For a happier marriage –Think positive     

Couple holding hands
Couple holding hands


Negativity kills love. It can quickly sour a marriage. Negativity is devastating. It sucks the life out of a marriage and can even lead to divorce. Although negativity does cross gender lines, most men comment more on their wives negativity than the other way around. Wives tend to point out their husbands insensitivity, stubbornness and silence, but husbands usually stick to negativity when complaining about their wives.

A prominent psychologist and marriage and family counselor in America, Dr. Steve Stephens, says “I have counseled many men who sit in my office and say things like “nothing will make her happy.” ”No matter what I do, it is not good enough,” “If everything I do is wrong, why try?” He continues, “You must understand that most guys truly want to please their wives, but if they are regularly confronted with negativity sooner or later they give up. They stop disciplining the children, initiating sex or talking to their wives altogether because they are simply faced with too many negative responses.

Negative words or actions can leave deep scars. Even when the negativity is subtle, it still stings. In fact, research shows that it takes eight positives to make up for a single negative, so if you put down your husband in frustration, you will need to compliment him eight times to make things even. Negativity is a tough habit to break. There are so many ways you can be negative towards your spouse. You can be critical, bitter, argumentative, grumpy, sarcastic, short-tempered, passive-aggressive, unresponsive, impatient, cynical, complaining, unhappy, resistant, sharp, nagging, ignoring, defensive or frustrated and these are just a few. Some of you are very skilled at one or two of the negative behaviours on the above list. Maybe this is due to your personality, your genetics or your childhood but you don’t have to let it continue.

Starting today, you can confront your negative patterns and create something more positive. Stress is a major factor that can steal your ability to be positive. Of all the people who show up at Dr. Steve Stephen’s office, about 80 per cent struggle with some sort of stress reaction. Their stress might come from work, finances, family, friends or even their love life. But whatever its source, stress has a way of making life miserable. Among other symptoms of stress, three of the most common are Impatience, Irritability and Intolerance of things you would normally ignore.

If you find some productive ways to manage your stress, you will probably begin to see a decrease in your negatively. When you start to feel overwhelmed, try a few of the following ideas.

  1. Take a break 2.Go for a walk, 3.Call a friend, 4. Read a book or magazine 5. Write in a journal 6.Relax in a bathtub 7.Exercise 8.Count your blessings 7.Watch a beautiful movie.

Another way to decrease your negativity is to consider your frame of mind. Dr. David Burns in his book- “Feeling Good,” suggests that people become negative as a result of cognitive distortions. These include;

  1. Overgeneralisation: This occurs when you see one isolated negative as a never-ending pattern of darkness.
  2. Mental filtering: You do this when you pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively absorbed by that one small detail.
  3. Disqualifying the positive: This occurs when you reject positive experiences by insisting they don’t count for some reason or another.
  4. Magnification and minimisation: You do this if you exaggerate the importance of negative things and shrink the importance of the positive.

If you see yourself in any of these examples, you can start today to reverse this way of thinking. As you recognise these patterns and challenge these cognitive distortions, you will be more apt to think positive.

But thinking positive is not just about avoiding stress or cognitive distortions; it requires you to focus on the best qualities of life. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes that he has learned how to be content regardless of the circumstances. (Philippians 4:11).

The key is focus. He says to fix your thoughts on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praise worthy (Philippians 4 :8). In any marriage there are going to be disappointments, hurts and frustrations. If you focus on these, I guarantee you will become more negative. But there are also a lot of good things to focus on, things like the eight qualities that Paul mentioned (listed above). If you focus on these, you cannot help but be positive.

The bottom line is we are attracted to positive people and we tend to avoid those who are negative. Right now, make an effort to smile and joke and encourage your spouse. It will make you more attractive and you might be surprised at how it can make the most difficult situation beautiful. As the brilliant Sunday comic philosopher, Ziggy, once said “you can either complain that rose bushes have thorns – or rejoice that thorn bushes have roses.”


  1. Talk to your spouse about the times in your marriage: When you have been the most negative. What triggered your negative attitude? How can you avoid those triggers in the future? With your spouse, explore ways to turn your attitude towards the positive.
  2. Agree to play a “positive-building” game with your partner. Each time either of you say anything negative about anything, that person must put one Ghana cedis in his own personal money box. When the box is full, his spouse decides how to spend the money.
  3. Look at the four negative distortions and determine which one you struggle with most often. Then ask your spouse to help you find something positive to say each time he/she hears you fall into an attitude of negativity.
  4. Make it a goal to come up with twenty-five positive things in your life

If you do this every day for one full month, you will be amazed at how much more positive you will see the world.


Source: Ghana/ Hansey

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