Some credible scientists now claim that it is YOUR attitude that makes or breaks your marriage. Could it be true? First, let’s look at the evidence. Then, we can draw some fair conclusions and discover what any relationship partner can do to make things better.
Researchers from the University of Chicago have recently reported that in long-term marriages, the mental health and personality of the husband may be crucial to avoiding conflict and getting along.
The study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family surveyed adults who were participating in the National Social Life Health and Aging Project. It compared the characteristics of husbands and wives whose relationship lasted an average of 39 years.
Professor of Urban Sociology and director of the Center on Aging at NORC Linda J. Waite, said the type of conflicts examined had to do with whether a spouse makes too many demands, perpetually criticizes, or gets on the others nerves.
When the husband showed a higher level of positive personality traits, the wife in a couple reported less marital conflict (no surprise here). Interestingly, the woman’s level of positivity had no effect on husbands’ reports of conflict in the marriage. In other words, if the man is a pain to deal with, the woman considers this a problem to be solved. If the woman is a pain to deal with, the man doesn’t complain.
I can hear the men saying, “Of course, I don’t let things get to me and I don’t whine about stuff. Yet, when I act negatively, I hear all about it! Why can’t she just let it go and move on?”
Answer: Because you haven’t changed into a more positive, connected and emotionally available person and she won’t be satisfied until you do. She wants a positive relationship in which she feels safe and connected to you. Your chronic negativity and emotional unavailability won’t fly. And you know what, she’s probably right. You deserve the same in return, even though it might not be your priority in life.
The bottom line has do with how satisfied you are with your partner. Are you satisfied? If not, then take some challenging yet very constructive steps to assess the chances that your marriage can improve.
Here is what I suggest:
1. Without reservation, invest your conscious effort over time, focusing on your partner’s positive attributes, giving warm feedback, showing appreciation and being a GREAT person to be around. (If you simply cannot do this, then you may be self-sabotaging from the get go and need to address the self-sabotage before you can make progress.
2. Notice what happens over time. Most likely, one of the following scenarios will happen:
A. Your partner will respond in kind, increasing happiness and fulfillment in your relationship. This is a WONDERFUL sign. You now know what you can do to increase your mutual joy and create positive loops in your relationship.
Bingo! You’re on your way toward greater happiness and satisfaction.
B. Your partner will not be affected, and may pretend not to notice.
C. Your partner will resist your efforts and become even more negative, distanced or troubled.
If you know you’ve been a great partner, yet cannot create a positive loop in your relationship, then there are deeper issues to look at. For example:
Are the boundaries clear enough to honor each individual in the relationship, or are you trying to control each other?
Self-Sabotage and Psychological Attachments
Self-Sabotage compels people to do the opposite of what makes the happy. It is driven by psychological attachments to old, familiar states of misery that we are not strong enough to let go of. We unwittingly sabotage our happiness and chances for success by subconsciously clinging to an old story, a familiar misery or what we’ve always known.
It could be that both you and your partner are simply not compatible. In other words, it is nobody’s fault. You just don’t see life the same way. Of course, choosing and clinging to an incompatible person could be an example of self-sabotage.
Where do you stand in your relationship? The first step to making relationship life better is to know how to answer this question.
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