The Power of Positivity in Relationships

Margi DehlinParenting, Relationships2 Comments

Recently, John and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We were but wee babes when we began our story together. I personally don’t think time together in and of itself is something that warrants public approval, as there are plenty of unhealthy relationships out there that last for decades (and that feels truly tragic). Don’t get me wrong, we have had our share of rough times. Truly. But all in all, I think our relationship has changed for the better as we have committed ourselves to the work we continually need to do as individuals and as a couple. And might I say that I do wish to stop and take a moment to honor that? Celebrating milestones is one way to bask in how far we have come! Whether it is a new job or an award or a newfound hobby or the reaching of a goal or the sharing of vulnerable emotions–how we react to our partner’s successes can be an indicator of how healthy our relationship is.

Positivity as a Mindset

Personally, I have found that my mindset has everything to do with how I experience those around me. I can be centered in gratitude/abundance or scarcity. And those around me can definitely feel the difference. Brene Brown talks about this principle by using the term, “generosity.” When I view my partner’s behavior, do I assume the most generous version of my loved one or the least generous? If I am constantly assuming the least generous interpretation, I am likely in a critical or scarcity model. Now, I am not suggesting that if you have an unhealthy marriage to just adjust your mindset and everything will be fine. There are times when it is imperative that we seek greater support in the form of coaches, therapists, meditation, and better information. And quite frankly, some love does not last in a marriage construct (and is no less real for it). But if you have a marriage built on common values, companionship, and solid communication–your brain may be a key player in how your process and experience your relationship. For example, depending on my mindset, I can see John as a workaholic or someone who is passionate about his work. I can see John as brooding or attempting to process difficult experiences that are crucial to him living a life according to his values. You get the idea, right?

Numerous studies point to the power of celebrating the positive in marriage (I provide a couple of links at the end of this post!). Have you heard of this before?? It turns out that positivity is a superpower of sorts. And luckily, it is a choice, plain and simple. But don’t mistake me, plenty of things are simple and incredibly challenging. The decision to focus on and truly value the good in our partners is a discipline–something we must commit to each day. Why? Well, because of how our brains work, naturally. There are books and podcasts galore for you if you would like to jump into this rabbit hole. It is a worthy one, for sure.

A Few Simple Ways to Celebrate the Positive

  • Actively feel and express appreciation to your partner. Texts and handwritten notes are especially lovely. Some people use dry erase markers on their bathroom mirrors.
  • Share gratitude lists for one another WITH each other. Be specific. Sometimes, John and I will do this on our walks together.
  • Celebrate your partner’s victories with him/her in an active way. Be excited. Share. Bask in the good.
  • Schedule fun time together weekly, if possible. I mean it. Get your calendar out and plan it. Otherwise, it likely won’t happen. Do you love movies? Food? Nature? Exercising together? Whatever you enjoy–create a space for it. Life can feel stressful and serious as we struggle to balance work, health, relationships, and personal time. Allow for spaces of pleasure. Connect. Laugh. Share. These times can serve as glue for a relationship.

This Scientific American article inspired me this week, as did this one from the Chicago Tribune. Feel free to delve a little deeper if you are interested. Relationships are an integral part of our growth and happiness as humans on this planet. Why not put a little time and effort into them?

What are your thoughts? How does mindset affect how you interpret your partner’s behavior? What are some things you value most in your partner? Are ways you could be more positive in your current relationships with those you love?

2 Comments on “The Power of Positivity in Relationships”

  1. I love your uplifting posts! So deep and real! One thing I have noticed in the brief time I have spent with you and John is that you are an active and intent listener. I think that focusing on the person you are listening to is super important. My memories of you are of giving sympathy from your eyes to John when taking about painful memories, and smiling at happy ones.

  2. That is so kind, Dana. Thank you for your support–and your comments!! Being an empathetic (and active) listener is a crucial skill with regard to intimacy and relationships, as well as mirroring (where you literally mirror in your facial expressions what you are feeling from your partner). Such an important point! I am extremely human and flawed at both. Believe me. But I appreciate you highlighting a positive in our relationship!! Ha!

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