Last week, we talked about how changing your perspective can truly change your relationship. It’s amazing how perspective can influence what you see and how you feel to such a great degree. That’s why we wanted to build on that idea with some actionable tips to help you become happier in your relationship. Think of this week’s post as a sort of “part 2” to last week’s topic.
Over time, we as people change. It’s a fact of life. If you could ask the you from 10-20 years ago some life questions the answers would probably be much different than from the you of today.
Add to that our changing expectations over time and it’s a dreadful mix. Do you remember how at the beginning of your relationship you were much more likely to let little things slide, or see the good over the bad? After a few years, that attitude and perspective can change. You start to expect more of your partner. The “cute quirks” can start to become annoying and irritating.
And so what was once a blossoming, fiery love can become a dimly lit flame struggling to stay alight. It doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that there is something wrong with the relationship. It could all be a matter of perspective.
Sure, there are some negative situations where perspective doesn’t play a role. Abuse or constant neglect, for example.
But for many who have become used to only seeing the bad in their partner, it truly can be a matter of toxic thoughts influencing your reality. And a fresh perspective can actually make you fall back in love.
When a couple feels like friends they tend to let things go and give their partner some slack.- Darren Wilk
Here’s what our very own Darren Wilk has to say about this:
John Gottman calls this concept being in a negative absorbing state. It means that we distort reality to fit our current feelings about the friendship. In other words you always find what you look for.
When a couple feels like friends they tend to let things go and give their partner some slack. The Gottmans are famous for watching couples and video taping them in their natural environment, like home.
Kinda creepy but do you know what they discovered?
When the couples watched the video tapes of their own interactions, the couples who did not feel like close friends only noticed half the good stuff going on between them that three objective observers noticed.
When couples got along, they noticed 86 percent. What this means is once in a negative perspective couples distort reality, which creates a vicious circle of negativity. Bad stuff sticks like Velcro.
So couples need to not only change their perspective, which is difficult to do, but also change their friendship, which is easier. How to do that will be the focus of future articles.
Darren is absolutely spot-on with this analysis. And though it is difficult, there are some ways you can help change your overall perspective.
Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D. from Psychology Today thinks the remedy to these toxic thought processes is actually quite simple: “gather evidence to dispute them.”
Toxic thoughts…are simply distorted explanations for how you experience your partner’s actions, words, and behaviors. What most people don’t ever realize (but how exciting that now you will!) is that challenging your toxic thoughts with sound, positive, alternative explanations based on evidence and not emotion will make your relationship stronger and more rewarding.
Bernstein almost suggests acting like a defence attorney or expert witness called to testify on your partner’s behalf. Gather evidence to refute the negative thoughts you have about your partner. He continues…
When it comes to toxic thoughts like “He’s constantly criticizing me,” I say put your money where your mouth, is but with a twist. I ask that prove that your partner is not always criticizing you.
Wait a minute! Shouldn’t that be the other way around? Don’t you need to prove that he is constantly criticizing you? No, and here’s the reason: Once you’re in the throes of toxic thinking, you’re already going to be so honed in on evidence that supports your toxic claim that he’s constantly critical (He told you last week that you talk too much and the week before he said you’re always frowning…) Instead, you need to gather evidence against your toxic thoughts by challenging your interpretation of your partner’s words or actions.
Here are 3 things Bernstein suggests you keep in mind when trying to do this:
- Come up with 3 exceptions to your partner’s negative behaviour
- Pretend you’re an unbiased third party
- Write it down
Read his entire article here to get more information on how you can be do this effectively. It can take a high degree of empathy to pull of, but can change your entire relationship.
Seeing your partner with fresh eyes (a fresh perspective) can take you back to how you once felt. It can put the focus back on the things you truly appreciate about them. And it can make you more understanding of those “cute quirks” and “irritating annoyances.”And being understanding is the first step in helping change that.
Perspective is powerful. It’s the simplest way to truly fall back in love.