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How to focus on what's positive about your partner

Every relationship has its high and low points. Not only do you need to develop as individuals but your relationship needs to develop as well. Life happens, people change, we experience unexpected misfortune, and sometimes we just simply forget or stop making the effort required to make relationships work.

Here are some of the secrets to ensure that your relationship survives the test of time.

Every relationship goes through what’s called the Relationship Life Cycle.

Phase 1 - Romance: This is where love is perfect and life is perfect. It’s the time in your relationship when it’s still cute if he hasn’t put his undies in the wash basket. Typically lasting from one night to 18 months, couples then move into the next phase.

Phase 2 – Fault Finding: This is when the things you used to find sweet about your partner begin to irritate or annoy you. A war of wills has begun and couples are no longer communicating effectively Miscommunication escalates into misunderstandings and then to relationship crises. Lasting anything from one hour to 26 years of marriage, many couples find themselves doing nothing but fighting. 80% of relationships come to a grinding halt in the Fault Finding phase. It’s during these times that the durability and fortitude of a relationship can be seen. Conflict is going to happen but it doesn’t have to last and turn into bitterness and resentment.

Its vital that we learn to resolve conflict as quickly as an inability to resolve problems effectively in a relationship is often what causes the demise of a relationship long term.

An effective option for conflict resolution is remembering to notice the positive things about your relationship. As we learn to find and accentuate the positive in our relationships they become more satisfying and when conflict emerges it’s easier to work through.

According to an article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (2009), “a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments predicts long-term marriage stability, while a ratio of 0.8:1 or lower predicts divorce.”

So, what are you focusing on in your relationship? If you tend to notice and point out all the negative traits about your partner it may be time to shift your focus.

3 tips to help you focus on the positive aspects of your partner.

Let Go of Grudges: Everyone makes mistakes, and forgiveness is key to a healthy relationship. Get a blank sheet of paper. Write down the grudge your holding onto about your partner and circle it. Around this circle make another ten circles. In each surrounding circle write positive traits, qualities, and attributes about your partner. Make effort to focus on all of these positive qualities instead of the one negative thing they did or said.

Use Active Constructive responding: It’s a great feeling to share our good news with others, and there are many different ways we can respond to this good news. We can passively respond and not show any real interest, or we can really express our enthusiasm for the good fortune of our partner. In order to cultivate positive emotions, practice responding actively and constructively when your partner reports positive events. Use your body language and tone of voice to reflect you really care and happy for them.

The Three Good Things exercise: Gratitude is a great way to focus on the positive. Take time each night to write down three positive things your partner did that day. They may have said something nice, did something kind for you, or showed generosity to someone else. Whatever it was, write it down to remind yourself of what you appreciate about them.

Identify and focus on your partner’s strengths: Identify your partner’s top three strengths. Focus on these and help your partner to use these in day-to-day life. Using signature strengths in relationships can help both partners experience more positivity and meaning.

Using these techniques can help to stabilize conflict and prevent a downward spiral of negativity. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, so don’t overlook all the positive qualities that makes your partner truly amazing.

Special note: Don’t kid yourself either, if the negatives outweight the positives then its time to pro-actively seek professional assistance either in resolving the problems or ending the relationship.

Information sourced from Ali Murray and eHarmony. (