Answer these questions: Do you notice their strengths or do you focus on their weaknesses? Do you focus on their potential or only on their flaws? You see, your partner can’t grow if you’re holding them down. If you’re only focused on the wrongs and not the rights- you could be hurting your relationship.
Your perception of your partner affects how you interact with them and in turn how they respond to you. If you’re thinking “She really gets on my nerves,” then you will respond that way- maybe your tone of voice changes or she may even pick up on your irritation. If you think- “He can’t do anything right” and you’re constantly going behind him complaining, you make him feel that he can’t please you so he may give up. If you only see the negative in your partner- how can you expect things to ever get better if you never acknowledge the positive? If you’re constantly on them about what they are doing wrong- eventually they will feel that they can’t meet your expectations.
It’s all about reinforcing what you want, not nagging about what you don’t. Reward (respect, praise, affirmation, etc.) makes anyone feel good. People like to please. So don’t be afraid to ask for what you want- and when they do it- reinforce it! Make them feel good about making you happy- reciprocate the good feelings. Don’t place limits on what you can accomplish in your marriage. Just because “it’s always been that way” doesn’t mean it has to stay that way! THINGS CAN CHANGE! But it takes two willing partners who want a happy, fulfilling relationship.
Know that every time you reinforce your partner you will not always get the same result. We all have a have a choice as to whether or not we will continue doing something. Sometimes we will, sometimes we won’t. If there’s a benefit- we will more than likely keep trying it out. Changing a behavior takes lots of practice and lots of positive feedback. Whenever my husband tells me he appreciates something, I may put it in my back pocket for later- it doesn’t mean that he should expect it all the time or that I’ll always remember. However, when I intentionally do what he likes, it doesn’t hurt to be acknowledged. Acknowledgment means my effort was noticed and that’s typically a benefit to the relationship as a whole.
I challenge you to transform your marriage by using a little positive reinforcement. And once you get in the groove, keep practicing until it becomes natural. Change has to be sustained- and the best way to do that is reinforcement. Start acknowledging what they do right and gradually creating the relationship you desire. Continue to practice what works and you might be pleasantly surprised!