Does Your Spouse have a Negative Attitude
Is your spouse a negative person? Does he or she consistently zero in on what's wrong with you and the marriage while overlooking the many positives?
If so, it's also quite possible that your spouse is just a negatively-oriented person about most things--work, the marriage, other people, the future, and life in general. Perhaps as time goes by, your spouse is becoming even more negative, critical, and complaining.
When I first talked to "Leigh" (not her real name), she was ready to leave her marriage because of her husband's constant negativity. "Al" was a master at finding fault with Leigh's decisions and suggestions. He had a sharp wit and could deliver zingers without batting an eye.
If Leigh suggested a picnic, Al responded with complaints about the perils of fire ants, killer bees, and sudden thunderstorms. Whenever she made a suggestion, Al would discourse on what was wrong with the idea and why it wouldn't work.
If he did agree to go along with one of Leigh's ideas or suggestions, he always expected the worse or talked about the negative aspects. In addition, Al was very critical.
The restaurant they tried was "too expensive," the dinner conversation with friends was "too boring," the movie was "too long," the weekend camping trip was "too much work," a gift from a family member was "stingy," and the people at the church they visited were "hypocrites." His boss is "an idiot," his job "sucks," and his life is "the pits."
Since a negative attitude is highly contagious, it was challenging for Leigh to be around Al and not lose her normally positive orientation. She often felt drained and deflated in spirit after her interactions with Al. When she realized that he was becoming more negative the older he got and that she was starting to resent his attitude, she consulted with me.
Eight Steps to Overcome Negativity
If you're in the same situation--married to a spouse with a negative attitude--I would give you the same recommendations that I gave Leigh. Here's what you can do:
- Deliberately cultivate friendships with other individuals and couples who have positive attitudes and who are fun to be around. Try to expand you and your spouse's circle of friends to include couples who would be good role models for your mate and spend time with those couples.
Cut back on spending time with friends who encourage your spouse's negative comments and attitude and slowly over time try to add individuals and couples who are strong positive influences.
- Be sure that you have friends, activities, hobbies, and interests in your life that "feed your soul" and help you stay on a positive track. If things in your marriage aren't what you wish they were, then you need to find satisfaction and joy in other areas to keep you centered and balanced emotionally.
Listen to inspiring songs and read inspirational books. "Feed" yourself a diet of positive messages that encourage and motivate you.
- Monitor your moods to be sure that you're not getting tangled up in what are commonly called "co-dependency" issues. That's when you let your mood be determined and set by someone else.
An example would be if you were depressed all day because your spouse was in a bad mood at breakfast. Just because he's in a funk doesn't mean that you can't have an enjoyable day. You don't have to let your mate's mood determine your mood or spoil your day.
Don't give away your personal power. Take responsibility for creating your own happiness instead of being so influenced by your spouse's negative attitude.
- Keep a gratitude journal where you list what you're thankful for each day. Form the habit of sharing with your spouse things that you're thankful for. At dinner, for example, you might talk about how helpful the clerk at the grocery store was or tell about the favor a co-worker did for you that you appreciate.
If you're thankful for seeing a beautiful bird or a lovely flowering tree, share your feelings. If you feel blessed by the kindness of a friend, share that. Even if what you say doesn't impact your mate, you need to hear yourself expressing gratitude and appreciation for the gifts that you've been given. This helps you to keep focused on what's right with your life instead of what's wrong with it.
- Try not to judge your spouse or make him or her "wrong" for being so negative. There are many factors that can influence a person's attitudes: the attitudes they learned from their parents, their experiences growing up, low self-esteem, intense stress, clinical depression, a habit of negative self-talk, life disappointments and discouragement, and lack of hope.
Sometimes individuals who are negative think they are being "realistic" or helpful by "calling a spade a spade." Others may think they are witty for delivering clever "zingers" and criticisms.
- Schedule a time to talk to your partner about your concerns. Without sounding judgmental or "preachy," give some specific examples of how her (or his) negativity has impacted you significantly. Perhaps your spouse is not even aware of just how negative she has become, or perhaps she is feeling depressed and needs to talk to her doctor or a counselor.
If your spouse reacts in anger, stay calm and non-defensive. State that you'd rather share your feelings now than have them fester underground and cause even more problems later.
- If nothing changes after your talk with your spouse, write him (or her) a letter outlining your feelings and concerns about your reactions to his negative attitude. State that you want to look forward to your interactions and time with him, but you're afraid the constant negativity will eventually affect your feelings.
In the letter, tell your spouse how much you value him and your marriage and that you love him deeply. Ask your mate to go to marriage counseling with you so that your marriage will stay strong and satisfying for both of you.
- If your spouse is not willing to address the problem by talking with you or going to counseling, then make an appointment to see a counselor by yourself. You'll need support and help in determining just what the next step needs to be--trying again to communicate verbally or in writing, or trying to adjust and live with things as they are, or in an extreme case, considering a temporary marital separation.
You'll need a deep commitment to staying positive and upbeat to be able to withstand the strong negativity in your marriage relationship. The encouraging news, however, is that according to Robert H. Schuller, "It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts."
Is Negativity Hurting Your Marriage?
Negativity can come in the form of cynicism, criticism, whining, attacking, pessimism, discontent, perfectionism, and hyperintensity. All of these behaviors can push people away, including your spouse.
Ask Yourself These Questions
- Do you find yourself in a bad mood on a regular basis? Do you dwell on bad things or painful memories?
- Are you critical of everyone in your life? Do you look at incidents and events from a negative perspective?
- Are you a perfectionist? If someone says, "Good Morning", do you wonder what's good about it?
- Are you quick to say "No" and rarely say "Yes" to requests from your wife or kids?
If you answer yes to most of these questions, your negative personality could be having a harmful impact on your marriage.
Change Your Pattern of Negativity
If you are chronically negative, you can change your pattern of negative thinking. But you have to want to make this change. Here are some things you can do to be more positive:
- Eat healthy foods
- Get enough sleep
- Do something each day to make you smile. Keep this simple, like listening to a favorite song, spending time on a creative hobby, watching a funny video, or taking a bubble bath.
- When you feel a negative response entering your mind, question it. Force yourself to think of something positive instead.
- Stay in contact with positive people.
- Accept compliments.
- Be open to seeking professional help.
Help Your Negative Spouse
If you are married to a negative personality, you are not responsible for making him/her feel better. However, here are some things you can do to help your spouse be more positive:
- Do not take the negativity personally.
- Remember that the negativity is your spouse's problem, not yours.
- If your spouse rejects your offers of help, don't over react.
- Spend time with positive folks. You will need some time off from your spouse's negativity.
- Invite your spouse to take a walk with you at least once a week.
- Acknowledge your mate's positive accomplishments.
- Encourage your partner to try new things.
- Don't be afraid to say "Enough!" and change the subject to something more positive.
- Be open to seeking professional help.
Stay Positive…With a Negative Vibration Spouse or Partner
People who are making the change to a conscious and spiritually-driven life often discover that they are yoked to someone who is not prepared to come along on that journey. The partner is mired in his or her own negative thoughts and emotions, and meets any topic of spiritual enlightenment, positive vibration and conscious creation with a wall of resistance. Don’t despair…lots of others have gone through this phase too, and come out on the other side with a happier life. Let’s look at what you can do in this situation:
- Stay in your positive vibration state. Don’t allow your spouse or mate to pull you out of alignment with the Universe. When you feel yourself drawn into it, take a walk, go play with the kids, read a book, go have lunch with your best friend… and continue to think and feel positive about yourself, your life and the good qualities in your partner.
- Create a sacred place in your home where you can go to meditate, clear your chakras, express gratitude, Consciously Create, connect with the Universe, —activities that keep your frequency high. Ask your partner to respect this private time, so that you can “recharge.” This recharging should continue to buttress you against his or her negativity.
- Demonstrate how your life has changed by just being happier, more upbeat, less stressed…and soon your partner may want to know what it is that has changed you and how he can he/she get some of it!
- By changing how you respond to things, your spouse is bound to have to adjust. If you are doing something different, that will change the dynamic between you and within the family. Your partner will have to adjust in some ways to meet or stay up with the new you.
- Visualize a harmonious relationship. See your relationship changing and your partner opening up to greater dialogue, a more open-minded attitude and a willingness to explore new avenues—new ways of thinking. Take your focus off of what is WRONG, and put it on what is right and what you desire.
- Throw your “love net” around him or her. I really believe this is an empowering tool to create waves of love that generate vibrational change. See yourself throwing the net of positive loving energy over your mate and yourself, so that it will allow him/her to release the negativity in a net of safety and acceptance. This changes the raises vibration between the two of you, and floods him or her with your loving, positive energy.
- Each day of the week, spend five minutes telling your partner one or more of the things you love about him or her. Your partner will be delighted to hear praise instead of complaints! It may well begin to shift his/her expectations, mood and outlook.
- Focus on making the present moment the very best and most enjoyable you can and vision for the future. Release the past. Don’t reintroduce old patterns, hold him or her to past behavior by bringing up how it’s been previously, and make sure that you don’t fall back into old negative repetitive interactions yourself. Let go of the anticipation that your partner will respond in “the same old way.” Leave the door open for change and possibility. Create a new pattern of interaction through your change of emotions, thoughts and energy habits.
- Present your partner with positive alternatives. When he or she focuses on the negative, gently demonstrate what alternative thought, emotion or perception may further his or her desire. Be a teacher, but do it gently, don’t force-feed these concepts.
- Become a Master Manifestor. As you raise your frequency, good things will increasingly come to you at your beckoning. If your spouse or partner gets jealous, point out that he/she can do this too if he/she follows your path. Then hand your partner a copy of The Art of Conscious Creation!
- Accept that the Universe is creating an opportunity to test how effectively you can maintain your own positive energy in the face of a challenge!
- Lastly, and this is the most extreme outcome, if you have tried all of these over time and you find yourself in a situation that is not emotionally healthy for you, you may have to leave the relationship. It is when the negatives outweigh the positives, with little prospects for change, that you have a responsibility to your ebullient and joyful soul to find an alternative lifestyle either alone or with a more positively-disposed and spiritually aware partner. Remember, even when there are children involved, they fare better with at least one happy parent, rather than two miserable ones.
Every Man's Marriage: An Every Man's Guide to Winning the Heart of a Woman
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