Tag Archives: healthy marriage

Are Your Personality Traits (and Your Spouse’s) Viewed Negatively or Positively?

My husband and I assisted with a marriage conference last weekend led by Dr. Tim Heck, LMFT. One takeaway we learned is that our view of our spouse’s traits is often skewed. When we are dating, these traits skew very positively in our minds, and at times during the marriage this remains true. However during the days or years when we may be disenchanted or displeased with our spouse (or even just because we have been together for many years), our perception of those traits may skew negatively.

For example, I tend to be a tidy person. I like things fairly neat and in their place (although my desk is often piled with files and projects and some areas of the house are less than perfect). Being organized/tidy can be viewed as a positive trait. My husband might appreciate that I keep up with the laundry and not allow the house to become a complete disaster, and that I teach the kids to pick up after themselves. However, he could also see the trait as a negative and view me as a “neat-freak” or controlling or having too high of standards. He may see that I get anxious when things are very messy and see that as fault.

His perfectionism is great when it comes to making a home improvement just right or when an important purchase must be thoroughly researched. However, when standards for unimportant things are terribly high, the trait can be seen as compulsive or critical.

In this way, literally all of our traits can be viewed with both a positive and negative lens. Even kindness and compassion may turn into a complaint that you neglect yourself or your immediate family to take care of others. Being hardworking may be viewed as workaholic. A very social person may be criticized for not making enough one-on-one time with her spouse. A serious person may be seen as too high strung, while a funny person may be seen as not serious or driven enough.

If you have a frequent complaint of your spouse, consider trying to look for the positive side of his or her traits. If he sometimes works late, consider that he may value being a provider and keeping a good job. If she is a saver and doesn’t want you to spend money on unnecessary items, perhaps she values economic security and careful financial decisions. Whatever traits your spouse possesses that sometimes irritate you, try to flip them and see if you can find a positive angle. You did this when you were dating, and it’s one of the reasons you selected your mate without seeing a long list of faults.

Share with your spouse on or two traits for each of you that you sometimes see the bright side of, and sometimes see the down side.

What traits do you have that are sometimes viewed negatively? What traits does your spouse have that you used to view positively, but sometimes see negatively?

Read The Importance of Playful Partners by Simple Marriage. I often forget about the need to add good, old-fashioned play to our relationships. Good ideas here.

Check out Blindly Driving a Marriage to its Death and then Blaming the Victim by the Generous Husband. Is it possible you’re feeling disprespected at work and that putting that on your spouse?

Photo courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net.

Six Super Factors for Healthy Spouses

Happy Life: Happy Marriage Series

Feet, forks, fingers, sleep, stress and love. These are the six super factors that Dr. David Katz of Yale Prevention Center recommends to add years to our lives, and life to our years. For singles and marrieds alike, good health is a tenet of happiness. In addition, healthy spouses put a lot less burden on a marriage than do ill spouses.

Without further ado, here’s an explanation of the six factors:

1)       Feet—Get regular physical activity. This is associated with controlling weight, reducing inflammation, enhancing immune system and reducing cancer risk

2)       Forks—We generally know what we are to eat to be well, but we need to make conscious decisions each day to eat well and to be active.

3)       Fingers—Never hold a cigarette in your hands (and although he doesn’t mention it, avoid secondhand smoke).

Note: Adhering to the above three behaviors reduces our risk of all chronic diseases by 80 percent.

4)       Sleep—Ensure adequate quality and quantity of sleep for better psychological, immunological and neurological function. (We also know that poor sleep is bad for the marriage, particularly when the wife sleeps poorly.) A cancer risk is suggested when adequate sleep is not obtained.

5)       Stress—When we don’t properly manage stress, we may become hormonally imbalanced and/or have increase risk of inflammation or cancer.

6)      Love—Dr. Katz explains, “We are, from our earliest origins, social creatures much influenced by our relationships with others. While love may seem a “warm and fuzzy” topic, it is in fact the cold, hard scrutiny of clinical trials demonstrating that those with loving relationships are far less vulnerable to chronic disease and death than those without.”

We know that a loving relationship is good for your health. Do your best to cultivate loving feelings and loving actions, rather than waiting for someone to prove their love to you on a daily basis.

Dr. Katz says incorporating all six factors into our lives actually alters our gens to reduce risk of chronic diseases including cancer.

“I hasten to append to this paean for the power of lifestyle a proviso: there is never a guarantee. Think of it this way: lifestyle practices are the ship and sails, but there is still the wind and waves. The former we can control to increase the probability of a safe crossing; the latter, we cannot — and thus even a well-captained ship may founder.

Are any of the six factors in need of attention in your life? Consider engaging in activities with your spouse that help you achieve the super six. For example, take a walk together, go to bed early (sleep and sex both reduce stress), quit smoking, shop for and cook with healthy food (and toss out the junk), increase the physical touch in your relationship, and use words of gratitude and positivity with your spouse.

Speaking of stress, where do the world’s most stressed women live?

A must read for all parents: How to Land Your Kid in Therapy” from The Atlantic. Could it be that by protecting our kids from unhappiness as children, we’re depriving them of happiness as adults? Yep.

Photo courtesy of Stockvault.net by Trankov.