3 Tips To Improve Your Marriage
A 3 Part Series
Welcome to the second of this 3 series post on ways to improve your marriage this year.
Let’s face it, all of us who are married want to have a great marriage. Without intentional care, conscious choices and love our marriage suffers a slow death. How many years have you coasted along without consciously prioritizing your spouse and your marriage? How often do you find yourself focusing on all the problems that exist in your marriage? When was the last time you turned a negative situation into a positive solution? Even the strongest, healthiest marriages face problems but how a husband and wife choose to maneuver these problems is the difference between life and death for their marriage.
Here is the second of 3 tips to improve your marriage this year.
2. Focus on Solutions not Problems
This step has more to do with ourselves than our spouse. But let’s face it, no one is perfect and if we work on growing ourselves personally, our spouse and our marriage reap the benefits.
What do the majority of us do when problems arise in our marriage? What’s the first thought you have when adversity appears at your doorstep? We all face problems and adversity differently. The key to success in our marriage and each of us personally is to never lose sight of the fact that there are two ways to approach a problem.
We can grow and prosper by consciously choosing to focus on solutions or we can spiral deeper into despair by focusing on problems. People are wired to automatically respond to problems with a negative attitude versus a positive attitude.
Psychologists Paul Rozin and Edward Royzman proved in recent research that a negative perspective of a situation is more likely than a positive perspective in the majority of people studied. Another study by John Cacioppo showed that our attitudes are more heavily influenced by bad news than good news. A study of positive attitudes and negative attitudes revealed that our language almost dictates the auto pilot negativity. In the English dictionary there are far more negative emotional words than positive emotional words, 62 percent negative, 32 percent positive!
Our brains are divided into separate systems for positive and negative stimuli. The amygdala uses approximately two thirds of its neurons to detect negative situations and experiences. Once the brain focuses on the negative experience it is stored into our long term memory rapidly.
Positive experiences must be consciously held in our thoughts and minds for more than 12 seconds in order for the transfer from short term to long term memory.
Psychologist Rick Hanson describes our brain process like this: “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.”
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi contends that unless we are consciously occupying our thoughts with positive thoughts, worrying is the brain’s default position. Negative emotions always have the ability to override positive emotions unless we choose to stop those thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts and emotions.
Finding solutions to problems in our marriage is imperative for our marriage to grow and prosper. We need to understand that focusing on the problem usually only makes the problem grow. Instead, the key is to focus on a SOLUTION to the problem.
Think negative thoughts only run through YOUR mind? Research proves 80 percent of all our thoughts are negative. We humans have between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day.
According to research, almost 98 percent of our thoughts are exactly the same thoughts we had the day before.
Negative thoughts about our problems usually flow from either dwelling on past mistakes, problems or guilt. Or worrying about the future and the fear of what may or may not happen.
Here are 5 tips to help you focus on solutions
1. Avoid going over and over in your mind the past negative event or problem.
2. Focus on what can be done now in a proactive manner for the desired solution.
3. Know your thoughts and apply the rule of 180. If your thoughts are consumed with what can go wrong or is going wrong, turn your thoughts around, go the opposite direction and focus on what can go right.
4. Pay close attention and get to know your thoughts. Just like we acquire all habits, our minds are habitual. Our thoughts repeat themselves like a record playing the same habitual old tunes over and over. Repeating thoughts produce repeating results whether positive or negative.
5. Step outside of yourself and become a curious observer of your thoughts and emotions. Become an impartial witness and observe the habits of your thoughts. Once these negative thought patterns are identified they can be redirected towards positive solutions.
Be patient with yourself. This will take time and effort but the goal is to identify the habitual negative thought process and start to turn it from it’s usual course to a new path of solution oriented thinking.
Once you have developed an inner awareness of your thought process you can mindfully and consciously begin to choose a thought pattern towards solutions instead of problems.
The goal here is to focus our thoughts on constructive solutions rather than destructive problems.
A new thought process can offer a wide range of solution oriented mindfulness. When we learn to focus on solutions instead of problems we add peace, freedom and joy to our own lives which ultimately improves our marriage.
I challenge you to start carefully observing your thoughts. Are they helping you towards solutions or are they taking you back through the same problems of yesterday. You can control your thoughts. Once you control your thoughts you can use them to find solutions to move you and your marriage into growth, prosperity, freedom, joy, happiness and love.
Please leave a comment below and let me know what solutions you would like to work on and what problems you would like to stop your thoughts from focusing on.