In my marriage presentations, I have often discussed the tendency for what we focus on to seem larger and more important. So the individual who focuses on a fault of their spouse will see it gaining prominence and importance. And a couple that is constantly analyzing their relationship’s problems may start to see the marriage as a big failure.
The Generous Husband’s recent post on this topic rang true for me. In Change Your Focus, Change your Marriage, the post reminds readers that when they buy a new car, they seem to see that car everywhere, but the number of those cars on the roads hasn’t changed. In the same way, focusing on pet peeve of your husband’s can begin to drive you crazy, while focusing on a good quality or characteristic can help you notice the positive trait more often.
Changing your perceptions can change your reality. Many issues in marriage are what are called perpetual issues that won’t go away given more attention. They tend to be differences in temperament (driven personality vs. laid back) or preferences (I like things very neat vs. I will get to the dishes later). Whether you are a planner or more spontaneous in nature, nagging from your spouse probably won’t change that tendency. While we don’t want to ignore major issues, these minor issues shouldn’t eat up all of our emotional energies.
Instead, we can devote time to having fun and doing things together that we enjoy. We can give our spouse the benefit of the doubt and try to recall loving actions and positive qualities that they have.
Consider whether certain things in your marriage are unnecessarily taking your attention away from the important stuff. Is there an area that is getting too much of your focus? Is there an area you would like to grow that is not getting enough attention?
Read more on Dr. John Gottman’s solution to handling perpetual issues causing gridlock.
Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.