While rereading John Gottman’s book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” I’m reminded of the importance of creating a positive relationship so it can weather the rough parts of life, family, and love.
What does a positive relationship mean in practice? It means focusing on what is good about your partner. It is recognizing the positive things that happen or are done. Positive relationships are nurtured by compliments, affirmations, and having fun together. When you do something for your partner “just because” or when you remember things they like and act on them, you are keeping a positive flow between you.
This positive relationship flow keeps things from blowing up or falling apart. When the relationship is positive overall, then little things don’t escalate. Even better, the bigger problems are worth working on and repairing so you can get back to the positives. A positive relationship is your relationship immune system.
In other words, being in a positive relationship is rewarding, resilient, and motivating. Hurtful things are the negatives: complaints, contempt, sarcasm, put downs, looking down on your partner, nagging, telling them repeatedly how wrong/bad/sick they are. These and many other negative patterns kill your relationship. Each time you are negative you take a chunk out of your relationship immune system. Unfortunately, couples usually come to me after they have destroyed any feeling of positive and their relationships are very ill.
Take a serious look at the positives in your relations (and life). Ask yourself, “How do I build a positive atmosphere around myself and in my relationship?” Be honest and recognize when you are negative, and think of ways to edit or change those moments. Your relationship immune system will thank you.