Another mark of a healthy relationship is when both partners focus on the strengths of their relationship rather than their weaknesses. More than thinking about what’s going wrong, happy couples balance their thoughts with a high volume of positive thinking such as, “We both have a great sense of humor” instead of, “We never do anything interesting”. In fact, research has shown that in healthy relationships, partners say 5 positive things to 1 negative thing to each other!
In addition, people in healthy, happy relationships tend to believe that mistakes are due to a situational issue (e.g. “She has been under a lot of stress and needs more sleep” when you were both supposed to go see your favorite movie) whereas people in unhealthy relationships assume the same situation is a constant, stable, unchangeable problem (e.g. “She’s so selfish and always wants to do what she wants” ).
Related to both of these is being able to remember their relationship in the past from a positive perspective. For example, when you think back to the first few months of dating, your wedding or your first year in marriage, what do you remember? Couples in a healthy relationship will focus on the high points, no matter how many mishaps there were while they were dating or how many struggles there were to settle into married life. These couples will find the strength within the adversity and recall their memories fondly.
Couples in unhealthy relationships tend to re-write the past. Meaning they look back on their relationship and remember the things that went wrong, such as how uncomfortable it was to live in a one bedroom apartment with their infant or how lonely she felt the first few years of marriage because her husband was so busy in graduate school. Or, in an equally sad situation, couples cannot remember much of their past together because it had become so unimportant or painful that it was easier to forget.
Do you remember the past with your partner fondly? What are some of your favorite memories?
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