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Grief is a response to loss. It’s characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, depression, numbness, anger, and guilt. The goal of successful grief resolution is to reestablish emotional balance. Not everyone grieves the same things or expresses their grief in the same way. And then there’s what we call “disenfranchised grief.” (You probably know what it is, and you may have even felt it, but you might not know what to call it.)

Recognizing that loss comes in many forms has been one positive thing we’ve taken away from the pandemic. For example, loss of:

  • A prom or graduation
  • A dream wedding
  • Funeral attendance
  • Vacations
  • Family reunions
  • Other gatherings

People are more aware of “disenfranchised grief” now. Still, it’s helpful for us to think beyond the pandemic to other commonly overlooked losses. That way, we can support those suffering from them.

Understanding Disenfranchised Grief: 

  1. Grief that isn’t typically recognized by societal norms and/or lacks cultural expression.
  2. Grief that is often minimized, invalidated, stigmatized, marginalized, or misunderstood.

Disenfranchised grief (DG) leaves individuals to process their loss on their own or in secret. They lack the supportive benefits available to people whose losses are more socially accepted, expected, acknowledged, or understood. Often, people tell those in distress, “You didn’t even know them that well,” or “Move on,” or “Get over it.”

Even if we don’t understand it or agree with it, it doesn’t make the pain any less. The pain is REAL. 

Examples of losses that are frequently disenfranchised include:

  • death of an “ex,” an absent sibling or parent
  • loss of someone who was not a “blood relative”
  • loss of a co-worker or pet
  • an adoption that fell through
  • loss of possessions, loss of location due to a relocation or move
  • loss of mobility or health, loss of a body part
  • infertility, miscarriage, stillborn child
  • incarceration of a friend or family member
  • deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, suicide, or overdose
  • loss of personality due to dementia, etc.

Frequently, the loss itself may not be disenfranchised, but the manner in which an individual grieves may be. 

Those around them may criticize the length of their grieving process or the form their grief takes. Societies and cultures can have “unwritten rules” when it comes to grief. People often question, criticize, or invalidate expressions outside those “rules.” These things can complicate the grieving process. 

For many circumstances that individuals experience, there is no “race for the cure,” support group, lapel ribbon, hotline, celebrity fundraiser, foundation, or “public awareness” campaign. There may not even be a Hallmark card for it. This doesn’t mean that feelings of grief are invalid or illegitimate.

Often, people don’t even know they are experiencing DG, let alone know how to work through it. 

Instead, people have a tendency to minimize or invalidate their loss by comparing it to what a person (or society) believes is a “legitimate” loss.

Disenfranchised Grief. They say if you can name it, you can tame it. It might begin by being honest with yourself, admitting you’re grieving, and not feeling guilty about it. 

Stop faking smiles. Then find some support. The people around you are probably more than willing to help you. They just might not recognize your “outside the box” loss.

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help or to utilize resources like The Grief Recovery Method.

For those of us who may know someone experiencing DG, support might begin by expanding our definitions of “loss” and “grief.” We can follow up by making ourselves available to those who are hurting and grieving. We can listen and empathetically validate their sense of loss. 

About 2.5 million people die in the United States each year. They all leave an average of five grieving people behind. Not all those grieving people grieve the same.

If we can expand our perspective on grief, we can expand our support to those who are grieving. People are hurting, and we can help.

OTHER HELPFUL BLOGS:

How to Help Your Child Deal With Grief

6 Things You Can Do to Help a Child Who Is Grieving the Death of a Parent

4 Ways You Can Help Someone Who Is Grieving the Death of a Loved One

How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving the Death of a Spouse

Is Overthinking Killing Your Relationships?

Get tips for what you can do about it.

I hit the road every Saturday morning. Usually, I’m gone for an hour or two. Saturday is my long run day. The time commitment of training for a half marathon is significant. As I walk out the door, my little ones are wide awake and active. They hit me with the questions… “Where are you going, Dad?” “When will you be back?” “Why will you be gone for so long?” “Can you stay with us?”

Up to a few months ago, I felt guilty for leaving them. I felt like I was being selfish. I questioned if I was neglecting my wife and kids to do something I wanted to do, which took so much time and energy. This was me overthinking, being flooded with negative self-talk. They didn’t tell me I was being selfish. They were my biggest cheerleaders. But my overthinking was affecting reality.

Have you been there? Are you an overthinker, too?

What is overthinking?

In his latest book, Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking, Jon Acuff offers us a simple definition of overthinking. He says, “Overthinking is when what you think gets in the way of what you want.” 

When I think I’m neglecting my family to go on long runs one day a week, I’m listening to negative self-talk. Acuff calls these soundtracks. They are symptoms of overthinking that get you nowhere. We are just wasting resources on dead-end thoughts. He refers to overthinking as “the greatest thief of all. It steals time, creativity, productivity, hope.”

We can all be subject to overthinking as a spouse, a parent, a boss, an employee, or a friend. In any scenario, overthinking can be detrimental to furthering our relationships.

So, how do I stop overthinking?

Jon Acuff suggests we retire our broken soundtracks, replace them with new ones, and then repeat the new ones so often that they become the predominant thoughts you hear. The soundtracks we listen to are associated with an action. A broken soundtrack leads to inaction. It doesn’t take us anywhere, and doesn’t motivate us to push toward our goals. 

Let me give you a real-life example. Training for a half-marathon takes anywhere from 4-6 hours a week for 12-18 weeks. This is time I would normally spend with my family. My negative self-talk led me to believe I was neglecting them and that I needed to spend that time with them, having fun. This made my training difficult because I felt guilty. That’s my broken soundtrack—all in my head.

My wife told me, “We are so proud of you. You are setting goals and doing what you love.” She helped me see that even though I was giving up some family time, I showed my kids what it looks like to set goals and take steps to achieve them. And there’s a bonus: they’re getting some weekend trips to races that they are super excited about.

I retired my broken soundtrack, replaced it with a new one, and it’s playing on repeat.

To stop overthinking, we have to identify a broken soundtrack. But, how do we do that?

Jon Acuff gives us a simple way to figure it out. Write down something you want to do. Doesn’t have to be anything significant. Maybe it’s, “I want to have a weekly date night.” Then, listen to the first thought you have. What is your first reaction? If you immediately start saying, We don’t have the money, we don’t have the time, or we can’t afford a babysitter, you’re overthinking.

Congrats, you just found a broken soundtrack. Now ask three simple questions about that thought:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it helpful? (Does it move me forward or hold me back?)
  3. Is it kind?

You don’t have to ask these questions about every thought, but ask about the big ones. Question the thoughts that seem to be holding you back the most. You might be surprised at how many broken soundtracks are playing in your mind.

Overthinking doesn’t have to kill your relationships. If you are an overthinker, evaluate those thoughts. Identify if they are true, helpful, or kind. And if those thoughts are hurting your relationships, it’s time to release, reshape and repeat new ones. You can choose what you think. Tell yourself, “I have the permission and the ability to choose what I think during the day to lead me to action I will take.”

Other helpful blogs:

Are You Setting a Good Example of Self-Care for Your Family?

How Couples Can Help Each Other De-Stress and Improve Their Relationship

Why Spending Time Alone Is Good for Your Marriage

5 Signs You Need Some Alone Time

4 Reasons Your Relationship Issues are a “You” Problem

An honest look can help you be a better version of yourself.

When I was in college, one of my favorite shows to watch was The Late, Late Show with David Letterman. He was known to have funny skits as well as the famous Top 10 list. 

You’re probably wondering why I’m taking this stroll down memory lane.

Well, you’re probably reading this because you have had issues in multiple relationships with friends, family, work, and dating. And it may be getting to the point where you begin to wonder some things like:

  • Why do friends and family keep ghosting me? 
  • Why can’t I seem to get along with anyone at my job?
  • How do I get others to see that my way actually works better than theirs most of the time?
  • Do I want to have all the control in my relationships?

The answer may be that your relationship issues are a “you” problem. 

Here are 4 reasons which signal that relationship issues are a “you” problem. (Look at this as my version of David Letterman’s Top 10, except there’s only 4.)

1. It’s never your fault.

When you don’t take or acknowledge any responsibility for problems in your life, that is the epitome of a “you” problem. The blame can’t be and isn’t always on everyone else. People make mistakes and missteps, including you. Accountability and self-awareness are keys to effectively process how you impact your life and the lives of others around you.

2. You lack self-awareness.

Take some time to think about your past relationships. Look for patterns and tendencies, not of past partners, but YOUR OWN. Were you critical? Did you always have to be right? Did you listen? It’s essential to examine your behavior in the relationship. In taking an honest look at yourself, you may find some things that you don’t like to see or that you were unaware you did. 

3. You notice similar negative patterns.

Maybe you become comfortable with the way things go in your life. You get takeout from your favorite restaurants and get your clothes from your favorite stores. We also have patterns in our relationships. You may have met your former significant others in similar ways. When you look back at your previous relationships and recognize many unhealthy issues and commonalities between them, that may be a “you” problem.

4. It’s your way or the highway.

It’s normal to want to have some say over what happens in your life. Or to be concerned about what happens in the lives of those you care about. It’s another thing altogether to consciously or unconsciously believe that the people in your life should automatically defer to you about the desires in their lives. It can be a “you” problem when people move out or are moved out of your life because they don’t respond in the way you would like.

When problems arise in your life, it’s essential to look at the person in the mirror. This is not to say that everything is a “you” problem. But, you do contribute to the problem. Being open to changing, growing, or adapting as needed is a significant first step toward correcting “you” problems. 

Growing isn’t meant to stop you from being you, but to help you be a better version of yourself. Once you are a better “you,” then forming meaningful relationships becomes easier. 

Other helpful resources:

It’s been one year since our lives drastically changed. Schools shifted to virtual learning, many of us were scrambling to set up home offices, and some lost their jobs. Life looks somewhat different today. But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel; there is hope. 

With so many drastic changes, 2020 also saw a rise in stress, anxiety, and loneliness. The American Psychological Association reports that 78% of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives. I’m part of that group.

As anxiety and stress increase, self-care is essential, whether that’s through outdoor exercise, getting into nature, yoga, reading more, unplugging from technology, or breathing exercises. I enjoy going for a run. Being outdoors is my go-to. (In cases of extreme stress, anxiety, loneliness, or a psychological disorder, seek the help of a professional.)

If we don’t care for ourselves, we’re unable to care for others.

There are many techniques and practices to help us navigate stress

Let me introduce you to a method that neuroscientists have found useful. You may already do this and not even realize it’s an actual practice. Enter: havening. Neuroscientist Dr. Ronald Ruden created havening techniques a decade ago. Havening uses gentle touch to the upper arms, hands and face, and constructive messaging to replace stressful responses with healthier ones.

Havening can be as simple as rubbing your hands together, on your face, or through your hair when you feel stress rising. You may do these simple acts without even realizing it. But neurologically, it helps your brain cope with stress.

You may be asking, how does this help? (I know I was). 

Havening helps boost oxytocin, a “love hormone” that is typically released through human touch and bonding. Contact is something that we’ve been lacking over the past few months. The hugs, handshakes, and high-fives all help us de-stress. Havening can convince your brain that you are receiving some of this touch. 

We are built for community, for relationships, and to do life with other people (in-person, not virtually). This has presented challenges for many as we balance our need to be with people and health concerns. Of course, I’m not suggesting that havening should replace personal contact and touch. But in a world where touch and close proximity is still being limited or feels uncomfortable to many, havening is a great way to calm yourself and the ones you love. It’s also helpful for those who are not comfortable being touched by others.

This technique can also be beneficial for kids, especially as anxiety has risen due to online school and the lack of time with friends. If your child has been struggling with meltdowns, anger, or anxiety due to loneliness, encourage them to pause, take a deep breath, and wrap their arms around themselves in a big bear hug. It may seem weird at first, but practicing havening can help you feel more grounded and connected.  

We have learned much over these past 12 months. We’ve learned resilience, flexibility, what’s important, and that we are made for relationships. We’re made to be with other people, and our brains need that connection, along with physical touch. 

As we push forward through this pandemic, continue to take care of yourself and your family. If you haven’t already, figure out what reduces your stress and brings you joy. Use havening if you feel out of control or anxious. Put self-care at the top of your to-do list. And if you take up running, I’ll see you out there.

Other helpful resources:

What Britney Spears Has to Teach Us About Alone Time in Marriage

Turns out, taking care of yourself helps you take care of each other.

Want a healthy, lasting marriage? Be prepared to be alone and focus on yourself. Totally. Backed. By. Research. “Alone Time” is part of what is frequently referred to as “Self-Care.” You and your spouse need it. You both probably work and stuff, so free time is couple time, right? And it should be. That’s why you got married. 

But not all free time should be couple time. You both need some alone time to recharge and recalibrate. This is part of you working to grow into the best possible version of yourself. No worries, the “self” in “self-care” isn’t self-ish. You and your spouse plan and prioritize alone time so couple time can be more meaningful. (And more fun!)

How much alone time in marriage do I need?

What do I do with it?

What if my spouse wants or needs more or less time?

How do we talk about it?

You’re asking all the right questions. Here’s why we need to answer them…

This month, the new unauthorized Britney Spears documentary, The New York Times Presents “Framing Britney Spears” premiered on FX and Hulu. It generated over a million tweets the first night. The premiere coincides with the growing #FreeBritney movement as lawyers convene to debate if the 39-year-old pop icon is competent to manage her own life.

Since 2008, Britney Spears has been placed under a “conservatorship” managed by her father and various lawyers. (You remember why. Head-shaving and whatnot.) This is a legal arrangement usually reserved for people in a coma, those who suffer from mental illness, and the elderly. Under these circumstances, Spears has not been allowed to:

  • Vote.
  • Drive.
  • Manage her money.
  • Make career decisions.
  • Get married.
  • Have children.
  • Have custody of her children.
  • Speak publicly about the conservatorship. (Kuhn-sur-vuh-ter-ship. Takes a few tries.)
  • Testify on behalf of herself regarding her mental, emotional, physical competency.

For over 12 freakin’ years! Imagine living like this! 

During this time, “she” has released three successful albums and one… um… not. (Sorry, Britney Jean.) “She” has completed world tours and a four-year, $140 million Las Vegas gig. “She” has launched fragrance and clothing lines. So, “she” has been busy. But other people manage her life. 

★ If you aren’t actively and mindfully managing yourself, who or what is? Imagine living like this! Just because you’re busy doing all the things, even the successful things, it doesn’t mean you’re taking care of yourself. In fact, busyness is the biggest enemy of healthy, constructive alone time.

So, those questions about alone time in marriage:

How much alone time do I need?

There’s no formula for calculating the ratio of couple time to alone time. Well, actually, there is. Research says 70/30, but I don’t want you looking at your watch. I’d rather you listen

Listen to:

  • Your spouse. 
  • Trusted friends. 
  • Your body. 

Any signs you’re not your usual self? Drifting away from your goals? Feelings building up? Body breaking down? Time for some alone time. NOTE: Ideally, you plan some alone time into your day and week to avoid getting some sorta way. Just sayin’.

What do I do with it?

Journal. Meditate. Exercise. Origami. Whatever helps you be healthy and “competent.” Mentally, emotionally, and physically. And hey, alone time doesn’t have to be a lonely time. Build friendships and socialize with people that encourage and energize you.

What if my spouse wants or needs more or less time?

It’s all good! Everyone is different. You’ll have seasons when you want or need more or less.

How do we talk about alone time?

This is important. It’s not just blurting it out. (Okay, it kinda might be sometimes.) You want to cultivate communication and a relationship where you and your spouse can speak to each other honestly and vulnerably. And hear each other with your hearts. Not just about your needs for alone time, but everything else in your marriage.

I’m gonna leave you alone now. Marriage is two individuals becoming a team for life. You owe it to yourself and your spouse to be a healthy, growing individual. Remember, if you don’t take care of you, something else will. You manage you.

More blogs you might find helpful:

Help! Our Intimacy is Gone

Rekindling the passion may be easier than you think.

You expect a campfire to burn hot and then turn into ashes. But you didn’t expect the fire to die down in your marriage, did you? Love… sex… connection… You expected them to go through ruts, maybe. Highs and lows? Sure. But nobody expects to wake up one day and realize the intimacy is gone.

And we’re not just talking about sex. Intimacy is way more than sex. It happens when you and your spouse fully know and experience each other—sexually, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. 

If your intimacy is gone, there are some things you can do to understand why—and find ways to reignite the flames. These questions and “fire starters” may heat things up a bit.

Has your marriage become child-centered? 

Before kids, the backseat was for… you know. (Oh, don’t act like I’m the only one!) But maybe now the backseat is full of car seats. Does your marriage feel like it’s taken a backseat to the kids?

Children can be exhausting. (I know. I’ve got seven of them!) They keep you awake, and they require a lot of energy. It’s hard for parents to be intimate. It can be different, though!

Fire Starter Tips:

  1. Schedule kid-free time.
  2. Give kids a bedtime that allows you to be friends and lovers.
  3. Schedule a good babysitter for date nights.
  4. Teach your kids to do some things on their own.
  5. Intentionally put the married back in married parents.

Where’s your focus? 

It may seem logical to you that if intimacy is gone, more sex will help—but it doesn’t work that way. I said this earlier, but it’s worth repeating: Intimacy is about so much more than sex! In fact, there are 6 different types of intimacy in marriage. (If you want to learn what they are and how you can grow them, check out this toolkit.) When intimacy is gone in your marriage, focusing on emotional intimacy is a great place to start rekindling the flame.

Fire Starter Tip: 

Schedule 15-20 minutes daily to learn about each other’s thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, emotions, etc. 

No technology. No kids. And no interruptions. 

This consistency will reignite and deepen your intimacy. If you’re too busy, cutting something out of your schedule to focus on each other will help. (Try these marriage conversation starters.) 

Are you holding back? 

Being vulnerable is hard. I get it. Especially if there’s been hurt, distrust, or betrayal. But hiding parts of yourself from your spouse (or feeling unsafe) can smother the fire of intimacy. Without transparency and vulnerability, the disconnection grows and blocks the airflow.

Fire Starter Tips:

  1. Breathe life into your relationship by identifying why you may be holding back.
  2. Discuss why it’s hard to open up. A good marriage counselor can help.

Are you both at your best? 

I feel like I’m a better husband when I’m:

Esther Perel, author and marital intimacy expert, says we can offer our best when we are most connected. Different seasons of marriage—having a new baby, caring for a loved one, or working an intense schedule—call for different responses. Being sensitive to extra stress your spouse may be experiencing can increase intimacy.

Fire Starter Tips:

  1. Look at your schedule together and prioritize your marriage. 
  2. Talk about how you can help each other.

What do you expect? 

The early stages of marriage can make you think intimacy is natural. There’s a 2-year honeymoon phase when your body naturally produces chemicals that drive your passion. After that, your body stops producing those chemicals, so it may feel like the natural intimacy is gone. It can hit you unexpectedly. You wonder if you married the right person or if you’re just not in love anymore. More than likely, you’re just moving to a different season of marriage. Perel tells us that our desire for our spouse increases as we see them in their element. It reminds us why we fell in love and increases our curiosity about them. 

Fire Starter Tips:

  1. Don’t look at what you’ve lost; look at who you’re missing. 
  2. Acknowledge and appreciate what your spouse does well. 
  3. Stay curious. 
  4. Do something different.

Intimacy dies when we stop exploring each other (in all the ways) or put up walls. But sometimes, fresh eyes or fresh adventures can get that flame burning high and hot once again. Don’t give up!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

DISCOVER DEEPER INTIMACY IN YOUR MARRIAGE

READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.

“If we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play, and we must work to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.”

Brené Brown

I’m so exhausted and stressed out!” Is that a cry for help or a badge of honor?

Sadly, we live in a culture that not only normalizes burnout as a way of life but also kinda glorifies it. If you are perpetually busy and exhausted—You. Must. Be. Important! 

But at what cost?

Maybe we need to worry more about being healthy people. 

Ah, but insights like that usually only come to us when we slow down, find some quiet, and get alone with ourselves. Alone. Solitude. Introspection. “Sorry, ain’t got time for that!” (I think a lot of people intentionally stay busy because they don’t want to have to think about life and look at themselves.) Make time. Being alone is a healthy skill to be cultivated. Being alone is when some cool stuff happens: Inspiration. Reflection. Insight. Wonder. Clarity. Rest and Restoration. Whatever ambition has you so busy chasing, you’re going to need all this stuff along the way. Plus, the people you care about need you to care about you and take care of you.

Here are five signs you need some alone time, stat!

1. Your body is trying to get your attention.

Do you wake up and not feel rested and rejuvenated? Does your body “hit a wall” during the day that sends you to the coffee-maker? Do you catch every cold and flu bug that’s going around? Do you collapse into bed like you just finished a marathon? 

Your body might be trying to get your attention. It’s trying to tell you that your batteries are low and need recharging. Some time alone doing something restful and reenergizing might be just the ticket. Make sure it’s something you genuinely find soothing and medicinal—not work-related and stress-inducing.

2. Little things just wreck you.

Things you normally would take in stride or wouldn’t bother you at all now get an exaggerated response from you. It could be a short delay, a slight change of plans, an annoying freeway driver, or someone’s tone of voice, and you’re fuming or crumbling. You know that’s not you.

You’re fragile. You’ve become so busy and stressed you don’t have the margin or emotional resources left to handle life’s little annoyances. Alone-time is anti-fragile time. It strengthens you on the inside. Getting alone in a meaningful, healthy way can give you the focus to regain some perspective, as well as the fortitude to handle bumps along the way.

3. The people in your life are dropping hints… 

Learn to put the clues together. That look on your spouse’s face means you snapped at them. That eye-roll from your kid means, “What’s. Up. With. You?

Your friend or co-worker asking, “Are you okay?” or “How have you been lately?” means “Someone has their Cranky Pants on today!

Sometimes we are the last person to recognize how we’ve changed and are not acting like ourselves. Learn to pick up on the hints before the hints become arguments, outbursts, or resentment. You don’t want to hurt the people you love even a little bit, but when you’re tired and stressed out, or feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, you tend to take it out on the people closest to you. We all do.

Don’t be afraid to tell the people in your life you need a little alone time. It’s mature and self-aware to say, “Sorry I’ve been a little extra lately. I need to go for a walk and clear my head.” Go to a movie by yourself or send yourself to your room and watch one. Take a book to a coffee shop. Go for that run. Reassure the family that it’s not them, it’s you. (They know.)

4. You’re bored, not interested in anything, and just feel… blah.

You’ve been rushing through your hectic schedule so fast for so long, you don’t remember what to do with some downtime. You’re so burned out, you just don’t feel like doing anything—even the things you normally enjoy. You are listless and lethargic. You aren’t up or down—you’re just there. 

Sometimes you need some unproductive, unfocused vegging out alone time. Grab your favorite snack and watch some reruns of your favorite show. Go to a park or out on your deck and just sit. Soak up some sun. To the untrained eye, you look like you’re doing nothing, and that’s exactly what you need. This afternoon’s plan is not to have plans. Feel what it feels like to have no deadlines and no demands on your time. Give yourself permission to clock out for a little while. Feel that? Feels good. (If you feel “blah” for weeks at a time, that’s not good. Get that checked out.)

5. Sometimes, you just know. 

Sometimes you do. Listen to that little voice. Quit ignoring it. Stop thinking you don’t really need some alone time or don’t deserve it or it’s a sign of weakness or will disappoint someone if you take it. The world won’t stop spinning if you don’t get to everything on your To-Do list. That’s vanity. Give yourself a break. The reality is, alone time helps bring clarity, creativity, and energy to every part of your life. Your life-goals won’t suffer if you take some time for you; your life-goals will suffer if you don’t.

You got this!

Image from Unsplash.com

Too much of anything can become a bad thing. We need moderation to keep the balance in our relationships, self-talk, marriages, and so on. Asking the question “Is negativity hurting my marriage?” shows some great self-awareness and motivation to figure out how negativity can affect relationships.

What are you working with?

  1. Do you or your spouse see what hasn’t been done when you get home first?
  2. Do you see more things you or your spouse can improve on than what you or they are doing right?
  3. When things are tough, do you or your spouse feel like it’s only going to get worse?
  4. Do you or your spouse talk down about each other to other people?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, let’s see if there’s a perspective shift you can lean into so we can replace some negativity with positivity!

In an article for Thriveworks, Taylor Bennett interviewed Matthew Solomon, a Love and Happiness Coach who specializes in relationships, communication, and negativity and why it’s important to be aware of it.

Here’s his advice on how to confront the negativity.

1. Acknowledge the negative mindset. 

If you’re this far into the blog, chances are you’re being proactive or looking for a way to deal with the negativity in your marriage. Acknowledging is the first step for really any issue you may face. No one can fix a problem or meet an expectation they don’t know is there. By being mindful of what’s happening between you and your spouse, you’re setting yourself up to take the next step.

2. Understand the why behind negative thoughts.

Psychological research shows negativity bias can explain why we have an aptitude to see the negative more easily. 

Earlier in human history, paying attention to bad, dangerous, and negative threats in the world was literally a matter of life and death. Those who were more attuned to danger and who paid more attention to the bad things around them were more likely to survive.” 

In another article by The Atlantic, researchers, led by Geraldine Downey, address negativity’s impact on a marriage and whether a marriage is successful. 

They found that people who are insecure were more likely to act negatively out of their sense of protection from rejection. “Their own fear of rejection no doubt intensified the distress they felt, because for them an argument wasn’t just about a specific issue but a sign of deep problems and an ominous signal that the relationship was in jeopardy.” 

You don’t want to just survive your marriage, you want to thrive in it. However, to thrive, you have to do more than see the negativity that’s hurting your marriage; you must overcome it, find the root of what is causing the spiral, and slow it down so it doesn’t take the good parts down with it. 

3. Choose new thoughts that benefit you (and your spouse).

When you want the best for yourself and your spouse, it takes an active willingness and effort to improve. Some great ways to get yourself in the mindset (and with time, habit) of seeing the good, positive things are by choosing to do things to serve your marriage. 

Try implementing these tips into your marriage:

  • Do not take negativity personally.
  • If your spouse rejects your offers of help, it’s okay.
  • Spend time with positive people who are for your marriage.
  • Invite your spouse to do some fun activity with you at least once a week.
  • Acknowledge your partner’s positive accomplishments and efforts.
  • Encourage your partner to try new things.

Sometimes it’s hard finding the right words to say or refraining from saying things you want to say, but know negativity won’t help in the long run—and acknowledging that some work still needs to be done is okay. If we’re honest with ourselves, anything worth having takes time, energy, and practice. A healthy, happy marriage is worth having. Have the tough conversations, try to stay positive, and celebrate the little wins as you reach them!

Additional Resources:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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