Marriage can drift into a sea of negativity if we are not intentional. How can we keep a positive outlook on our spouse?
It is very easy to slip into a rut in marriage where we unintentionally ignore the positive things about our spouse and only focus on the negative ones. It probably happens to all of us at some point in our marriage, and if we aren't careful, a rut can turn into a routine. A routine can then turn into a season, and a season can turn into our "normal" approach to our relationship with our spouse. When that happens, all we see is what our spouse does wrong, and we are blind to what they do right. We get bitter. We become ungrateful. We forget all the reasons that we were first attracted to this person. Doesn't that sound like a fun marriage? Of course not! Who wants to be married if all we do is point out the negative in each other? No bride walks down the aisle of her wedding hoping that years down the road, her husband will constantly focus on all the things she does wrong. No groom sees his bride coming down the aisle and hopes that as soon as the honeymoon is over, she will start criticizing him for everything he does.
So, let me make a suggestion. What if we decided that we were going to start looking for the positive in our spouse and then let them know when we see it? I'm not saying to ignore the negative, but if we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that we all do wrong sometimes. I'm just suggesting that we focus on the positive as well. Instead of waiting to catch your spouse doing something wrong, catch them doing something right. Let them know when they do something that makes you feel loved. Tell them when you see them doing something right. Encourage and appreciate them when they attempt to do good things. Here are some ways to express it:
“I love it when you____________.”
"When you did/said __________, I really felt loved/special."
"When you did/said __________, I saw Jesus in you."
It makes me feel loved when you ______________.
"When you ______________, I thought "that's my man/woman."
Let me give you a personal example to help you know what I am talking about. One Sunday morning, I sat down beside my wife at a church service. I was running late due to some other responsibilities, so I snuck in and tried not to be a distraction. My wife leaned into me and just put her hand on my leg. It was nothing weird. She just touched my leg and acknowledged that she was glad I was sitting next to her. At that moment, I felt so much love from her. I felt as though she was so happy we were married and that we could worship together that morning. I felt loved! I didn't say anything at the time, but later that afternoon at home, I said to her, "do you remember when I sat down next to you in church, and you put your hand on my leg?" She said, "no." "Well, you did," I replied. "and when you did, I really felt loved. I felt special. I felt like you were glad I was there." Now I realize that this may not sound like a big deal to you at all, but she responded with, "I'm always glad you are there." It was a sweet, reaffirming moment in our marriage. And you know what happens when I sit down next to her at church now? Yep, she puts her hand on my leg, and it has become our little way of expressing love and gratitude for each other. I caught her doing something good, and I told her it was good.
Another quick example: Some time ago, I was standing with my wife in a public setting, and someone walked up who knew me. I introduced this person to my wife, and we carried on a conversation. No big deal. Later that day, my wife said to me, "when you introduced me to those people today, I felt like you were really proud that I was your wife." "I'm always proud that you are my wife," I responded. "I know," she said, "but it felt really good at that moment." So you know what I do as often as I can these days? I introduce people to my wife.
You know what happens in me when my wife tells me that she caught me doing something good? It makes me want to do it again and again and again. Maybe you have heard the phrase, "what gets celebrated gets repeated." That's true in marriage, too! Don't believe me? Try it. Adjust your focus, and catch your spouse doing something right this week and let them know. You may even find that it makes them more open to having a conversation about things they do that aren't so good. Either way, it will help you to be grateful, show grace (which we all need), and encourage your spouse. And it's just fun to catch people doing things right!
Romans 12:10: "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."
Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."
Proverbs 12:25: "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad."