This will be the final installment of our series, how to communicate with your partner. The last topic we are focusing on is positivity. There is no doubt that a positive outlook on life has plenty of rewards. People who maintain a sunny disposition and in general find the brighter side of life enjoy better emotional health. The rewards of positivity go beyond just your own emotional heath, increasing positivity also results in a longer lifespan, reduced risk of cardiovascular complications, increased resistance to illness and more.
The question remains though, is positivity an expression of happiness or can it create more happiness. In her often cited paper on positive thinking, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson says “positive emotions signal optimal functioning, but this is far from their whole story. I argue that positive emotions also produce optimal functioning, not just within the present, pleasant moment, but over the longterm as well.” What if you were to apply this idea to your relationship. Many couples struggle with where to start when conflict and strife have become the norm in the marriage. A wonderful place to start is with positivity. When you are struggling with how to communicate with your partner and are stuck wondering how to open the door to conversation, up the positivity. Not only will up-ing the positivity make the day to day experience of your relationship a bit brighter it will increase the overall health and stability of your marriage.
Positivity is an action you can take to learn how to communicate with your partner.
Here are 5 actions you can take today to shift the positivity meter in the right direction.
1. Limit negative self talk about your spouse. When your spouse says or does something that makes you angry do you mumble something under your breath or think something negative about them? This kind of self talk can create and allow you to harbor negative feelings about your partner. Instead, take a moment and check in with yourself. Why are you angry, are there unresolved feelings that you need to address with your partner? Or, is it something you can simply let roll off your back?
2. Aim for a 10 to 1 ratio of positivity to negativity. At Power of Two, the ideal ratio is 10:1. This means for every 1 negative interaction there should be at least 10 positives. Take stock, keep a tally (even for just one day, or better yet a week) reflect on what a 10:1 day looks like in comparison to a 1:1 day.
3. Stop the jokes. Couples know each other intimately, this means the good, the bad and even the ugly. It also means a spouses and partners are in a unique position to poke fun at each other. Joking about your partners habits, appearance or mis-steps can seem light-hearted and even endearing, in truth it is harmful to the fabric of your relationship. Instead, try making a habit of finding the things you love about your partner and telling them. Not only will it help you focus on the positives, it will change the climate of your relationship dramatically!
4. Take care of yourself. Negativity can be creep in anytime, especially when life gets tough. Stress over bills, family obligations and the like can get you down and it is easy to place that negativity on your partner. When you feel run down and overworked your spouse or partner is an easy target. On the flip side when you take care of yourself physically, eating healthy, exercising, getting enough rest, etc. you will have better coping skills and will be more equipped to see the glass as half full, stay in a positive mind set and have a healthy marriage.
5. Spend time with positive people. Positivity is contagious. Systems theory suggests that when one part of a system changes, the other parts of the system will necessarily change. When one partner focuses on being more positive the mood of the entire household will be uplifted. In addition, spending time with people who are positive will increase the positive outlook of all involved.