Tuning Up Your Marriage – Where’s Your Focus?

by Dana Boyle on December 1, 2011

It’s easy to focus on the negative.  Most of us are hard-wired to walk through our days pointing out what we don’t like and what we don’t want.  Think about your typical day.  How often do you complain about something, or at least think a negative thought about something?  How often are you annoyed, frustrated, or impatient?

Let’s imagine a typical day for a lot of people.  You get up for work (this sucks, wish I didn’t have to get out of bed…I hate having to work!!!), you get ready (I wish my spouse/kid would hurry up, get out of my way, be quiet, turn off the morning news, and I wish I was thinner so my clothes would look nicer, I have nothing to wear!), you warm up your car (this darn weather!  Why does it have to be so cold and windy?!), you drive to work (am I surrounded by idiots?  Wtf people, it’s the vertical pedal on the right!  Get out of my way!!), and on and on throughout your day.  Right?

It’s no surprise that as human beings with this common experience we would be the same way as we experience our marriage and our spouse.

It can look a lot like:

Can’t you chew quieter?  Do you have to watch THIS?  Stop tossing and turning so I can get some sleep!  Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.  Can you stop nagging me about x,y and z?  Do I have to do everything?  You said you’d be home at 6.  You bought what?!!!  You don’t even act like you love me.

You get the picture, right?

This kind of thinking and the feelings that go with thoughts like these are poison to your marriage.

Did you know that what you focus on gets bigger?  What you are constantly thinking about you get more of?  It’s magnetism – physics.  If you don’t believe me, try an experiment and pick something simple you want to see more of.  Say, a silver BMW or white toy poodles or frogs.  Pick something easy like that.  Then think about that object every day for 17 seconds.  Sit down and focus on it.  Just 17 seconds.  Picture your item, the color of it, its shape, see it in front of you.  Then just go about your business and watch how many of that item shows up as you move through your days.

My point is, if you are focusing on everything your spouse does that annoys you, frustrates you or makes you feel unloved or disrespected, guess what you’re creating?

If you want to improve your marriage, just one simple step can turn it around.  Notice what you are focusing on, and then consciously focus on the positives.   (It works even better if you’re both participating.)

Remember when you were dating?  It was so easy to focus on the positives, right?  It came effortlessly.  They were so romantic, funny, attractive and attentive to your needs back then.  They listened to you, did things with you all the time, and you had so much fun together.  You thought positively about them so much that you wrote them love notes, bought them flowers and surprised them every chance you got, didn’t you?

Imagine if you did that today.  What if you picked out five things you like about your partner every day and you took the time you usually take to ruminate about how annoying they are and instead rampaged (even all by yourself, even if it’s just in your head or on a journal page) about how wonderful they are and how grateful you are for them?

What do you think would happen?

I’ve challenged myself to do this.  I’ve asked clients who come to me alone to ask for help with their marriages to do this.  I’ve seen it shift things.  Suddenly, the person they were so disillusioned with is shiny and new again, or has a new luster.  The things you’ve been taking for granted become things you notice, and as you increasingly notice them, you can’t help but have good feelings about them.

Know what happens when you start having good feelings about them?

They pick up on it.  They like it.  Who wouldn’t like it if you’re feeling all warm and tingly bout them?  It’s much easier for them to reciprocate those feelings when you’re feeling that way.  Magically, their positive characteristics show up more frequently and you see them as the wonderful person you married, or an even better and more evolved version.

Don’t believe me?

I dare you to try it for 30 days!

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