Every relationship has it’s ups and downs and takes work – there’s no getting around it. But oftentimes, the key to a healthy relationship lies in you and your partner’s perspectives. There are going to be times when conflict arises or your loved one irritates you – and vice-versa.


But how you approach the situation in your mind can determine how the conflict will go. Every relationship has conflict, but not all conflict needs to be destructive to your relationship.


A Negative View

Your perspective, however, can make all the difference in the world. Simple conflict doesn’t have to spiral down into what Drs. John and Julie Gottman call “Negative Sentiment Override” or NSO.


NSO is a distortion of your view of your partner. It’s not just always seeing the worst in your significant other. It’s an over-riding sense of negative regard, where even neutral or positive actions from your partner are skewed in your mind to be perceived as negative. No matter what they do, you perceive it as a negative thing.


What that does is remove your ability to empathize with your loved one, stopping you from giving your partner the benefit of the doubt. Your foregone conclusion is that you are somehow being wronged/accused/misunderstood/etc and immediately become defensive. This can lead to more and more conflict over even the most harmless of events. And that is not a healthy relationship.


Keeping a Positive Perspective

We often talk (even on this blog) about how important one’s perspective is in healthy relationships. Keeping yourself (and your partner) in a positive perspective can be difficult at first, but immensely important in maintaining a happy relationship.



Positive Sentiment Override (PSO) or the Positive Perspective is something that couples can work on every day. - Maureen Werrbach, LCPC

And what’s more is you can even experience “Positive Sentiment Override” where your automatic reaction is not negative, but positive.


Positive Sentiment Override (PSO) or the Positive Perspective is something that couples can work on every day. Having a Positive Perspective of your partner and your relationship helps to more effectively problem solve during conflict, make more repair attempts (an action or statement that aims at reducing escalating conflict), and generally see your partner in a more positive light.

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So how do you do it?

In the above quoted article from the Gottman Blog, they offer 3 ways to keep yourselves in a positive perspective.


  1. Let Your Partner Influence You – accept their opinions and ideas
  2. Show Your Appreciation – tell them daily what you appreciate about them
  3. Respond to Emotional Cues – eye contact, smiling, validation


Read the entire article to learn more about the 3 methods mentioned above. The important takeaway here is that by keeping yourself in a positive perspective you’ll be able to nurture a healthier and happier relationship.


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Darren Wilk, Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) and Co-founder of Bestmarriages.com, has been working with marriages and families since 1988.   This includes being a foster parent providing care as a professional parent loving and inspiring children with various challenges.

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