You become what you think about. You’ve heard this saying before, right? Similarly, a happy or an unhappy marriage always starts with a thought.
How couples think and what partners believe to be true about each other matters much more than lack of communication. If negative beliefs prevail they can kill any relationship, including yours. This post is about how you can prevent this from happening and directly influence how you and your mate think about and perceive each other.
It Doesn’t Matter What’s True
Every person applies his or her own unique set of “lenses” through which they experience things. These lenses are powerful mental filters at work.
These filters are powerful because, by definition, they let in only proofs that support your beliefs, in this case, beliefs about your spouse.
It works both ways.
When you are in love, there isn’t a single person on the face of this planet who could convince you that your newly found mate isn’t the funniest person in the world, even though many other people would disagree. That’s why you’ll hear people say that those who are very optimistic are wearing “rose colored glasses”.
This is the positive perception of things.
On the other hand, if you believe your spouse to be sloppy, you will notice socks left on the floor once, but you won’t pay attention to the many times when this doesn’t happen.
You will see only the dirty dishes, but you will not see the lawn meticulously cut in the backyard. You will literally delete all the information that goes against your belief (and most of the time you won’t even be aware of doing it).
That’s called negative perception.
The interesting thing is that it doesn’t matter if our perception matches the reality. In our mind, this is true and, with time, we become more and more convinced of it.
Prevailing negative perception of one’s partner is the true silent killer of relationships, more so than the lack of communication skills.
When Negative Perception Wins
In the absence of positive interactions, our mind starts imagining and making things up.
Negative perception is especially toxic because it’s usually fed by a malicious focus on the wrong parts of the partner.
If you have a negative picture of your partner in your head, then you’re constantly looking for yet more proof that your partner is _____________ (fill in the blank with your common criticism), and you will keep finding proof that it’s really so.
Couples who let the negative perception prevail, commonly experience some or all of these signs:
- Specific events are being generalized and overblown in their meaning, and typically projected onto their mate’s whole personality.
- One may only see things that are wrong, not with them of course, but with their partner.
- They give little to no credit or signs of appreciation to each other for what is right.
If you’ve been there too, you know it’s not pretty. I personally know the feeling.
After years pass, it’s not important who started it, because it’s a vicious cycle. It feeds itself with the behavior of both, albeit in different areas of their life together. Sadly, this vicious cycle, with time, only spins faster and faster.
In many cases, it goes too far and people divorce.
Or Something Worse Happens
Some couples choose to accept this as a fact of life, some kind of law of nature. They hurt each other by inflicting wounds over and over again, being miserable for not feeling loved unconditionally, respected, understood, and accepted for who they are.
Therefore, what you think and believe to be true about your partner and yourself has a profound influence on your relationship. Because that’s where it all starts.
There’s good news, though.
You Can Influence the Thoughts Your Spouse Has About You
Our thoughts make us feel good or bad about something, and our feelings determine how we’ll behave. Our repeated behaviors create habits. Habits, in the long run, determine the results and outcomes we get in life. They determine who we truly are, what we stand for, and what we believe in. This influences the thoughts we have and so the loop is closed.
But you can influence AND create good, positive thoughts about each other. No matter what stage—or state—your relationship is in right now, you can create a positive perception of your relationship and your life together.
You can stop that self-feeding, negative, vicious cycle pushing your relationship downwards. As your perception of your partner changes, your feelings about one another change as well.
Negative feelings get replaced with empathy and understanding. When this happens, you are much more willing to reach out and help each other.
Just think for a moment; wouldn’t that be great?