Every day, you and I do little things, subtle things, that could be slowly eroding our marriages. Quite often we are not even aware of them.
Here are four ways to overcome them:
1. Analyze our connection status
It seems that we cannot go anywhere without our technological devices, be it our smartphones, iPads or laptop computers. According to a new report from Nielsen, "The average American adult spends 11 hours per day with electronic media. That includes the age-old activities of watching TV and listening to the radio." Couple this with the explosion of social media and people are connected like no other time in history, in a near constant state of readiness to connect, email, text or Skype. Studies have shown that users spend more than 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. How we connect and communicate with one another has been forever altered because of the impact of social media. However, is this hyperconnectedness good for us? Are we unknowingly ignoring our spouse while connecting with the world?
One way to find out is to compare the number of hours in a given week we spend connecting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram vs. the direct, eye-to-eye conversation we have with our spouse. Out of balance? Adjust accordingly.
2. Throw away the scorecard
We all make mistakes, and we all love second chances. Why is it then that we find ourselves holding on to a scorecard in our heads, detailing all of our spouse's past mistakes? When we hold grudges and refuse to forgive our spouse, in the long run, we end up harming ourselves more than the initial hurt caused. As Dr. Judith Orloff pointed out to Psychology Today, "Forgiveness does more for you than anyone else because it liberates you from negativity and lets you move forward."
Too often we go into marriage with the idea that we are going to change our spouses. This is not always obvious. Most of the time, we unconsciously drop subtle hints that our spouse is not quite good enough, or not measuring up to our standards. We obsess over what our spouse is doing wrong and overlook what he or she is doing right. Over time, this can make our spouse feel not only discouraged, but also very vulnerable to anyone who gives him or her positive affirmation in whatever form. Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between a positive work environment and productivity. According to professor Neil Frude, "There is a strong relationship between employee happiness and a workforce that is productive, creative and flourishing." If positivity is this critical to the success of our work experience, how much more is creating a positive, encouraging environment essential to our marriages?
None of us have to teach our children how to say the four-letter word "mine." It comes naturally. One of the most difficult things to do in a marriage is to move beyond our natural self-centeredness and boldly go into the world of other-centeredness. Seeing the world and our marriage through the eyes of our spouse can provide the needed perspective to view our behavior and habits differently and motivate us to change. As author Mary T. Lathrap said, "We will be known forever by the tracks we leave in other people's lives, our kindnesses and generosity. Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins." Perhaps it is time to walk a mile in your spouse's.
Dr. Rob Harter is a non-profit executive professional with over 21 years of experience in leading and building non-profit organizations. Rob has demonstrated communication skills with both large and small groups.Find out more information at robharter