Marriage is not about keeping score. However, the positive and negative comments we make certainly do add up. Even if you compliment your spouse once or twice a day (thinking you are doing SUCH a good job), a criticism or complaint can negate those positives.
Remember that experts say successful marriages have five positive interactions for every one negative interaction. (Read Avoid Divorce with 5:1 Ratio.) And a ratio like that takes effort. The negative interaction may be addressing a concern one of you has, but it should still be communicated with love.
Remember that game of “s/he loves me, s/he loves me not” where you remove petals to decide if someone loves you? It reminded me of a similar analogy. Envision that you give some daisies to your sweetheart at the end of the day. Each time you roll your eyes, complain, criticize, ignore, lecture, or tease, you’re removing a few more of those petals. Each time you praise, act lovingly, hug/kiss/touch, speak respectfully, cherish, adore, appreciate you preserve those petals. At the end of the day if your bouquet is dismal at best, your spouse may not feel very affectionate or welcoming of you. When you’ve had many loving interactions during the day, this communicates care, concern and love.
Especially harmful to men are comments that leave them feeling disrespected or unappreciated, while those that are especially harmful to most women cause them to feel unloved or unattractive.
Loving communication is not about being right or wrong. It is about being considerate and aware of your partner’s feelings, even when you have to address problems.
When you are preparing to react negatively, give your spouse the benefit of the doubt that their motives are good. Instead of being defensive, try to understand where they are coming from.
Surprise your spouse with honest compliments, positive text messages or emails, notes of appreciation, and hugs or kisses for no reason. You can focus on the love language that your partner most enjoys, but expand to other areas as well. (Read What is Your Love Language?) For example, if they like acts of service best, they may also enjoy words of affirmation.
How can you communicate your love today?
Lori Lowe is the founder of Marriage Gems and 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 all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.
Photo by Dan with freedigitalphotos.net