When you have marital problems, it’s natural to focus on the negative and wonder “What was I thinking when I married my spouse?” In fact, that’s probably a very large contributor to why things are not going well. One simple thing that you can do to help take the edge off of your mental hostility toward your partner is to get in touch with what you were thinking when you two got together. Take some quiet time to really think about this. You might even want to start a list, and add to it every now and then when you remember something. If you have trouble with this, it may be that you have been married for 40 years. If so, congratulations! If not, then it is likely that your negativity is making it hard to recall these feelings. You have to move yourself into a different emotional space and take off those crap-colored glasses. These glasses are a huge obstacle to marital satisfaction anyway – you might as well make a few cracks in them.
Answer these questions to yourself:
- What initially attracted you to your partner?
- What did you tell your close friends or family about your partner?
- What kinds of strengths, talents, or qualities did you partner have that interested you, amazed you, or were totally opposite of your own?
- How did you two meet?
- What kinds of things did you used to do together, in the early days?
- In what ways did your friends or family see you two as a good fit?
- What were the things that made your knees weak, heart flutter, cheeks flush?
Be careful not to use this list as a comparison for how badly things have gone downhill. Once you have thought about these or even added other things, sit with that warm affectionate feeling for a while. Take a vacation from your current hurt. You may find that this helps you to be warmer and more receptive to your partner. It can’t hurt!