Research shows that, on average, most couples have around ten issues that will reoccur throughout the lifetime of their marriage. The issues may get better at times, seem worse at others, and one or two may even go away at some point.
The good news is that your relationship issues don’t have to define your marriage. You can actually change how you think about and deal with the issues. In fact, what you choose to focus on will dramatically effect how you feel about your partner and your marriage. And, actually it has more to do with how your brain works.
For example, have you ever thought about and decided on the next car you’d like to have. And, maybe you’ve even chosen the color of that car. Amazingly, the car you’ve selected, in the color you want, seems to show up wherever you go. It’s like magic.
No, it’s not really magic. The same cars were always there, it’s just that you weren’t as interested in them before, so they all faded into the background of your surroundings. Your particular car didn’t become significant to you, or your brain, until it became the focus of your attention.
So what has this got to do with your marriage?
It has to do with what you focus your attention on in your relationship.
Imagine several of your marriage issues sitting before you, each in it’s own color coded file folder. Opening a file folder means that you are thinking or talking about that issue. Imagine that you have all ten file folders open, all the time. What would your relationship be like? Because what would you be thinking about and talking about most of the time? The issues.
Who would want to be in a relationship where most of your attention and focus centers on the negative issues of your partner or the marriage?
When you allow yourself to continually and repeatedly mull over the the issues of your relationship you ensure that you will have negative feelings about your partner and your marriage. And, eventually, it’s going to show up in undesirable behavior towards your spouse.
Here’s a 4-step process to think about and possibly deal with your issues in a more constructive manner:
Step 1: Create file folders
Think of each of the issues in your relationship as a separate file folder or like a file on your computer. Color code each file, if you’d like.
Step 2: Be aware of opening the file
Be mindful of the amount of time that you are thinking about or talking about the negative issues in your relationship. And, notice if you have some purpose with your thinking or talking other than to ruminate about the issues?
Step 3: Close the file
This may take some practice in the beginning. When you first discover yourself thinking about a relationship issue, without any positive purpose in mind, imagine yourself closing the file folder and putting it away. Or, pick some visual that works best for you, as long as you visualize yourself closing and putting away the item that contains the issue. Repeat as necessary.
Step 4: Change your focus
After closing the file and putting it away, pick one thing that you love or appreciate about your partner and focus your thoughts on that.
So when do you open your issue files?
Only open one of your issue files if you are going to do something productive or positive for your relationship regarding that issue. And, I suggest you just open one issue file at a time.
Some examples of opening one of your issue files for a positive purpose are:
- Journal about the issue
- Have a conversation with your partner about the issue, that you both agree to have
- Look at how you might be contributing to the issue
- Consider the issue from the the other persons point of view, standing in their shoes
- Brainstorm some healthy ideas that may help to ease the issue
Remember, focus on and give attention to what you want to make significant and meaningful in your relationship.
Let me know what you think.