiences with each other compared to negative experiences. For every conflict a happy couple might have, there are 5 positive experiences.
You might be thinking, well my spouse and I fight ALOT. We are going to need a lot of positive experiences to offset the negative ones.
You're exactly right.
To help you out,
Here are three tips for creating positive change and expanding your positive experiences in your marriage.
Compliment Your Spouse
I'm not talking just once.
I'm talking hundreds of times.
I tell my clients this in counseling sessions, “Compliment your spouse when you genuinely feel appreciation for them for something they do”. If you start looking for things that you appreciate in your spouse, you will find them.
You might actually find that you like your spouse more when you begin complimenting them.
Everyone loves a good and genuine compliment.
And when you start to habitually notice the good things in your spouse and let them know,
it makes them feel.
Wait for it.
If you don’t have a lot of experience giving compliments try these structured formats.
I appreciate it when you _________ and it makes me feel ______.
Thank you for _________. It really made me feel ________.
I wanted to let you know that I am grateful for________, it makes me feel _________ when you do that.
Let them know their work is not going unnoticed, and that it has a noticeable impact your day.
Appreciation and gratitude are a great way to start to turn your marriage around.
Things likely won’t change overnight.
Like turning a ship at sea around, it is going to take some time. But if you start building and banking these positive interactions together around the small things, you are heading in the right direction towards a happier and healthier marriage.
It may sound like silly advice to give.
You might think, If we could stop fighting we would have already.
Well, I want you to try again and here’s why.
Some studies show that around 70 percent of arguments revolve around issues that are unresolvable.
It is likely that the fight that you are in is something that cannot be resolved.
Put the fireworks away.
End the conflict before it begins or end it when it first starts.
Don’t let it escalate out of control.
One of the most powerful things you can do is admit, “I don’t think this argument is bringing us towards each other or towards a resolution, can we press reset and start over without fighting?”
Reset and move on.
Stop the fighting.
Invest in Positive Experiences
Invest your time and your money in positive experiences. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but do something.
Go get some coffee at that fancy coffee shop.
Go to the drive-in movies.
Ride a roller coaster together.
Structure time together where there are no responsibilities to think about for a short time.
During these outings,
Simply focus on each other and having a good time.
It IS difficult to prioritize your relationship. It will always be. There are a million different responsibilities that you and your spouse juggle. There are a million different things that are pulling at your heart.
It is essential that you prioritize your relationship, give your heart over to your partner, and plan positive experiences together.
The advice is simple.
Compliment your spouse, stop the fighting, and invest in positive experiences.
Don’t confuse simple with easy.
Committing to these things over a lifetime will be difficult. You will lose your way at times. You will find that during some seasons it is harder to prioritize your time. You will find at times that conflict can happen in the blink of an eye, but if you commit to these principles, you will see your relationship change from a distant and negative out of control cycle, to a positive and connected relationship.
Jesse is a Licensed Associate Counselor in Northwest Arkansas. When Jesse was growing up, he had people with deep character pour into his life, motivating him to be the change that he wanted to see in the world. Jesse wants to pass that on to others by providing encouragement, support, and smiles to the individuals he works with through counseling, volunteering, networking, and writing. Jesse believes every person has the ability to become the best versions of themselves given they take intentional action towards their goals, give it time, and allow themselves to experience grace along the way.