Are you familiar with the expression: “familiarity breeds contempt”? This expression suggests that the better we get to know someone – the less we like them. Has your marriage suffered from this familiarity?
With the passage of time, our partner’s personality traits and quirks we initially found endearing – become annoying.
And before you know it, we become intolerable of our partner’s imperfections. This intolerance can erode not only our love for our partner, but our ability to be even be friends with them – the sure kiss of death for your marriage/relationship.
Following are 3 powerful & simple tips to stay emotionally connected with your partner throughout the passage of time - so you can keep your marriage strong.
1. It is critical to remember that some of the personality traits that you initially fell in love with in your spouse are the same personality traits that will drive you crazy in the future (and research backs this up).
Remember how you use to laugh hysterically at your partner’s dumb jokes. When you first met your partner you laughed at these jokes not because they were so funny - you always thought they were dumb, but you didn't care. You were enjoying their sense of humor and found it endearing that they thought these dumb jokes were funny.
And guess what, your partner didn't know you didn’t think their jokes weren’t funny! Why? Because you were laughing!
Fast-forward two years into the relationship and now you find their same dumb jokes, well, still dumb. But now, you might actually find them somewhat annoying and downright stupid - and they may even piss you off a little bit.
This confuses your partner because you use to laugh at their jokes. Now they don't understand why you don't find them funny anymore. Remember, your partner didn’t know you never really found their jokes to be funny in the past because you never told them.
The next time your partner tells a dumb joke – remember – you use to laugh at them! And it is totally confusing to your partner that you don’t laugh at them anymore.
So give your partner a break when they tell their dumb jokes. Either come clean and tell them the truth - i.e. you never found their jokes funny in the past or just let it go. Is it really that big a deal?
It makes absolutely no sense to get angry or annoyed at their jokes. This reaction is totally counter-productive to your relationship. It will create an emotional wedge between the two of you - which can become a great divide over time.
2. Accept your partner’s quirkiness and idiosyncrasies. Okay- I am going to just come right out and say it.
You are out of your mind if you think you are going to fundamentally change your partner. Period. It just isn’t going to happen.
Just as they are not going to fundamentally change you!
Chances are you fell in love with your partner aware of their many little quirks and annoying habits. (I’m not talking about serious psychological issues here.)
By the way, you have your own annoying personality quirks too!
If you thought you were going to change your partner’s fundamental personality – you were mistaken. Just as your partner is not going to change yours!
Therefore, make the conscious choice - yes, you have a choice - to not allow these quirks and habits to drive you crazy. No matter how annoying you might find these habits to be, you are not going to eliminate them from your partner’s personality. Trying to do so will only create tension and emotional distance in the marriage!
3. Focus on the positive qualities of your partner.
By the time most couples seek out my help, they have become so entrenched and focused on all the negative things they cannot stand about their partner – that they’ve lost all perspective on their partner’s positive qualities and attributes.
This is not usually done consciously. It happens slowly, over time.
Focusing on only the negative qualities of your partner - and your relationship - is incredibly damaging to your relationship – weakening your positive emotional connection and replacing it with a negative connection.
Again, you have a conscious choice to shift your focus away from the negative and towards the positive qualities of your partner and marriage.
Positive Psychology tells us that when we focus on the positive, that is, in fact, what we see.
This is not to say you should ignore the things about your partner – and your relationship- that drives you crazy. Don't let the negativity accumulate over time. If these annoyances start to feel intolerable – reach out for the help of a marriage or relationship expert. Many times communicating your feelings with a professional will help you feel better about your partner and your relationship.
Therefore, if you find yourself only thinking negatively about your partner, make a conscious decision to shift your mindset to their positive attributes. Remember, you aren’t perfect either!
The keys to keeping your marriage strong is found in your ability to not allow the little annoyances of your partner’s personality to drive you crazy and to stay focused on the positive aspects of your partner’s personality – and your relationship as a whole.
Following these tips will allow you to stay emotionally connected so you can keep your marriage strong!
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